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Mu Ramen: Ramen Worth the Short Trek to LIC

March 30, 2015
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When I first heard about Mu Ramen, the main question that popped into my head was, do we really need another ramen shop in New York?  After two visits, the answer is a resounding yes please!  Located just down Jackson Avenue from Sweet LeafMu found its permanent home after popping up at Bricktown Bagels occasionally throughout the fall last year.  And what a wonderfully hip and modern home it was.  One open long room with communal rustic tables with terrariums with the open kitchen at the end with a handful of seats, some of the best in the house if you ask me.

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The dining room here is always constantly packed with ramen slurpers hunched over their hot bowls, only coming up for air when absolutely necessary.  The menu at Mu is short and well curated, without too many dishes to confuse the diner.  But before I got into the bowls of ramen, I took a gander into the appetizer section and what a wonderful walk it was.  U & I is a simple appetizer, lobs of fresh uni and sparkling ikura and savory bites of spicy maguro rested atop of a tiny bowl of rice.  Even if no one else wants to share this, for fans of ikura and uni, the U & I bowl is a must.

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For as traditional as U & I is, the tebasaki gyoza is on the other side of the spectrum.  Beautifully fried wings stuffed with foie gras and quince, these would have been just at home on the menu of Wylie Dufrene’s Alder.  Instead of dredging the wings in egg whites which take days to prepare, these are coated with egg whites that had been forced through a whipper making them shatteringly light.  A bite through the flaky crust revealed a lovely filling of foie gras and sweet quince.  I ate the entire thing in three bites and left nothing left on the plate.

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Even though the appetizers are quite amazing, the bowls of ramen here are the real stars.  There are four main ramen with a few others that guest stars.  Each bowl is served in their own beautiful bowl, all made in Japan.  The thickness of the bowl and the material all play into how much heat it is able to retain, maintaining that perfect temperature as the ramen makes its way to the table.  The tonkotsu here is labeled with 2.0, a Mu take on the ubiquitous bone broth ramen.  Cooked for 16 hours to achieve that beautiful milky color, the broth is the star of this bowl.  The straight thin perfectly al dente noodles are not shabby either.  Even after resting in that amazing broth, the noodles still retained their bite – the sign of a great noodle.  An amazingly beautiful rendition on tonkotsu.

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The namesake ramen here is the Mu ramen, made with a lighter oxtail and bone marrow broth.  Instead of pork, you will find slices of tender brisket and cabbage and half sour pickles.  An unique take on ramen instead of the traditional pork based affair we often find.

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And for those who prefer chicken, there is an entirely poultry based ramen as well, totally chicken, as the name so clearly states.  The simple chicken paitan ramen is topped with confit chicken, roasted nori and bamboos. The chicken came with a slightly curly and thicker noodle, just a hint softer than the thin noodles found in the tonkotsu and Mu ramen.

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And lastly, there has to be a spicy ramen to round out the menu of any ramen shop.  The spicy miso here is made with red miso and pork broth and topped with chopped pork and corn.  The noodles are even thicker and chewier, perfect for when you are in the mood for something more udon like.  The broth is a little sweet and very well balanced despite the spicy miso.

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Even though Mu is located off the island of Manhattan, it is worth the short trek across the East River via the 7 train.  Same day reservations only starting at 3PM each day, seats here can be sometimes hard to secure but it will be worth every slightly infuriating dial after redial of the main line.  Especially when you have your face buried in a bowl of Mu’s fragrant noodles and amazing broth.

Mu Ramen | 1209 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11101 | http://ramennyc.wix.com/popup

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