Yuji Ramen is run by Yuji Haraguhi and was originally a pop up at Smorgasburg. However, he has now set up a temporary pop up restaurant on the 2nd floor the Whole Foods on Bowery and is moving to a permanent space in Brooklyn after July. Besides being well known for having some very unique ramen, Yuji is also interesting because they do a ramen tasting menu, which unfortunately is completely booked out.
The space is just a long wooden counter on the 2nd floor of the Whole Foods, so there isn’t too much to say about the restaurant itself. It’s very casual and similar to going to a food court because you order at the register and then can either eat at the counter or one of the various tables on the 2nd floor.
Here’s what we got:
Bacon and Egg Mazemen:
Mazemen is a style of ramen that is basically ramen with very little or no soup; I believe it’s a fairly new concept from Japan (feel free to correct me on that). They use a thicker yellow egg noodle that is kind of like fettuccine. The noodles are excellent; they are perfectly al dente and have great texture. The toppings are a soft boiled egg, crispy pieces of bacon, dried bonito shavings and greens. There is also a light slightly sweet sauce that I believe is soy sauce based. It’s quite a flavor bomb between the bacon, bonito and sauce. It was pretty tasty although heavy and probably not something I would order very often. 7.75/10 (8.5/10 for the noodles, 7.5/10 for everything else)
Salmon Cheese Mazemen:
This mazemen has salmon cured with lemon zest and Sichuan peppercorn, nori (seaweed), greens, the same light sweet sauce and yes it has cheese on it! The cheese sauce is a mix of Camembert and heavy cream. The creamy sauce goes well with the noodles and salmon although it’s quite heavy. Overall, it was a bit more a novelty for me than something I’d probably order again although it was reasonably tasty. 7.5/10 (8.5/10 for the noodles, 7.25/10 for everything else)
Roasted Miso Vegetable Mazemen:
This mazemen has cauliflower, carrot and turnip in a barley-based miso sauce topped with shredded kale and seaweed. This one tastes exactly how it sounds and is definitely the lightest of the mazemen offerings. It’s not quite the flavor bomb that the other two are, but I probably liked this one the best because I could eat it on a more regular basis. 7.75/10
While everyone has been talking about the unique mazemen and the ramen tasting menu, the star for me has been the shoyu ramen. The broth and toppings change daily depending on available bones and trim from the Whole Foods meat and fish counters downstairs. The noodles are the thinner ramen noodles, which were nicely al dente and good quality. The broth was pork bone based; it was very nice and had a level of complexity that doesn’t just rely on a lot of salt and can only be done by teasing the flavor out of bones. They had smoked blue fish as the topping, which was nice and complemented the ramen nicely without overpowering it. I really liked the ramen here and it’s probably my favorite ramen in NY right now. 8.25/10
Overall, I really like the shoyu ramen here and the mazemen is definitely interesting. I look forward to trying to ramen tasting menu one day (probably once they open in Brooklyn).
95 E Houston St, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10002