New York City sure can’t get enough of ramen, can it? Already in the middle of fall and the winter quickly approaching, ramen shops will surely be red-hot destinations for New Yorkers soon. There are already a number of stand-outs like Totto, Ippudo and Ivan Ramen but over the past couple of years other newcomers, especially those from chains in Japan that are opening their first outposts in the Big Apple, have made some noise too. Earlier this year, my wife Jun and I have a fantastic ramen at Ichiran. Can E.A.K. ramen, a new ship from another Japanese chain Iekei Ramen that recently opened in Greenwich Village, make similar impressions? Unfortunately, the ramen experience at E.A.K. felt short of my expectations.
The beginning of our meal went well, with crunchy homemade cucumber kimchi doing its job to whetting our appetite before the ramen comes. We also both thought the homemade ginger gyoza filled with seasoned pork, ginger and chives was quite capably cooked for some really satisfying bites. For our ramen dishes, I went for the original shoyu version and Jun went for the spicy “Oh So Hot!” miso version. I’ve tried dozens of ramen dishes by now, and for me there are two qualifies to decide whether a ramen dish is successful or not. First, the noodle needs to be at an optimally thin level with chewy texture to make slurping as pleasant as possible. Unfortunately, E.A.K.’s noodle was on the thicker side, not as thick as udon (another Japanese noodle soup) but still not thin enough such that I felt a little bit overwhelmed as I started slurping.
Second, the broth needs to be rich but not overly heavy or thick; the whole point of having a bowl of ramen is to have that aromatic soup to warm your heart but not cause indigestion to your body, isn’t it? E.A.K.’s broth, while not bad, didn’t have that soothing quality; rather, it was thicker than I had been grown used to at a ramen shop. Add the fact that the bowl didn’t have a ton of vegetables (I could only see spinach in it) to go along with pork chashu and seasoned egg, and this bowl turned into a rather average one in the very competitive ramen scale. I stole a bit from Jun’s Oh So Hot! and the spicy kick of the broth somewhat helped mitigate the shortcomings that I had experienced from my bowl in terms of the quality of broth; and her bowl even had bean sprouts and cabbage!
The restaurant doesn’t take reservations but you probably don’t need one so long as you show up early in the evening. There are some beer and sake options to complement your meal. There is a separate bar area where we spotted a lot of solo diners looking to get a quite bowl before heading out. E.A.K.’s Ramen was by no means terrible, but the ramen bowls left us feeling slightly unsatisfied. Of course, how one likes to have a ramen prepared is a perfectly subjective matter, but I just wouldn’t put them on the same level as the other ramen leaders in the NYC dining scene.
- Creativity: 7.5/10
- Execution: 7.0/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 7.5/10
- Texture: 7.5/10
- Value: 7.5/10
Address: 469 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10011
Telephone: (646) 863-2027