After coming from our epic two-week honeymoon/summer vacation, my wife Jun and I were a in desperate need for spicy food. None of Greece, Croatia and southern France employed the spicy ingredients the way Jun generously does when she cooks at home. After our Saturday pilates class, we were looking for a quick lunch, and I suggested to Jun that we check out a new ramen place in Greenwich Village that advertised its establishment as a shop focusing exclusively on spicy ramen. We had been to Mr. Taka in Lower East Side before and enjoyed the ramen there (the same team behind it was opened Karakatta), so I was hoping that we would have just as much satisfaction with a bowl of spicy ramen. Overall, I liked the ramen dish I ordered but wished I had gotten a different bowl instead.
The menu at Karakatta is not much different from other ramen shops, with a choice of ramen from half a dozen different selections and a bunch of appetizers to start. Jun and I typically order spicy cucumber when we go to a ramen place; the pickled dish at Karakatta was somewhat aggressive in its flavor on its own but worked slightly better with ramen. We also frequently order pork buns at a ramen shop; the one at Karakatta had a fairly generous size with the pork belly and with sriracha sauce, black pepper and leeks it provided satisfying bites. Now on to the ramen; we both ordered, upon the server’s recommendation, the spicy ginger stamina bowl based on chicken and pork broth. You get to choose the level of spiciness among two, three and five “fires” on the menu; we opted for level three.
The bowl again had a generous size of pork belly (although there was a bit too much fat in the meat that we had to shed) and liberally used a variety of vegetables such as cabbage, bean sprouts, chives, scallions and cilantro. The spiciness was coming from shredded and chopped red pepper and spicy oil in the broth. I don’t typically eat ginger other than when I dine at a sushi restaurant, and the addition of shredded ginger became more of a distraction to the spicy kick to the broth than I had hoped. While Jun loves ginger, she also thought the ginger in the broth was inhibiting the full spicy potential of the broth. The bowl’s wavy flat flour noodles also could’ve been a little bit more firm and lean (like the way at other establishments like Totto, Ippudo or Ichiran). It was by no means a bad bowl of ramen, but maybe I thought at the end of the meal I should’ve ordered something with ginger, say shoyu or butter miso.
Karakatta doesn’t accept reservations but you won’t have a problem getting seated for a quick lunch. Order a glass of beer to complement your summer meal. With all the steam coming from the ramen bowl, you’ll probably need it. We were hoping to have houjicha (grilled green tea) soft serve on the menu at the end of our meal but the server unfortunately informed us that it was not available. A lesson learned: don’t put ginger into your ramen bowl. I might come back to Karakatta just to try other ramen bowls, but I don’t know if I’ll eat the spicy ginger bowl again.
KenScale: 7.75/10 (Jun’s Score: 7.75/10)
- Creativity: 8.0/10
- Execution: 8.0/10
- Ingredients: 7.5/10
- Flavor: 7.5/10
- Texture: 7.5/10
- Value: 8.0/10
Address: 230 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012
Telephone: (917) 261-6297