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Jun 29, 2013 02:38 PM

Yuji Ramen – Some Very Interesting Ramen…At Whole Foods

**For full post and pics**:

Yuji Ramen is run by Yuji Haraguhi and was originally a pop up at Smorgasburg. However, he has now set up a temporary pop up restaurant on the 2nd floor the Whole Foods on Bowery and is moving to a permanent space in Brooklyn after July. Besides being well known for having some very unique ramen, Yuji is also interesting because they do a ramen tasting menu, which unfortunately is completely booked out.

The space is just a long wooden counter on the 2nd floor of the Whole Foods, so there isn’t too much to say about the restaurant itself. It’s very casual and similar to going to a food court because you order at the register and then can either eat at the counter or one of the various tables on the 2nd floor.

Here’s what we got:

Bacon and Egg Mazemen:
Mazemen is a style of ramen that is basically ramen with very little or no soup; I believe it’s a fairly new concept from Japan (feel free to correct me on that). They use a thicker yellow egg noodle that is kind of like fettuccine. The noodles are excellent; they are perfectly al dente and have great texture. The toppings are a soft boiled egg, crispy pieces of bacon, dried bonito shavings and greens. There is also a light slightly sweet sauce that I believe is soy sauce based. It’s quite a flavor bomb between the bacon, bonito and sauce. It was pretty tasty although heavy and probably not something I would order very often. 7.75/10 (8.5/10 for the noodles, 7.5/10 for everything else


Salmon Cheese Mazemen:
This mazemen has salmon cured with lemon zest and Sichuan peppercorn, nori (seaweed), greens, the same light sweet sauce and yes it has cheese on it! The cheese sauce is a mix of Camembert and heavy cream. The creamy sauce goes well with the noodles and salmon although it’s quite heavy. Overall, it was a bit more a novelty for me than something I’d probably order again although it was reasonably tasty. 7.5/10 (8.5/10 for the noodles, 7.25/10 for everything else)

Roasted Miso Vegetable Mazemen:
This mazemen has cauliflower, carrot and turnip in a barley-based miso sauce topped with shredded kale and seaweed. This one tastes exactly how it sounds and is definitely the lightest of the mazemen offerings. It’s not quite the flavor bomb that the other two are, but I probably liked this one the best because I could eat it on a more regular basis. 7.75/10

Shoyu Ramen:
While everyone has been talking about the unique mazemen and the ramen tasting menu, the star for me has been the shoyu ramen. The broth and toppings change daily depending on available bones and trim from the Whole Foods meat and fish counters downstairs. The noodles are the thinner ramen noodles, which were nicely al dente and good quality. The broth was pork bone based; it was very nice and had a level of complexity that doesn’t just rely on a lot of salt and can only be done by teasing the flavor out of bones. They had smoked blue fish as the topping, which was nice and complemented the ramen nicely without overpowering it. I really liked the ramen here and it’s probably my favorite ramen in NY right now. 8.25/10

Overall, I really like the shoyu ramen here and the mazemen is definitely interesting. I look forward to trying to ramen tasting menu one day (probably once they open in Brooklyn).

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  1. I am somewhat addicted to the salmon cheese mazemen, and I try to find excuses to go to Whole Foods just to order it. For whatever the reason (I don't usually eat cured salmon or cheese, though I like both) the combination (with the lemon and shiso) offers enough to please in terms of flavor but portioned so that it isn't overkill, and leaves me wanting more.

    The mazemen portions are just a touch on the slightly small side, but as a small lunch it's adequate.

    Other than that, that I am aware of, your background is a little off. Yuji still is at Smorgasburg, where the menu offering is somewhat different/more seasonal. He was at a Kinfolk pop up previously, which was pretty amazing tasty.

    And the shoyu ramen at WFM changes, not sure if it's daily or weekly or whatnot, but it does change. The ramen I definitely feel is on the skimpy side.

    Anyway, it's good stuff.

    3 Replies
    1. re: villainx

      yah i liked the salmon and cheese, but it was a bit rich for my taste, so i just couldn't see myself eating it very often. its a personal thing though so i could see how some people could really like it as it is a well prepared dish

      i didnt realize they were still at smorgasburg...maybe ill go give it a try soon and yah i mentioned in the post that the ramen changes based on what they can get

      the portions are definitely a bit on the small side, but its fine the prices aren't very high anyhow

        1. re: villainx

          haha yah that would be good...i actually just had the shoyu ramen tonight bc my pics looked really good after i wrote this and i started craving it

    2. As you say the broth was full of flavor and the noodles stellar. For me the broth could be better if it had less salt, but I would not consider leaving any as I do in many of the noodle stalls of the world.
      The ramen is served in medium small portions, not the usual massive bowl, for $10.

      7 Replies
      1. re: wewwew

        well for me i actually thought they went relatively easy on the salt compared to basically any of the places in NY, i mean i guess in general as well, i didn't find it saltier than any of the places i had in Japan or LA either

        that said he doesn't make it the same everytime so he could've changed it up and could be saltier now, i actually saw him coming from the butcher shop today at whole foods

        1. re: Lau

          Could be batch variation, the kind of thing I will be happy to monitor.

          1. re: wewwew

            haha agreed...but back to the main point, im glad you enjoyed the ramen there, i enjoy it quite a bit and ive been going alot

            was it still the blue fish ramen when you went? (i havent been in about 3 or so weeks)

            1. re: Lau

              No blue fish, tuna. I was back today and the stock was less salty not no less great, pickles nice and the veggie mazemen for some else.

              1. re: wewwew

                oh interesting, how did you think the tuna complimented it?

                1. re: Lau

                  I would have liked a more assertive fish, blue or mackerel, which they said they also use.
                  My ears perked up when the counter folk said they plan on serving a Japanese breakfast once they are in Brooklyn.

                  1. re: wewwew

                    oh yah? that would be awesome, im going to write a review of this japanese breakfast place i like in LA...ill post up the link here when i get to it