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Archive for November, 2007

So I’m saddened to say that one of my favorite eateries has bitten the dust. It’s the small space with the small garden area behind Ramen Setagaya. People are probably paying too much attention to the ramen place to consider going to the hidden quieter gem in the back. I mean, yes, the name, Oriental Spoon makes me cringe but the food is good, the service is good, and the ambiance is good. What more can one ask for? Oh right, a shelf life of more than 6 months.

While I’m probably over-hyping the quality of the food here, I did enjoy my experience and I think that always makes the food stand out more. I must admit that some of the dishes could use a little improvement, but I didn’t think there was anything that couldn’t be improved with time.

Unfortunately, I don’t remember the exact specifics of each dish so you’ll just have to deal with the pictures.

bar
bar area

garden space
overlooking the “garden” area

backwall
interesting wall design

 

We started with a sashimi salad. The selection of fish was small but the quantity was fairly large for a small plate and it was topped with a bunch of shredded daikon.

sushi salad

They have HUMUNGO ROLLS.  Hu-mung-go!

sushi

This is their sampler appetizer platter. Clockwise from the top left: 1. Sashimi with pickled shredded daikon and caviar 2. tuna with a wasabi based sauce 3. sashimi pieces in ponzu sauce 4. tempura eel rolls

sampler

Chicken wings wrapped in some type of bitter tasting dried veggie. Chicken was nice and crispy but it was too hard to eat with the veggie, I had to take it out.

fried chicken

Calamari. Pieces of squid were good sized but it was lacking in the crunch factor

calamari

Pineapple curry chicken.

curry rice

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EVERYONE and their grandmothers have been talking about the newest ramen place in the East Village. Of course that means it’s what I need to try it the next time I’m in New York and that’s exactly what I did. I’m currently living in 3, yes 3, different cities at the moment. Munich for work, Missouri for the Boy, and NYC, ya know, for the food. I think I’ve been at home in New York a total of 10 days in the last two months. Anyways, back to the restaurant. The place I’m talking about is Ramen Setagaya. It’s a tinyyyy, let me re-emphasize, tinyyyy place with at most maybe 20 seats. I went directly after work with two of my girl friends one day and we didn’t have to wait for a table.  If you want to beat the line, and there is normally ALWAYS a line, go around 6PM or earlier. 

There was also an Asian tapas place behind the ramen shop which I also tried, but I’ve since heard they’ve closed down.  I think it’s such a tragedy because I actually enjoyed the tapas place more than the ramen.

ramen settagaya outside

First of all, I have to acknowledge my love for tiny eateries.  It must be the intimacy and the familial-ness that draws me in.  This may also be why tiny eateries who make bad food just makes me want to cry.  I take their short-comings to heart.  While Setagaya does not make me want to cry internally, it does make me a little sad.  They have all the staples of a good tiny eatery.  Line shooting out the door.  Seating for less than 20.  Quick service.  You can see into the kitchen and the cooks from virtually any seat.  But I’m left with a few reservations after my experience.

setagaya kitchen opening
feels like he’s taking a take-out order, doesn’t it?

 First, I’m going to quote from silverjay; he says that there’s a “Japanese impression of American tastes is that we like things strongly flavored” and I think that may contribute to the saltiness of the broth.  I do have to acknowledge that they use a salt based broth, or shio rather, made with, none other than, real salt.  However, I don’t believe that a salt broth should be so salty that one doesn’t even want to drink the broth at all.  At this point, I was thinking that I should have tried their dipping noodles instead.  I could then control how much of the broth should go on my noodles.  Needless to say, my companions and I thought it was overly salty.  Setagaya uses pork and chicken bones did make for a very deeply favored broth, but the shio made it difficult to enjoy.  Silverjay went closer to the grand opening of the Setagaya and said that the dried scallops and anchovies gave the broth a stronger seafood taste than pork.  I didn’t taste any seafood and I have a strong seafood radar since I’m allergic to a bunch of it. 

I do enjoy the texture of the ramen noodles, they had a little spring in their steps when I was eating them.  Some people say that their noodles are too chewy, but I actually liked that.  I also got 4 pretty hefty sized pieces of pork, which was marinated beforehand and half a half oozing egg. 

classic pork ramen

For me. the best thing from the ramen house wasn’t the ramen, it was the mini rice bowl.  This was awesome.  I mean Perfection.  But then again, it’s hard to mess up chicken and rice, right?  Minced chicken with an organic egg garnished with seaweed and green onion.  I don’t care how bad it is for me, egg yolk over warm rice is the best thing everrr, with a little drizzle of soy sauce of course.  I even have a Persian friend who does the egg yolk over cold rice, she says in her family, warm rice is taboo.  If you ask me, I’d come here again just for the rice and maybe the dipping noodles.  Although, I heard that they use different noodles for that dish, so I may have to request this particular ramen.  I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!

chicken rice

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