When I was a kid, the only ramen noodle soup I knew came out of a packet. Nissin Ramen came in two colors: red (or was it yellow?) for chicken, blue for beef flavor. Boil a couple cups of water, add the thin, wavy noodles, stir in the seasoning and the sesame oil and you get a hot and filling after-school snack.
These days, however, finding delicious authentic ramen is getting easier. Japanese noodle shops are popping up all over the place. I’d written about my favorite a number of times — Totto Ramen, near Times Square. There’s Ippudo, a couple of blocks away, and Mei Jin in the Upper West Side. But those are all an hour’s train ride away. What to do when I’m desperately craving noodles and can’t hop on a train? Well, there’s Kyoto Ramen in Bethpage.
A friend and I went to check out the place a couple of months ago. It’s in a shopping center right next to a Chinese restaurant that offers dim sum (note to self: must check out their dim sum). I got the spicy ramen (pictured at left) and I think she got the tonkotsu. My broth, made from pork bone chicken, was flavorful, the yellow wavy noodles nicely firm. The toppings were a nice mix of roasted pork belly, bean sprouts, mushroom, scallion and seasoned boiled egg. For a soup called spicy ramen, however, it needed a little bit more heat. My friend added a little more salt to her tonkotsu ramen, which had thin, straight white noodles, but enjoyed it overall. We also got simple, open-faced charsu pork buns with spicy mayo.
It’s not quite the ramen I’m used to from the shops in Manhattan but it would do in a pinch. Also, my ramen options are growing. Now, I’m hearing from another friend that there’s another noodle place, this time in Port Jefferson. I’ll let you know about that, too.