This week, it's Jun-Men Ramen! Best for an affordable bowl of that oh-so-beloved favorite, ramen, with all the flare fit for a date night. With Winter approaching, it's that time of year to find the best and newest ramen spots to cozy up in your neighborhood. This Tuesday Jun-Men Ramen – a ramen focused spot in Chelsea – was on the agenda. Jun-Men Ramen has about 25 seats total in the restaurant, so expect to wait as they do not take reservations. It consists of two “ramen bars” and two communal tables that give diners a view of the open kitchen. Squeezed in the middle of a communal table with two of my girlfriends, we were ready to eat.
Although at first glance Jun-Men may appear a traditional ramen restaurant, Chef Jun Park has produced something even more special, fusing multiple cuisines together – Japanese, Korean, Italian, and American – to create a menu that is as familiar as it is surprising.
The menu is split up into two sections – Bites and Ramen. My favorites from Bites included: BBQ Pork Bun with kara-age, lettuce and jalapeno mayo: one of the tastiest pork buns I’ve ever had. The pork was evenly glazed with dynamite BBQ sauce that elevated the flavor of the actual pork. Jun-Men Fried Rice served with Chinese sausage, kimchi, fried egg and tobiko: simply addictive. This fried rice was enhanced with salty elements from the Chinese sausage and nutty tobiko. Chicken Wings that are double fried and sit in jun-men sauce. This secret sweet jun-men sauce on the crispy fried chicken really did it for me.
Four Ramen dishes are highlighted - Pork Bone, Spicy Miso, Kimchi and Uni Mushroom. If you want to impress that from-out-of-town friend, the Uni Mushroom Mazamen is what you should order! Mazamen style ramen has been popping up at ramen restaurants recently. Essentially a dry ramen, Mazamen allows chefs to add even more unique toppings and coat the noodles in a variety of sauces. At first taste the Uni Mushroom Mazamen could be easily mistaken for a version of carbonara or alfredo fettuccine, it's coated with a porcini butter and truffle oil sauce tossed with roasted pancetta. To add a Japanese flare, fried shallots, scallions and uni garnish the plate. And like that, “surf and turf” ramen was born.
Say you're not quite in the adventurous mood. The classic pork ramen is no plain Jane, and will definitely leave you happy. In a market that's becoming more and more competitive, serious kudos are in order for Chef Jun Park - opening a ramen restaurant that has a true edge. Leaving full and content, somehow, I was still thinking about next week’s Taster Tuesday meal. See you then!