On a rainy, gloomy, New York day, there’s nothing a better then a warm bowl of soup. And even better then soup is Ramen, which seems to be taking the city by storm. My friend, Steve recommended Tabata Ramen, another hole in the wall shop located right next to the Port Authority. This is the ultimate dive spot, a place no one in their right mind would ever wander to without a purpose.
We met here on the gloomy day, finding the narrow restaurant to be packed during lunchtime. It seemed to attract individuals from all walks of life; college students with backpacks, men in suits, working class individuals. Steve and I sat at one of the high top tables lining the wall parallel to the kitchen and dining bar.
A few appetizers fill the first page of the menu, but Steve and I quickly turned to the middle for the entire purpose of our visit, the ramen. There are thirteen different varieties to choose from, making the decisions even more difficult. Steve had selected Tabata for their extra spicy varieties. Ultimately the Geki Kara Ramen, literally translated to mean Hellishly Spicy, was Steve’s Ramen of choice. I went for the signature dish, Tabata Ramen, which defies any traditional notions of ramen, adding coconut milk and cilantro.
The waiter brings over a little bowl of salad, dressed simply with a sesame dressing. It was nothing special, but a little bite before the food arrives. The pipping hot bowls of ramen arrive in the blink of eye and then the real fun begins.
All of the flavors from a variety of ethnic backgrounds shouldn’t make any sense. But it does, and avoids any extremes. The ramen is well-balanced with a salty, sweet and rich broth which inserts enormous amounts of flavor into the light, slightly curled noodles. The soybean power thickens the broth, making it significantly richer then the traditional version of ramen. The cilantro counter balances the heaviness of the coconut broth, adding bursts of bright, tangy flavor. Pieces of dark chicken meat are tender, but lacks the spiciness advertised. It might be attributed to the creaminess of the coconut broth. Regardless, the dish is well-rounded and bursting with unique flavor profiles.
Half way into the gigantic bowl, I admitted defeat. It’s definitely a heavier dish, but worth all of the decadence.
Steve’s bowl of Hellishly Spicy Ramen was much brighter then mine, with the red broth warning weaklings like myself to stay far, far away.
According to Steve, this could clear your sinus’ with ease. The radical spiciness of the dish was addictive, as Steve proceeded to finish the entire bowl of hellish ramen.
We both sat back with warm soup belly, content to our hearts desire. I had my little tupperware of soup to go, which would serve as a fabulous evening snack, to continue filling the need for soup on a chilly day. When the bill came at the end, we were absolutely happy with the low price for a great lunch. (Side Note: they only accept credit cards for bills above $15).
This is definitely the diver version of a Japanese Ramen bar. Unlike Totto Ramen in the area, service and decor are not their high point. You are coming here for a meal that’s simply about high quality broth and noodles. However, they definitely get major points in the cuteness factor for their adorable mascot on the back of all their clothing. I really felt tempting to buy a t-shirt and wear it around with pride.
For the adventurous eater, definitely check out Tabata Ramen. It’s slightly different then any traditional ramen place in the city and sure to provide a unique experience.
Tabata Ramen – 540 9th Avenue – New York, NY
Location: Hell’s Kitchen, NY
Perfect For: Cheap Eats, Impressing Foodies, Adventurous Eating
Reservations: Not Accepted
Favorite Dishes: Tabata Ramen