It was finally my one day off and Mother Nature decided that NYC should be chilly and gloomy. However, I was determined to make the best of it. I have been wanting to visit this restaurant that opened recently, and this was the perfect day to do it.
Momosan Ramen and Sake
342 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016
Momosan Ramen and Sake is Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s latest restaurant concept; a ramen shop “where noodles are front and center,” according to the official Momosan website. However, the menu also offers other tasty appetizers, 20 sake options, three draught and three bottled beers, and choice of either two reds or two whites for wine drinkers.
The anticipation had been building for a while, but it was on some serious overdrive when I crossed the threshold and laid eyes on a familiar figure. “Is that…oh em gee, that’s Morimoto!” I Irish whispered as I grabbed my accompaniment by his arm and nearly knocked him over. The hostess giggled at my ecstatic expression and sat us at the bar.
Chef Morimoto was literally the length of a high five away almost the entire time, watching over his line, cooking, bussing tables, as well as touching tables and rubbing elbows with guests, myself included. At one point I got a bit ditzy and dropped the menu out of my hand. I just went and got it and held on to it, but Chef felt that I needed a fresh one, so he went over to the hostess stand and fished me out a new menu!
A few minutes had passed, and I was able to collect myself and look around the restaurant. The colors are neutral, yet elegant. Pasta decorates the walls of the restaurant as a sort of edible crown molding.
I was flipping through my fresh menu, and my companion and I decided that we should try some of the sake. We each had a glass of the Rihaku, which has notes of coconut and pumpkin. It’s presented in a most unusual manner; the glass is placed inside of a square bowl and then purposely overfilled, letting the extra pour into the square bowl. This is done as a welcoming gesture, letting you know that your presence is appreciated and enjoyed. You’re to drink the contents of the glass first, and then pour the additional liquid into your glass as an “extra” way to say “welcome, thanks for coming by.”
Then the fun began. We ended up trying the Edamame, Pork Gyoza, Sticky Ribs, and the Napa Cabbage, and the Crispy Mimiga (pig ear) appetizers.
The presentation was beautiful, following suit with clean lines and classy yet simple (but by no means basic) plating. It was all so delicious, and so many different flavors and textures were lingering on my palate.
My friend had his fill with the appetizers, but I knew it was just a warm-up for me; I wasn’t leaving without a bowl of ramen. I had a bowl of Tokyo Chicken ramen, which was almost too beautiful to eat. I loved the piece of nori with the restaurant logo (I love the simpler things in life). The rainbow of colors in my bowl was quite visually appealing, and the broth was so rich, it sent my umami sensing taste buds into a sort of tranquil hypnosis. Each sip took me deeper into a semi-dreamlike food coma state.
After the meal was over, I fully gathered my composure and asked Chef if he wouldn’t mind taking a photo with me. He did so happily, thanked me for coming in, and warmly shook my hand. Chef Morimoto may be a man of few words, but his presence and atmosphere spoke volumes to me that afternoon, and I can’t wait to go back there soon for another taste of Japan through the eyes of an Iron Chef.