As promised, a full report!
The place is really nice inside; unexpectedly so, especially when you consider it’s crammed between a Starbucks and an insurance agency with Jersey Mike’s on the far end.
We arrived around 6:15 and only two other tables were occupied, but within 20 minutes or so, the place was more than half full, and I saw many folks taking orders to go during our visit.
The two of us decided to share the Asian Ginger wings ($4.50) and pork buns ($6) for appetizers. The wings were heavily fried–as in, my friend’s comment was “these remind me of KFC extra crispy–not a bad thing!” For me, they were well done, but unnecessary. The dipping sauce was tasty with just a little bit of heat, but I guess the ‘style’ wasn’t what I was expecting. The pork buns did NOT disappoint; great mix of flavor and texture. Definitely a good rendition. Green tea was $3/cup and my only true complaint–served lukewarm.
Know this: I’m by no means well-versed on ramen–I just know when it’s good. I’ve been a fan of Ani (Montclair) since they opened, and they’re now my benchmark. So when I have questions/can’t remember what an ingredient is, it’s a bit frustrating when there’s a language barrier. Since I generally don’t eat a lot of carbs, I appreciate being able to add more protein to ramen, but couldn’t remember the difference between Chashu and Kakuni, so I asked. Our waitress’s reply was “I think the Kakuni is spicier.” Since I though that Chashu leaned towards sweet, I decided to add the Kakuni as an extra topping ($3).
For ramen, he had the Beef Sukiyaki ($12) and I had the Ippin Ramen ($11, + $3 for the addition of 2 pieces of Kakuni). On sight, the broth was gorgeous; opaque to the point of milky. My first taste was of the broth only and I was swooning. Seriously! I don’t think it’s just because it’s been so damn cold and I’d been craving a big bowl of Asian soup…this is damn good ramen. The noodles were soft, the egg was perfectly cooked, and the umami flavor was all over the bowl. I couldn’t differentiate the two portions of pork, though–I believe in the end both were Chashu. Not a bad thing, as it was tender and delicious, but next time I’ll try the Kakuni ramen, which is listed in a spicy broth.
$43 + tip for the two of us, and worth every cent. The fact that I can get a bowl of that quality within a few miles of home makes me VERY happy. Well worth the trip!
Pics: Beef first, then the Ippin Ramen.