This Midtown East ramen bar is hidden up a narrow stairwell that leads to a surprisingly open and well lit area. The restaurant is much more open then other traditional ramen bars, which are usually marked by long, narrow, dark seating. Instead, Hide-Chan Ramen has comfortable tables, which are semi-enclosed by wooden screens, creating little rooms for each table full of patrons.
We sat down around 5 o’clock on a weekday afternoon and were pleasantly excited to discover a happy hour special at Hide-Chan, offering $2 Sapporo and 1/2 of all drinks and appetizers.
I started off with a glass of sake, which is served in the traditional way. I know a place has a sense of authenticity when a glass is placed inside a wooden box. The waiter pours sake from a gigantic bottle until the liquid overflows into the box.
The sake was clean and crisp, while slightly fruity and sweet.
Next, we moved to the appetizer portion of the meal. We decided to order the Octopus Okonomyaki Balls, Pork Buns and Spicy Tuna Buns.
These little balls of goodness were one of the best things I have enjoyed in a while. It was a borderline genius interpretation of the traditional Japanese Okonomyaki Pancake, which is usually filled with a variety of seafood. Instead, this bite-sized round version was filled with cooked octopus, giving off a lightly fishy and crunchy texture. These are awesome and should not be missed.
Next, we turned to the Spicy Tuna Bun.
This turned out to be regular tuna fish from a can, drizzled with spicy mayo. The steam bun was delicious, but the filling was absolutely bizarre. Pass on this.
The Pork Bun gave off a similar feeling.
The skimpy piece of pork was mainly fatty and lacked that crunchy, sweet flavor you find in Pork Buns at places like Ippudo. Once again, I would pass on this dish.
Finally, we turned to the entire point of our trip to Hide-Chan, the Ramen. I ordered a garlic based version called, Hakata Kuro Ramen. There’s a long list of mix-ins you can add to your bowl of ramen to customize it to your exact liking. I added a poached egg to the soup, which I hoped would create an added richness to the broth.
The usual color of black-garlic oil seems a bit jarring at first. Once you dig in, the black oil swirls with the lighter broth hidden underneath. The straight noodles are a bit different then the traditionally curly ramen. The noodles are al-dente, but don’t fully soak up all of the flavor from the broth as I would have hoped. The rich, flavorful broth made up for the seemingly bland noodles. The pork was tender adding another dimension of flavor to the steaming bowl of ramen. It’s a bit salty, so the smooth glass of sake acts as the ideal sweet pairing to the dish.
It’s unlike any other bowl of ramen I have enjoyed, in coloring and in flavor. They certainly go for the unconventional here.
My Mom ordered the more house version.
Leigh opted to go the Vegetarian route, which is unusual for many Ramen shops. It’s a great option for those vegetarians that often feel like they need to bail due to pork based broths. The vegetarian soup broth allows for Hide Chan to appeal to a wide demographic.
As I’ve come to learn with many Ramen shops, they are not “take-out” friendly. Similar to Totto Ramen, you should come prepared with a tupperware to bring leftovers home. I actually made the clever move of running to Duane Reade down the block, purchasing large containers to bring our soup home.
Hide-Chan serves really good bowls of ramen. It’s a little less known then many other trendy ramen bars in the city, making the wait time drastically cut down. In addition, tables and closed off rooms makes the atmosphere a bit more comfortable. The prices are right and some dishes are total winners, but others completely miss the mark. I wouldn’t necessary run here, unless it’s happy hour, but if you’re in the neighborhood and looking for a steaming hot, flavorful bowl of ramen, Hide Chan will fill your needs.
Hide-Chan Ramen – 248 Second Avenue – New York, NY
Location: Midtown East, NY
Perfect For: Authentic Dining, Cheap Eats, Adventurous Eating
Reservations: Not Accepted
Favorite Dishes: Okonomyaki Balls, Hakata Kuro Ramen
Notes: Bring your own tupperware!!