MEW MEN, a new ramen restaurant in Manhattan’s West Village, opened September 21 on 7 Cornelia Street. The 39-seat restaurant, is an offshoot of the Hand Hospitality Group, known to have brought Izakaya Mew, Her Name is Han and Atoboy to New York City.
MEW MEN brings a new dining experience to New York City that celebrates the balance between music and ramen. According to the team at MEW MEN, the formula to perfect ramen is not just within the broth, seasoning and aromatic oil, but within the balance of the melody, harmony and rhythm of the music played while the ramen is cooked and eaten.
Upon entering the restaurant, MEW MEN’s dedication to music is instantly illusive. A music sheet stand holds the menu at the entrance; deconstructed music cases are repurposed as legs for the oak dining tables, and stage light fixtures adorn the ceiling. Most apparent is the open DJ sound system that lines the back wall. All details have been carefully designed by Hand Hospitality’s in-house designer. From the handcrafted tables to the curated art collection by photographer Masayuki Azuma, all design aspects flow together in harmony.
The restaurant itself is split between an open 11-seat chefs’ counter, and communal seating tables in a dining area. The chef’s counter allows guests to watch the chefs at work, as if they were preparing the ramen in sync with the music. Influences of Japan are also subtly apparent throughout the space, including the imported handcrafted pottery and dinnerware.
Culinary Director Hiroshi Hiraoka comes to MEW MEN with vast experience in Japanese cuisine, having worked at IPPUDO in Japan for 12 years, and opened his own ramen shop in Sapporo City called Q-Ramen. Unlike the traditional Tonkotsku (pork bone broth) ramen style that Hiraoka had mastered in Japan, Miraoka’s take on MEW MEN features a chicken broth, made from fresh, locally sourced chickens, in-house every day.
Within the five different types of ramen offered, MEW MEN only cooks with ingredients that are fresh, all-natural, and without any chemicals or MSG. Although the ramen dishes appear simple in their style, the technique and ingredients are what give the perfect harmony in flavor. A meticulous method in cooking ensures that the chashu is perfectly tender, and is rounded out by an assortment of locally sourced and traditional Japanese ingredients so that each bite delivers layers of flavor.
The menu consists of an assortment of small shareable dishes and five ramen soups. The Shoyu Chintan is MEW MEN’s signature ramen and is most notable as its variation on chicken soup. It’s distinct soy sauce flavor is topped with pork chashu, chicken chashu, scallion and marinated snow pea.
The broth of the Shio Paitan is saltier, thicker and most surprisingly, creamier, from smashed bone marrow. The soup is available in a chicken or seafood broth, and is topped with pork chashu, chicken chashu, fresh onion and onion flakes.
The Kara Shoyu is the spiciest ramen of the assortment. It is essentially the same soup as the Shoyu Chintan, but is topped with a sautéed minced pork with a homemade Ra-yu. Fresh jalapeño is ground and cooked with the pork to add consistent spice and is served with ground habanero peppers on the side to increase the heat.
The Maze Men focuses on the noodle, versus the broth. The noodle is tossed in a truffle oil sauce that gives a rich, umami flavor. Guests are encouraged to mix the noodle well before eating.
The Vege Tartan is made with three types of miso: red, white and kome. Sesame paste and chopped peanuts provide a nutty base to the broth and is topped with seasonal vegetables, chopped scallions round out the dish with various textures.
The array of small dishes include traditional Japanese snacks, like Kara Age, MEW MEN’s take on a fried chicken, which is marinated for over 24 hours, deep fried in smashed cornflakes, and served with a homemade onion sauce. Iburigakoo Cheese, a pickled and smoke radish imported from Akita, Japan, is served with cream cheese.
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