Biting Commentary in New York: Yuji Ramen
Miso uni mazemen (left) and shoyu ramen
I've never had ramen like this. My first introduction to mazemen at Yuji Ramen in New York City reminds me more of pasta than it does the ramen I'm used to.
While ramen in Honolulu almost always comes in soup, New York ramen chefs have been playing around with mazemen, a brothless ramen style, amping up bowls with various toppings far beyond charsiu.
At Yuji Ramen, I order a spicy tuna mazemen, topped with tuna, kale, togarashi and chili threads, the tuna flamed with a blowtorch to give it a pleasant char and crispy edges that remind me of yakitori. The bowl, when mixed together, is almost unbelievably flavorful, with undercurrents of sesame oil and a heavy hit of spice. Then, after everyone in a group of seven orders the miso uni mazemen, I get that, too. This bowl arrives with fresh orange zest, shiso and seaweed, all of which add a new dimension while also amplifying the best parts of uni—its sweetness and brininess.
For the mazemen, the noodles are thicker and springy, more like chow mein than typical ramen noodles.
Yuji Ramen also offers a daily shoyu ramen, the broth made with bones from the Whole Foods Market butcher counter (yes, this amazing ramen is served inside a Whole Foods). The day I go, tuna, beef, chicken, lamb, pork and mussels all went into the soup, which explains its complexity, though a pleasant fishiness still dominates.
While there's a note on the menu about the broth, there¹s no mention of the noodles, which come from Hawaii's own Sun Noodle, from its New Jersey factory.
Yuji Ramen at Whole Foods Bowery, 95 E. Houston St., New York, (646) 262-1358, yujiramen.com