Ramen at Back Bar.
We went today, friday, at 5; were the first to have ramen and saw 4 others w/ it by time we left at 6pm.
Comfy room w/ shallow banquette lining the room , but boringly greygreygrey. It was the car fix-it garage part of a long-ago Ford dealership.Tall ceilings(duh) and one skylight.
My cosmo was v good but disappointingly meager; neat list of artisinal vodkas. we both had ramen:
-excellent chewy noodles, much better than Sapporo
-beautiful soft egg which dissolved into the broth (SO preferred over that hard boiled egg at Sapporo)
-exc. roast pork flavor(star anise at least) ; much better than Sapporo (but also more fatty than Sapporo)
-nori is good topping but matchsticks would be much better than the large piece imo
- they brought me sesame seeds no charge
-I was psyched about the duck being in the broth but there was also a very weird flavor in that broth that i did not like.
'Sharp' comes to mind as a descriptor but i know that's not very helpful .
- pork was def not shredded(which i think would be great idea) and would have been just one 1/3" thick slice if we hadn't ordered extra (so we had 2 slices total v.s. Sapporo's
3 slices= extra.)
- needed more scallions (i requested extra)
- no bamboo shoots evident
- smaller portion than Sapporo; we both had extra pork and i also had pickled ginger as an extra; his was $15, mine was $16.
I liked the comfiness and quiet and would go back if they fixed their broth and gave more pork.
Aside: I would love to see them present the ramen in a NON trad way, acknowledging that most Americans are not Asian.If they would say, for instance: <Just as we do not make Americans sit on their knees, which is the trad Japanese custom, we will also not make Americans eat ramen in a trad way. We will cut the noodles and shred the meat to make it easier for the many who are not DNA gifted w/ chopsticks dexterity.> (or maybe they could at least offer on the menu
" on request, we are happy to serve your ramen and meat cut up." ) Don't bother yelling at me for this shockingly non-cool opinion. I already wear what i eat so ramen is the Matterhorn for me and i would just like to be able to easily eat it my way. For all of you who enjoy the challenge, all the more power to you; I am def'ly envious.
I went on Thursday and my experience had some overlap with yours. I liked the noodles' texture a lot, and the soft duck egg was a nice touch. I found your "sharp" flavor to be something like sourness - quite strong - enough to probably keep me from going back often. I found plenty of bamboo shoots in mine. Portion could be larger, but it wasn't too bad. Both here and Sapporo, I left / usually leave feeling like I didn't eat enough.
I was the 2nd person in at 4pm. By 4:20 there were 3 of us slurping away, the 2 others with their laptops open. The atmosphere is nice but I felt uncomfortable; I'm not used to slurping noisily in such a space. Also the bartender seemed to recognize that I was there solely for ramen and not for a longer stay with drinks, so service seemed to suffer a bit. Not rude by any means.
Btw most ramen restaurants in Japan would not have you sitting on your knees. It'd be regular tables or counter barstool seating. Not central to your point about non-chopstick options, I know. You could just use a fork? As long as you can enjoy your food.
I went yesterday (Saturday) about 15 minutes early, and by 3:58, eight of the ten portions had already been claimed. I was glad to try it, although I don't know if I'd go back specifically for it if people start lining up like crazy. I wonder if they'll eventually increase the number of portions if it gets more popular.
I'm no ramen expert, so I don't know if this is a traditional style, but here are the ingredients (from the Backbar website):
"The broth is made from pork and duck stocks, with scallops, miso and soy sauce. The noodles are made fresh daily and topped with shredded pork, runny duck eggs, scallions, and bamboo shoots. Then you can personalize by adding on kimchee, pork lard, garlic, extra noodles or just some bacon!"
It wasn't listed on the menu, and the add-ons weren't offered, so we didn't know to ask for anything extra. It was more like, "Are you here for the ramen?" "Yep!" "Ok."
It came topped with short ribs - yum! - and the egg was cooked perfectly. I was a fan of the noodles (hand-pulled, I think?) as well - great texture - and I appreciated the big hunk of seaweed. My friend and I weren't overly impressed by the broth. It wasn't bad at all, just not mind-blowing, I guess. It had a strong scent that seemed to be coming from the scallops; it was umami in the wrong way, if that makes any sense.
Still, it was very good overall and definitely worth a try if you can get in line before 4 PM. For my usual ramen cravings, I'd probably opt for Sapporo at Porter Exchange, where it's cheaper and you're guaranteed to get a serving, but this was a fun little adventure, and I do love the drinks and snacks at Backbar anyway.
(As a side note, I still haven't made it over to Yumewokatare, but that will be my next ramen adventure!)
i had a friend who went, and, to add information- apparently that blog post was not supposed to go up yet (or similar). At the least, they said this is still 'beta' and so they haven't figured out how to do the toppings yet, those are still in the works. from his report: very good duck flavor, tender noodles, but not enough pork or noodles. i do enjoy backbar's genius hour anyway, so i may go soon, but may hold off on ramen till you can add things on!
i've gone a few times during the week, usually right at 4... i haven't seen it get very loud by the time we leave (around 530) but its also, as you'd expect, contingent on the day, with thursdays/fridays picking up faster. i don't think you'd be out of place on a laptop, but most people i've seen come in are just there to drink and maybe get the platter (myself included), not to get any work done.