Momosan Ramen & Sake: Indulge in a Bowl of Soul
Hi everyone! Today, we're going to talk about Momosan Ramen & Sake in Murray Hill, NYC. It's fairly new and attracted quite a lot of buzz when it opened in Spring 2016. Momosan is Masaharu Morimoto's sanctuary for Japanese ramen, appetizers, and sakes. For its initial days, I've heard that customers had actually seen Morimoto himself behind the counter preparing some of the dishes. The restaurant is casual but still on the trendy side, as it follows suit with Morimoto's other restaurants. For our visit, Steph and I sat at the bar but there are a ton of communal tables in the back of the restaurant. These seats are fun because you get to see what everyone is ordering, which may influence you to get an extra dish or two.
Anyway, I suggest getting a bowl of ramen and a few appetizers to share (or not to share) with your friends. Steph and I got two things during this visit but I'll also mention a few things that I got with my parents during a previous visit.
I'll start with my favorite appetizer: the Crispy Mimiga (pictured above).
This dish is of Okinawan origin and is typically steamed or boiled. It's naturally crunchy because of the cartilage but it's also full of flavor thanks to the skin and the fat. Momosan takes this traditional dish a step further by frying the pig ear until they're totally crispy. This version of Mimiga is glorious. These little crisps have just enough "fried" flavor such that the guilt isn't overwhelming. They also have the perfect balance between crunchy and fatty, providing you with the most ideal mouth feel and texture in each bite. The Mimiga also came with some Japanese Mayo on the side. Get this!
We've also tried the Zuke Maguro, Peking Duck, and Tetsunabe Pork Gyoza. Each of these were fairly solid with limited shortcomings. I thought that the Zuke Maguro was good appetizer to balance the saltier appetizers and the ramen. The tuna is marinated in soy and paired with Takaki Cucumber (Pickled Cucumber) and Taberu Rayu (Chili Oil).
During my last visit, I also tried the Peking Duck. They came in little taco-like gyoza shells and were filled with in-house Peking Duck, Cucumber, Hoisin, and an Apricot Sweet Chili Sauce. This was a very different way of enjoying Peking Duck but I loved that little flavor bomb of crunchy, ducky goodness. Additionally, I tried the Tetsunabe Pork Gyoza, which came on a sizzling hot iron skillet. This was actually deceptively rich in flavor. The Gyoza was filled with Pork and Chive with a Ginger Scallion Sauce.
Anyway, I'll try to talk real quick about the ramen. I got the Tsukemen Ramen. FUN FACT: I am and have been in the process of starting an expedition. This adventure involves a quest to find the best Tsukemen in New York City. Don't laugh. It's a very serious matter. To clarify, Tsukemen is a style of preparation rather than a description of its flavor. The noodles are served separately from the soup, which prevents the noodles from getting too soft and overcooked.
This is also a practical way to enjoy ramen in the summer months. It's hard to eat blistering hot ramen when it's already burning hot outside! On the other hand, it's torturous trying to avoid ramen for more than a month. Given this predicament, I suggest eating Tsukemen.
Momosan's Tsukemen is made with Tonkotsu Soup with Pork Chashu, Aji-tama (Soft-Boiled Egg), Menma (Bamboo Shoots), Takana (Pickled Mustard Leaf), Toasted Nori (Seaweed), Garlic Oil, and Lime. Tonkotsu is probably the most common type of broth. It's made by simmering pork and pork bones for hours on end until all the ingredients have basically liquefied into a rich bowl of soulful delight. Overall, Momosan's Tonkotsu is pretty good but I wasn't so into the Takana. The ramen was very savory (and potentially a bit too salty) but it was full of complex flavors. I'd say it's comparable to Ippudo or Ivan ramen.