Hide-Chan Ramen – More Pork Fat Than You Can Poke a Chopstick at!

One food the Bogan and I can usually always agree on is ramen. I’ve never known the Bogan turn down a big bowl of salty, hot noodles – especially on a cold or rainy evening.

New York is home to a few decent ramen houses, too. The first one we became addicted too was Noodle Bar in the West Village. The make a mean bowl of salty goodness, except ramen isn’t their only thing and they spread their skills over a number of other Asian dishes, including fried rice and stir fries.

The next ramen house we became (and still are) obsessed with – despite only having dined there once, is Totto Ramen. Totto Ramen happens to be owned by the same folks that recently opened up Hide-Chan Ramen, but the two bars have made their specialties 2 different styles of broth. Totto works its mastery around the less common chicken based broth, while over at Hide-Chan, on the opposite side of town, they specialise in “tonkotsu” – a pork broth. After having enjoyed a very delicious bowl of noodles on our last visit to Totto Ramen, this time we decided to give Hide-Chan a visit.

When we arrived at the restaurant, immediately it is much bigger than its sibling – while still being busy. We managed to jag a seat at the bar without a wait.

As usual, we were starved and went straight in to the ordering. We had an appetizer of gyoza to begin which we specifically asked that we’d like to have first – as oppose to at the same time (or after) the mains, which often happens in Asian restaurants. The almost got it – the appetizer came out first, but was almost immediately followed by our noodles! Nevertheless, the gyoza were very fresh and extremely delectable!

Mini Pork Gyoza Dumpling

Now, here’s where it’s important you pay close attention. When you order your ramen, you also must specify to what firmness you’d like your noodles and how much pork fat you want in your bowl. This is a very new concept to me so i asked the waitress for her advice – she suggested a medium noodle and medium amount of fat in the broth… the Bogan and I took her word for it and that would be the end of the Bogan’s ramen (I’ll explain shortly)!

Noodle firmness and broth fat options

For the ramen, i had read that the Hakata Kuro Ramen served, with original “ma-yu” roasted garlic oil,was their speciality. The dish basically has this dark black colouring due to the garlic oil which gives it an amazing flavour.  The Bogan went for the Hakata Grilled Pork Toro Ramen which is also made with the their pork broth, but includes slithers of cheek meat from berkshire pork, marinated with brown sugar and soy sauce. Both dishes were delicious… or, at least would have been had we realised the extent to which they actually meant “indicates pork fat contents” when we signed up for a medium amount in our broth. Basically, when our ramen arrived, there was actual blobs of pork fat spooned over the top. The Bogan was absolutely detested by this and refused to eat it, he described how the pork fat looked and felt to be as if the chef had gone and collected the waste product from a liposuction clinic and spooned it over his soup! I wouldn’t go that far – i still ate mine, but i was starving! Just FYI – if you ever visit, take this factor into serious consideration when you select your “fat content”.

Hakata Kuro Ramen with the black garlic oil which was so dark it could almost be mistaken for squid ink!

The Bogan's Hakata Grilled Pork Toro Ramen with berkshire pork cheek

This barbecued pork cheek tasted amazing - there was very little fat on it and it was extremely tender. The flavour of the soy and sugar marinade wasn't overwhelming and was complemented by a slight smokiness of the cooking.

While you can't detect it from a picture, the noodles were al dente!

Almost done - it's tough to finish a whole bowl of ramen!

Unfortunately, due to the pork fat, the Bogan wouldn’t eat his ramen, but the broth was delicious and the pork cheek even more so, had it not been for that small error! My ramen was also great, though i guess my expectations were a little high going into the garlic oil – just from reading so many amazing reports. Unfortunately it wasn’t as flavoursome as i perhaps was expecting, but the broth and noodles, of course, were still delicious.

So tell me Dear Reader, what amount of pork fat would you select for your ramen?

Hide-Chan Ramen

48 E 52nd St

New York, NY

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