- scene: A blink if you miss space, with an open kitchen, blond wood bar with stools, and that's it
- sip: cold teas, beer, possibly some sake
- savor: RAMEN, RAMEN, Gyoza
- sit: Who cares? Just get your face into that bowl and don't pull it out until you are finished; your guests will understand
- spend: $
- address: 70 Kenmare Street
- phone number: (646) 613-7522
- website: www.ramen-lab.com
At this point everyone thinks they know ramen, and thinks they know good ramen, but they actually don’t know jack- Jack Nakamura that is. Jack is ramen god of Nakamura Ya in Kanagawa Japan, who also happens to create the noodles served at many of the most popular ramen joints in NYC, but behind the scenes. As the Corporate Executive Chef at Sun Noodles, Jack is responsible for the custom recipes that make each bowl of ramen at each restaurant what it is; he tweaks the humidity, resting time, ingredients, etc, to make each batch of noodles the correct texture and flavor for the dish they are going to be starring in.
And speaking of starring, it is now Jack’s time to shine, as he brings his expertise and panache to Ramen Lab, which will be part restaurant, part brain trust for chefs to come and perfect their ramen recipes; Ramen Lab is the test kitchen for Sun Noodle to show chefs and restauranteurs alike the business of ramen. Kenishiro Uki, the 3rd Generation Noodle Maker (his family owned Sun Noodle) spearheaded the project to open Sun Noodle’s third factory in NJ and was pivotal in vetting Jack Nakamura to join the team to showcase the best possible ramen in NYC (and the US), through Ramen Lab. The goal of Ramen Lab is to start the conversation and to bring the US up to speed on what they believe is great ramen- and believe me, they know.
Ramen Lab is a small place, only 10 seats around a counter and open kitchen, with barely room to walk. There are only a few items on offer right now, Torigara Shoyu Ramen, which pays homage to the style of ramen tracing back to 1910, which is also what Jack is famous for in Japan, and a vegetarian XO Miso Ramen. Besides creating the noodles, Jack has a certain flourish when preparing the ramen- he dunks them in the hot water for his preterdemined amount of time- some times just 60 seconds- then lifts them out with great aplomb- very fun to watch.The amount of care taken for each dish is remarkable- there are different noodles, which are cooked for different times, and the broths are even served at different temperatures. I have only sampled the Shoyu ramen, but the member of my group that ate the vegetarian ramen was blown away. Not surprising- the ramen I had was the most flavorful, toothsome, complex – yet simple – ramen I have ever had. It is not burdened by an abundance of toppings- the broth is made from chicken stock, but there is a nice piece of chashu pork placed in the bowl, swimming along side a piece of nori, a fish cake, menma and spinach. The noodles are wavy and the broth is clearer than other ramens, just perfection. Ramen lab serves a very pure, traditional ramen, staying true to the five tenements of ramen (email me for more information); you can taste the love and authenticity in every bite.
There are also gyoza! They come out connected by a crunchy layer on top, and stuffed with pork goodness. There is a dipping sauce and you can ask for some fiery hot sauce… life is good. The menu will also feature the two ramens mentioned about and gyoza, but will evolve due the seasons, etc. If you think you know ramen, do yourself a favor and get to know Jack, and be prepared to be schooled…