A Cozy Experience for the Casual Ramen Enthusiast
Jun-Men ramen is quite an unexpected find hidden in north Chelsea on the island of Manhattan. The remnants of a covid-plagued city are apparent as you pass the pink canopies that have been constructed during COVID. There’s something intangible that is very unique and inviting to the enclosure, almost like a home.
The restaurant itself is relatively small with a completely exposed kitchen that might remind you of a ramen bar in Japan. And yet there is a funkiness to the restaurant as you peer around and witness the graffiti walls with what appears to be randomness.
I decide to sit at the ramen bar so I can see the chefs in action. They have moved everything to QR code menus so I pull out my phone to see what’s on the menu. The menu is actually quite simple with just about a handful of classic ramen options. I take it as a good sign hoping that they’ve perfected the traditional options like tonkotsu or miso ramen. I decided to try the spicy miso ramen as I am a fan of rich broths and wanted to see how well this one was executed.
The first thing that popped out was the juxtaposition of colors that were presented in the bowl. The orange broth contrasted well with the darker colors of the chashu and mushrooms. The egg, while somewhat sunken, was cooked just right to preserve its creamy-like texture. The aesthetic overall was appealing but as one can see in the photo above, it was presented somewhat haphazardly. That being said, it still presented in a way that was mouth-watering.
Spicy miso ramen is from the Hokkaido region of Japan and is usually best eaten during a cold winter night. I immediately realize why as I have my first sip of the broth. There are a lot of flavors that present themselves. Most prominently is the creaminess of the broth that gives a heaviness to every sip. I want to say it’s almost buttery in nature. At the same time, you also get notes of spiciness but it complements the creaminess well. And lastly you get saltiness which is ironic since miso has some of the lowest salt contents of the various ramen types. The only challenge with the broth is perhaps that it is too creamy. Usually I would finish every drop of broth but after consuming so much of the rich broth, I found it difficult to finish.
The noodles were somewhere between a thick and thin noodle for the dish. Traditionally, thicker noodles are used to complement the creaminess of the miso broth but these noodles were still fresh and chewy. There was also a plentiful amount inside the bowl so I didn’t feel as if they were lacking.
Diving in further we get to another reason why I love miso ramen, the meat. The pork chashu hit most of the right notes in that it was very tender and cooked perfectly. I’m unsure of the marinade as the broth tended to overwhelm any possible marinade that the chashu had been cooked with. But in case you wanted more, Jun-Men Ramen’s miso ramen frequently has ground pork at the bottom which is an added benefit of the dish. The ground pork here was also well cooked and gave additional complements to the rich broth with every bite.
Jun-Men may very well be the diamond in the rough of Chelsea, New York. It presented well across the board but it’s the broth that really shined here. The dish might have been elevated if there was a component that cut the richness of the dish such that it wouldn’t be overwhelming by the end of the dish. Even so, Jun-Men Ramen presents itself as a solid contender as one of New York’s finest ramen bars. If you enjoy a rich experience, it may be for you.