Ramen Setagaya Review: Winter is for ramen and hibernation

Ramen Setagaya Review: Winter is for ramen and hibernation

When it gets cold I like loading up on carbs and store a lot of fat for the winter. While this may sound scary for my doctor or my mom, it sounds kinda nice to me. The other day Jonathan was telling me about how Grace carb-loaded before a marathon. You know, I like carb loading and then watching football. One is eating and exercising, the other is eating and being fat. Of the two, I seem to settle for the latter way too much. Cold weather and carb loading combines two of my favorite things. Ramen makes its way to my regular diet during the cold months of the year. Whether it’s Ippudo or Rai Rai Ken, I pretty much love them all. I never know what to say when someone asks which one is my favorite. It’s like you have the stable full of unicorns and someone asks you, “Which one is not an unicorn but instead is actually a pony with a fake horn on it’s head?” See what I mean? Just shut up and eat the noodles.

Shio ramen at Ramen Setagaya costs $10 dollars, which puts this at market prices. Not quite as crazy as Ippudo prices but not cheap enough to make you rush out your door either. For just $2.50 more, you can also get yourself some Oyakodon, and more on that later.

I think when you come to these ramen joints, there’s three things to really look for. Broth, pork, and noodles. There’s a huge difference between the pork you get at Ippudo or Minca (awesome) versus the pork you get at Sapporo (meh, but I still love Sapporo. Something about that corn…) The pork at Setagaya is up there and they definitely get points for attentiveness to the piggy.

The broth seemed a tad too salty that night but it’s ramen so it’s better if it leans on the saltier side than the bland side. Also, Pat said it was fine and Jeremy seemed to like his as well. Maybe my tongue was off that night.

This was also my first introduction to oyakodon. I’m not sure if Setagaya is a good place to go for this, or if there are other Japanese restaurants in New York City that specialize in this. What I do know is that this was really tasty. Basically it’s ground chicken that’s been stewed that’s placed on rice. On top of the chicken is an egg. The chicken is salty and mixes well with the rice, while the egg yolk acts as a creamy emulsifier. Texture is not what you’re going for here, but it’s still delicious. It reminds me of this Taiwanese ground pork dish called lu rou fan.

I also want to mention soft serve from Kyotofu from a few weeks back. Maybe someone can tell me about the wonders of soy ice cream but this was a first for me. Not sure if soy is supposed to impart a special taste or not. The most striking thing about this dessert was the consistency/texture. It seems to melt faster than normal ice cream but that could have been my brain playing tricks. When you try to spoon out some of it, you notice a certain elasticity that you do not normally associate with ice cream. Kyotofu’s soft serve seemed to have some of the DNA of marshmallows. It was fascinating and I couldn’t stop playing with it (which probably contributed to the melting factor). At any rate, this is a fun dessert and I recommend it.

And while we’re at it, I saw this story on Freakonomics the other day. Basically there are researchers who are studying the way we make food choices and how we respond to external factors when we make our food choices. For example, they said, “Put the same coffee in four mugs of different colors and ask people which is stronger. Men likely will point to the brown mug. Women are less likely to be fooled.”

I think it raises interesting questions about how things affect our taste buds. I love studies like these because they raise interesting questions. But when I talk about these things to my college educated and highly individualistic friends, basically none are willing to admit that they could be a statistic. Everyone wants to believe they have full awareness over the choices they make and how they perceive food. So obviously those scientists must be nutty 😉

“For months, he said, customers bought milk from a vending machine. One day, the label was changed to indicate the milk was organic — prompting some people to comment that it tasted funny.” See, this means that some people raised an issue after they saw the label. Is eating all about the taste buds? I asked this question on Serious Eats: Talk and of course everyone can taste the difference between things! How foolish, those scientists!

The tagline of Food in Mouth is, “It all tastes good to me.” This is true for me because I have no taste buds and struggle to differentiate between Ovaltine, Milo, and Horlicks. But I also like just about anything you put in front of me. Life is just better when you can immerse yourself in a meal surrounded by friends. And life is better if you eat more ramen.

Ramen Setagaya141 First Ave.New York, NY 10003212-529-2740