When your friend calls and says, “HELP! I have to move my storage space because the landlord sold the building, giving me less than a month to move” (yes, only in inflated New York City!), you run far, far away. That is unless this friend is your bestie and would help you in the same pinch. You pull back your hair, tie on your sneakers and head out to Brooklyn.
I arrived to organized chaos of other irate tenants and their besties, families and local movers instantly purging furniture and jockeying for a parking spaces as close to the loading dock as possible. The bonus was the pouring rain! Needless to say, it was not the best day, but it had to be done, and we did it.
Our reward for all of our efforts was a hot bowl of ramen at a favorite local spot, Chuko (@ChukoBKNY, 552 Vanderbilt Ave., Brooklyn, 718-576-6701, www.barchuko.com). She told me I would not be disappointed, and I wasn’t. This clean, modern, wood-lined space instantly clears the mind for impending deliciousness.
The menu is small and simple with no more than four choices of snacks, bites, ramen and a couple of specials. It all made ordering that much easier and the food quicker to the table. The cool music mix with a little Stevie, a little Michael and a whole mess of 1980s jams had us doing a lip sync battle for the ages. A true “amuse bouche!”
We bypassed the $5 snacks section and started with $8 bites of crispy Brussels sprouts with fish sauce, peanuts and pickled peppers and salt and pepper chicken wings. Now, who doesn’t love fried Brussels sprouts tossed in a spicy sweet vinegar dressing? Nobody! But when I tell you to order multiples of those wings, you best heed my warning. The trick to their addictive nature, I deciphered? Brined in seasoned rice vinegar before being battered and fried. BOOM—in your mouth!
For the stars of our meal, from the $13 ramen menu, we ordered kimchi ramen with scallion egg and ground pork. From the specials, we ordered mentaiko mazemen, dry ramen noodles with a sauce made from fish roe topped with shiso leaf and dried seaweed.
While the salt level of ramen always knocks me on my ass, these two bowls of heaven did not disappoint. The egg was cooked perfectly, giving the perfect yolk texture for the ultimate bite with the chewy noodle and the slow-cooked broth. The mazemen was gently swathed in umami-briny-roe-goodness with just a touch of bright citrus to finish you off. Nom nom nom, Chuko!
We shall return to you or your sister Bar Chuko for a larger menu of small shared plates, yakitori (barbecue) and a vast array of Japanese libations.
After all of that food, I still had the Munchies—calm it down, that’s the name of the pretzel-infused vanilla ice cream with clusters of Ritz crackers, potato chips, pretzels and mini M&Ms at Ample Hills Creamery (@AmpleHills). Not the munchies you thought, but a problem nonetheless!
Thanks as always, Brooklyn, for treating this Harlemite well. Until next time …
Happy eating and thanks for reading!
Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in-home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations? Email her at kysha@iSCHOP.com, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SCHOPgirl or on Facebook www.facebook.com/SCHOPnyc. For even more recipes, tips and food musings, subscribe to her blog at www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com.