536 E. 5th St.
New York City
From our newest eatclubber and contributor, Margarita, who has the honor of writing the first review of 2009!
Upon arriving at Minca Ramen Factory, I was met with the unmistakable, savory aroma of ramen broth. Bear in mind, the night before was New Year’s Eve and my body was thoroughly depleted of sodium. I desperately wanted to ask if I could have the broth be put into a mug so that I could greedily gulp it while we waited for a table. Every seat was taken, with either a couple here or a small group there slurping up noodles and salty, hot soup-y goodness. I started to fear that it would take a long while before we were sat down let alone someone took our order. One lone, busy lady was in charge of hosting, waitress-ing, busing and answering the phone (do they do take-out? was she giving table availabilities?). Luckily, two tables were finishing up and the zealous waitress did a swift job at accommodating our group.
I ordered the #9, which is described as spicy, with pork broth. The typically clear, thin Ramen broth was thickened with the “spicy” mixture giving it a light orange hue with red flecks. I found it to be pleasantly spicy and not overbearing at all. Even the more sensitive palates would be able to slop it up. The spices danced long enough on my tongue without having to rest too long between spoonfuls. The noodles were cooked to al dente perfection. There was enough springiness to it that it did not slide off my chopsticks. The obligatory egg (hard-boiled) disappointed. I would have preferred my egg to naturally cook in the hot soup, making the yolk an addition to the flavor. There was one slice of pork with a little bit of marbling that didn’t make me squeamish. I prefer a leaner cut but under these hung-over circumstances, I made an exception.
Don’t expect iced water at Minca’s or even cold water for that matter. The glasses must have come straight from the dishwasher because the water was lukewarm. It would have been more appropriate to drink a refreshing, cold glass of water to contrast the hot, flavorful soup. All in all, it was a great satisfying meal. I might not be as lucky with the service next time but the soup bowl #9 is well worth the trip to this desolate block in alphabet city. Until next time…M
Homemade pork gyoza (fried dumplings)
Close-up of miso ramen (drool…)
The crazy menu
Our newest eaters: H&M
bru’s 2 cent review
Minca is well worth the hike out to alpahbet city. The pork dumplings were indeed home made and cooked to perfection: crunchy caramelzied on the bottom while chewy and sticky on top. But the star of the night was the ramen. The miso ramen was FANTASTIC! It came with the recommended wavy noodles which were perfectly springy and toothy. The broth was a complex blend of pork and chicken that was not overpowered at all by the miso (as the case usually is). The cloudy caramel-colored concoction was surprisingly thick yet impossible to slurp enough of. The sliced swirls of fatty pork were prepared very well and has me craving more even as I write this review. The only flaw, if not personal prefernce, was the egg in the soup. Thanks to Setagaya, I expect the egg to be hard boiled but with a gooey yolk that runs somewhere between solid and liquid. The egg was still good as it was marinated in some sort of soy sauce. Although slightly above average at $11.50 a bowl, the miso ramen alone is well worth the price, the wait, and the trek out there. The place is small and unassuming from the outside as it sits in a desolate street. All that changes once you enter the door and experience the power of ramen.
Hours later, there was another confirmation that this ramen was the real McCoy: The salt/MSG thirst that usually accompanies a typical ramen eating session never occured. First time this has ever happened to me…or perhaps like M, I was severely depleted of sodium from the night before…