that hit the spot.
Don't look for any resemblance
between a packet of instant ramen noodles and a steaming
bowl of deeply flavored tonkatsu ramen from Ajisen
Noodle, the first American branch of an Asian ramen chain
that opened in Chinatown this spring. Expect, instead, springy noodles,
roasted pork, scallions, and hard-cooked egg in a smoky, buttery
broth made from long-simmered pork bones ($4.75). The "tenderous
ribs" version features something the menu ominously calls "steamed
gristly ribs," which turn out to be rich, fatty chunks of tender,
slow-cooked boneless pork ($6.25).
Family-style at Chinatown's Ajisen Noodle.
Not in the mood to pig out? Choose an alternative soup stock, like
curry or miso, which is also an option at Rai
Rai Ken, a new East Village noodle shop with a menu as minute
as its fourteen-stool premises. There's gyoza (Japanese pork dumplings)
and ramen, available three ways: miso with chicken, shoyu (soy sauce),
and shio (chicken broth), the latter two of which come chock-full
of bamboo shoots, sliced roast pork, egg, scallion,and seaweed ($6.50).
In the theater district, Little Yokohama occupies an equally
cramped, twelve-seat space. Customize your soup by selecting one
of four noodles -- a thick udon, a thin udon, soba, or seaweed --
or beat the heat with a wonderfully refreshing summer cold-noodle
special. Yakko-soba is our idea of the perfect, slurpable pre-theater
supper: slick buckwheat noodles adorned with squares of cold tofu,
julienned cucumbers, eggs, seaweed, and shaved bonito, in a scallion
and ginger dressing ($8.75).