I'm always down for a bowl of ramen. When the temperature reaches below 40 degrees, the craving hits hard. While NYC is experiencing unseasonably warm weather this "winter", I couldn't pass up an invitation to share a bowl of tonkatsu with Cia, mom to my dogphew, Attitcus, and a fellow foodie friend who also happens to be my neighbor. Once we set the date, I placed Mu Ramen on my calendar.
Just a stop outside of the city on the 7 train (say that three times fast), Mu Ramen may be my new go-to ramen spot simply for the fact that I got there from work 15 minutes.
I arrived a little after 6 on a Tuesday and knew I'd like the place right away; Nas was playing in the background. Cia and I were sat promptly at the corner bar seats (guests are sat on a first-come first-served basis). Here, we got a first hand look at the kitchen in action. Compared to other ramen spots I've frequented, Mu was fairly quiet. There was no loud Japanese welcome, no clashing of dishes from an open kitchen and I didn't have to yell when I spoke.
On to what we ate:
The appetizers got to us, so we had three. First up, the U&I.
I'm sucker for salinity and uni never fails. Sans the wasabi (just not a fan), Mu's U & I hit all the right spots for me: texture, salt, no crazy, unexpected flavors that would taint the dish + the rice was the perfect base.
There's not much one can do to make a fried pork chop look appealing. Appearance aside, this dish had me wanting it with a spoonful or two of sushi rice. I'm a big fan of onion and the caramelized dashi + negi in this Katsu Tamanegi was a nice treat before the main ramen dish.
At first glance, this appetizer looks like a fried, jumbo shrimp, but it's deep fried chicken. Better yet, fried chicken wings stuffed with foie gras and brioche. Typing those words alone made me salivate. Unfortunately, this dish, Tebasaki Gyoza, didn't blow me away, which was its' intention. I enjoyed the light fried batter on the outside of the chicken and getting to the rich foie "nugget" was like excavating a treasure--quite a treat. Trust me, the chicken was cooked thoroughly; the menu made it clear that the pink inside was due to the foie.
Without fail, I always order Tonkotsu at ramen spot, but I felt that I couldn't go to Mu Ramen without having its namesake dish. I took this photo from Pete Wells' NY Times review of Mu Ramen because you can really see each component of the soup. Made with a base of oxtail and bone marrow (!!!), Mu Ramen had the flavors of everything I want from a classic deli: corned beef, cabbage and sour pickles. What I enjoyed most was the noodles: slightly chewy and dense enough to hold up to the other ingredients. We topped ours with a sous vide egg aka, the icing on the cake.
12-09 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11101