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Feb 18, 2008 07:35 AM

Ramen in Hartford CT

Just got back from NYC and had a great bowl of Ramen at Momofuku Noodle Bar. Anyone know of any authentic or not ramen shops around Hartford?

PS I am well versed in PHO and I am looking to try something new. Also, I live near Ichiban but did not see ramen on the menu...

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  1. szechuan tokyo has some good non-pho noodle soup meals and hot pot type offerings.. not a 'ramen shop' per se but i'm sure you'll enjoy

    1. if you are willing to drive to new haven we have several noodle houses that have opened in the last few years. My favorite it the York St. Noodle House, Dozo is also good.

      1 Reply
      1. re: EastRocker

        Unfortunately, Dozo closed. It was fantastic and I am going to miss it. There is a new noodle shop openning on Pratt St in downtown Hartford. I just saw the sign today.

      2. After trying all the Pho restaurants in the area several times, I think Pho Boston in West Hartford's Shield Street Plaza is really the best. They have an extensive noodle menu (in addition to the soup). I'll admit I haven't ventured far into it because the Pho soup is so great that I can't resist ordering it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: TimCat

          Thanks. We have been going to Pho Boston a couple times a month for six years now. That place is great.

          PS I did make the mistake of venturing into the menu and tried some more exotic soups. I guess you cant really expect to get a quality seafood soup for under $7.

        2. Tanuki Japanese Noodle Kitchen is set to open on Pratt Street sometime next week. It's owned by the folks from Murasaki in West Hartford. We've already started calling it "Chipmunk Noodles" because of their cute mascot, though.

          7 Replies
          1. re: TimCat

            A Tanuki is a raccoon, not a chipmunk. In Japanese lore, the Tanuki is much like the fox in western lore - a sly, tricky creature. Hmmm - makes you wonder.

            1. re: applehome

              Nice. Well, raccoon or chipmunk I hope it is good/authentic. I look forward to a new lunch place in downtown Hartford.

            2. re: TimCat

              Here's my review of Tanuki's.

              I found Tanuki's Japanese Noodle Kitchen because of their cute raccoon mascot (tanuki is actually a Japanese raccoon dog, check wikipedia) on a flag outside their entrance. They had nice decor inside with nice granite tables and even the plastic models of food you see in restaurants in Japan. They looked promising based on their wide array of noodle dishes in traditional Japanese styles.

              Wanting to try a couple things I ordered the katsudon and a children's ramen. The meal started with a "potato" salad even though it had no potato in it. Instead it had daikon radish and carrots in a ginger dressing which I think is much better and more appropriate. I'm just not sure why they called it potato; perhaps to make it sound more appetizing to those unfamiliar with Japanese cuisine.

              Next came the katsudon which looked promising with the traditional onions and egg on top. Unfortunately, I found it too soggy: the katsu might as well have been boiled. I complained and the owner, a Japanese chef, came and informed me that I must be mistaken. Being from Japan he assured me that he was right and that the katsu is supposed to be soggy and all the restaurants I had tried in Japan were making it wrong (I've been to Japan 6 times). I can understand that the katsu wouldn't be crispy like with tonkatsu but my complaint was that it was too soggy after which he said it was probably my fault for ordering brown rice instead of white.

              After that the owner told me that his other restaurant (Murasaki) had been rated the best in the country by Zagat and had a waiter fetch a letter from them. It turned out to be a letter saying that his other restaurant had been included in the "Best Japanese Restaurants of 2007" list which is quite different from being THE best Japanese restaurant in the country. He then said, "If all my customers were like you, then how did I get that award?" That bothered me but I remained pleasant.

              After leaving me be, I had a chance to try the ramen. It was equally disappointing. The first thing I noticed was that it tasted like bean sprouts, which is ok, except that's all it tasted like. The broth was flavorless like it had been watered down. The "fresh" noodles were forgettable as well, they weren't al dente or toothsome in any way. They had no flavor or character of any sort: the perfect match for the broth, I guess. It all paled in comparison to all 6 of the bowls of ramen I had at the Yokohama Ramen museum last year, or even the ramen at Mitsuwa Marketplace food court in Chicago (which I consider mediocre). Honestly, I've had better INSTANT ramen and would take a Nissin Cup Noodle out of a vending machine any day.

              They also failed to give me the dessert that is supposed to come with the childrens ramen and failed to ask me if I even wanted dessert before giving me the check. You may be thinking that the ramen was poor b/c it was for kids but it wouldn't make sense to have different broth and noodles for kids and even if they did, I wouldn't respect that decision either.

              In summary, I will not be returning.

              1. re: filbertman

                I'm not certain how familiar you are with Japanese food after 6 trips there, but having grown up there, I can assure you that Potato Salad (usually made with mayo) is indeed served frequently, especially at places that make yoshoku (western style food, like katsu) and okosama (children's) meals. Nobody would call a daikon salad, potato salad on a normal basis. Perhaps they had run out of the potato salad - did you ask them why your potato salad was a daikon salad?

                I think you do yourself a disservice in comparing any bowl of fresh made ramen, regardless of how bad, to Cup Noodle. It's a different animal - you would have different expectations and they wouldn't compare in any meaningful way. What kind of ramen was it? Shio, Shoyu, Tonkotsu, Miso? What was in it? Kamaboko, (or any kind of surimi), yakibuta? Was there any choice as to what to order (a good ramen shop would typically offer choices - what did you order?).

                On the one hand, if he offered brown rice, he should have served it without complaint and insuring that the dish was the best possible dish even with the inferior rice. On the other hand, it is inferior rice (unpolished) to the Japanese way of thinking, especially with a tsuyu (sauce). I'm not saying it was an error on your part for ordering something that was on the menu - just that this is where he was coming from. I am curious how the tonkatsu slices ended up soggy. Weren't they sitting on the rice? Was the entire bowl floating in the tsuyu? Did you allow them to float into the liquid while eating, or worse etiquette, mix them in? Many people like lots of tsuyu in their donburi, but know to eat the topping off the top. But white rice is key - it soaks up the tsuyu and tastes great.

                I'm never been there, so this guy could indeed be an AH, and his food could suck, just as you say. But assuming this guy was an AH, exactly how good did you think your ramen was going to be after that first encounter? Maybe he had some mop water...

                1. re: applehome

                  Ok, You're right that 6 trips to Japan doesn't mean all that much. I am actually Taiwanese and due to that have had some Japanese cultural influence (my parents having lived through Japanese imperialism and the handover to China) and was exposed to a wide variety of Japanese and Japanese influenced food since I was a young child. Heck, there are things I ate as a kid that I didn't even realize were Japanese until after college. I've been taken to a wide variety of "best" restaurants by locals in various cities including Tokushima/Shikoku, Hiroshima, Nagoyo, Yokohama, Kansai area and Tokyo and have done some personal exploring as well.

                  Obviously, this was my personal opinion and perhaps I am being a food snob, but I think his attitude put me off just as much. If someone else were to visit and provide an amazing and glowing review and a recommendation for an order, I would consider giving it another whirl. I am also considering checking out his other restaurant which has gotten good reviews.

                  I know that potato salad is quite common in Japan, I'm just not a fan of potato salad in general (Japanese or American). The waitress specifically asked me if I wanted potato salad and provided a description that did not include daikon, but I decided to try it. I was actually happy it ended up as a daikon salad.

                  Yes, perhaps comparing instant ramen to fresh is not fair, but that was my opinion. At that moment, and even now, a day later, I would have preferred a cup noodle regardless of the "low" or different status, but I also compared it to other ramens I've had. Of course, I cannot list every bowl of ramen that I've ever eaten. It was a shio broth, it included tofu, bean sprouts, green onions and lotus root. There was no surimi that I noticed (I love fish cakes) and there was no meat.

                  Yes there were other noodle choices that I considered. I had asked the waitress what their best dish was when I ordered and she suggested the Kim-chi ramen. Perhaps that was indeed their best dish... but while Korean food definitely has deep rooted connections, I opted for something more Japanese. Since I had basically ordered two entrees, that's why I chose the children's.

                  As for the katsudon, let me clarify one thing that I didn't say before. The katsudon TASTED fine. In fact, I would say it tasted pretty good and on par with my expectations. But it was indeed soggy, and perhaps the line cook made a mistake and doused it a bit too much. Yes, I know that brown rice isn't traditional, but I was trying to be (mildly) healthy. The onions were on the rice, the tonkatsu on top of the onions and a very large egg cooked on top. I too am curious as to how it ended up soggy, perhaps they poured a large amount of the sauce on top, but the rice was not swimming in the sauce, though there was enough to pool in the bottom of the bowl. The meat was floppy and had no bite. Perhaps it had been sitting around for a little while?

                  I can understand that perhaps the chef was a bit offended that I didn't like his food, but I think he gave me a little too much attitude. And the ramen and katsudon came out at the same time so I don't think they had a chance to do anything to my food. :)

                  1. re: filbertman

                    I've never been to Japan. I haven't eaten instant ramen since I was a poor college student. But I know tasteless when I (don't) taste it, and my recent experience at Tanuki resulted in a $13 lunch that left me hungry. The presentation was very pretty, with the noodles bundled to one side of the dish and slices of vegetables arranged around the chicken and what I assume was a "fish cake" (looked and tasted like imitation crab), and I understand the exotic ingredients like lotus blossom, etc mean a higher price tag, but the broth tasted like water. And I don't mean it tasted like water compared to the sodium-fest that passes for broth in the instant ramen packages. I mean water. Cute place, tasteless food, rude staff, I will not be going back.

                    1. re: citybrunette

                      My wife and I went there last week thinking they might have worked some kinks out since opening. The broth and noodles were okay. Service was horrible, tea water was too cold to steep the tea! The ramen I ordered came with two paper thin slices of pork . Oh well I'm going to complain to the owers and see where that goes.