It has been positively arctic around here the past few days, with highs in the teens and lows in the single digits (it was zero on Saturday), so I’ve been thinking about hot, spicy, delicious ramen a lot. Then I realized I’d never told you about this other noodle house I’d been to in Manhattan — Mei Jin Ramen on the Upper West Side.
It was a chilly night so we started off with hot green tea. And while we were waiting for the rest of our group to show up, we ordered “Japanese Fried Chicken,” which was essentially chicken cutlets fried ala tempura and served with sansho pepper salt (that’s the green powder you’re seeing) and spicy mayo.
Now, the difference between this place and the other two I’ve written about is that Mei Jin offers beef broth. Totto Ramen and Ippudo both offer pork, chicken and miso. Now, you’re probably going to yell at me because the bowl pictured at left, that’s not the beef broth ramen, that’s actually the miso with slices of beef. I know, I know … I’m not sure why I didn’t order the beef. But the miso was really good, too — it had slices of beef, bean sprout, corn, arugula, bamboo, naruto (that’s the fish cake with a pink swirl in the middle), green onion, garlic chips, sesame and chili oil.
Mei Jin resembles Ippudo more than Totto Ramen (although the latter has opened a new branch, more spacious and a bit more upscale than the original). It’s spacious, with long tables meant for groups big and small. The panels on the wall with Japanese script are menu items, I was told. And the large basket lanterns actually give the place a homey feel.
We didn’t leave without trying out dessert, of course. I ordered the chocolate roll, which was very good but nothing spectacular. I wonder if it came from Spot Dessert Bar, a popular sweets place on St. Mark’s Place that shares an owner with Mei Jin Ramen.