Our quest for a good bowl of ramen continues. The last time I posted, we had just visited Ramen Setagaya, where we actually go to quite often. We’ve found another place, Ippudo, (which is absolutely amazing), but that post will be saved for later in the week. To get to the Minca story, I have to write about my new obsession with riding the bus. I started riding the bus because of the L outages during the weekends. Slowly, the M14 has become my best friend – it goes with me to the grocery store, to Chris’ house, to the gym, and surprisingly, to a lot of cool restaurants in the east village. On Saturday, we hopped on the M14 bus by Chris’ house and headed to Minca. The bus dropped us off practically in front of the restaurant (it was a 45 minute ride – sheeks!), and we headed in to order some gyoza and ramen. We started off with the pork gyoza:
The pork gyoza at Minca was actually better than the gyoza I’ve had at Ramen Setagaya, but I still don’t like the thin skin from gyoza’s and prefer Chinese dumplings.
There are a lot of options for ramen, but I decided on the Minca Ramen:
The ramen comes with a tea egg, which is a hard-boiled egg that’s cooked with soy sauce and other spices (quite easy to make and they’re very good since they already have a lot of flavor). The broth was very hearty and much thicker than other broth’s I’ve tasted in the city. Also, the pork Minca served had the most meat and least amount of fat; the pork was very flavorful and not overly salty. I really enjoyed the noodles as well:
The noodles are handmade and are flash cooked and perfectly chewy.
Chris ordered a different type of ramen with chicken instead of pork:
His broth wasn’t as hearty or tasty, but his chicken was very flavorful. Chris didn’t like the broth, but enjoyed the chicken and noodles.
So, it seems like we had a good experience at Minca, but about halfway through the meal, Chris mentioned that the broths were both very salty. At first I told him that he was trying to ruin my perfect ramen experience, but then I realized that I was drinking a lot more water than usual. By the end of the meal, I was completely dehydrated and needed several refills of my water before I was able to walk out of the restaurant. The broth I had was really good (better than Ramen Setagaya’s, I think), but it was just too salty and I probably shouldn’t have had all of it.
Tip: If you’re ever in the mood to eat by yourself, head to Minca – they have a bar area that’s perfect for one!
I babysat Faire last week and made this super cute video of her blowing raspberries (in case you don’t remember who she is, Faire’s the youngest fan of gracenotesnyc and the youngest FRO-YOLYMPICS participant)
On Tuesday, I went to dinner with a friend from LA and we were discussing the possibility of another FRO-YOLYMPICS. Since he’s from LA, he’s been a big fan of the plain frozen yogurt craze for quite some time (although he says no one in LA cares anymore). Anyway, I’m going to plan another Fro-Yolympics (there’s been a lot of interest, especially since the weather is getting nicer). If you’re interested in participating, either send me an email at email@example.com or leave a message in the comments!
Pinkberry is opening ANOTHER store and they’re offering FREE SHIRTS to the first 200 people – I WISH I WAS GETTING A FREE PINKBERRY SHIRT:
Maybe we’ll make fro-yo shirts for the next tour!!
Over the weekend, I was headed to Union Square from the west village on the bus and saw that Le Petit Belge had finally opened. Chris and I immediately got off the bus (it wasn’t moving that fast anyway) and we hopped over to Le Petit Belge to try their waffles. The store had just opened on Friday and seemed really busy (they had brownie samples! But my brownie sample had a gray hair in it!). Le Petit Belge:
Le Petit Belge serves a couple of items – BerryWild frozen yogurt, handmade chocolates and marizpan, and freshly made waffles:
You can get the waffles with any of the toppings that you can put on your frozen yogurt, so Chris and I decided to go with whipped cream, raspberries, and strawberries (it adds up pretty quickly because each topping is 75 cents). I asked if the strawberries were fresh or if they were in syrup and the guy told me that everything is fresh (even their dough) because they’re European and that’s how they do things in Europe. The guys in the back were preparing waffles before people were ordering, so I was worried that the waffle was going to be cold when we got it:
The dough looked very sticky and gooey, but not like a waffle mix that you spoon into the waffle press – the guy working the waffle press was holding the dough in his hands and putting it into the press. They assembled our raspberry, strawberry, whipped cream waffle after it cooled down for a bit:
We were walking as quickly as possible so we could find a seat or a table (we eventually settled on the Bank of America ATM on 14th) but we immediately dove into our delicious waffle. The dough has a great texture and it slightly chewy (not because it’s undercooked). Chris agreed that it was a lot better than Wafels and Dinges.
Tip: They’re definitely still working out kinks (it took forever for the cashier to take orders because of distractions) so be patient – the waffles are worth the wait!
To prepare for our Thomas Keller experience at The French Laundry (in a MONTH!), Chris and I went to Keller’s affordable bistro in Manhattan: Bouchon. Located in the Time Warner Center just below Per Se, Bouchon is a small cafe/restaurant that serves bistro goodies. The wait on a Saturday afternoon was about 20 minutes; not bad at all since there are so many stores to distract you while you’re waiting. We were promptly seated and given a bread basket while we contemplated what we wanted to order (we had a general idea of what we wanted, but had to narrow down the choices!).
Our bread basket with butter:
Each piece of bread was connected to the next so you could just break off a perfect-sized piece for yourself. The bread was extremely good, but would’ve been great if it had been hot (it’s asking a lot, I know). Also, the butter was really creamy and was the perfect spreading temperature (I love it when you can stick your knife in the butter and get exactly the amount you want without it being too hard or soft).
Chris and I decided to order a grilled cheese and tomato soup as well as a wagyu beef brisket sandwich (and dessert, of course). I started with the grilled cheese and tomato soup:
Grilled cheesy goodness:
The grilled cheese had two types of cheese (fontina and gruyere) sandwiched between two slices of brioche. The tomato soup tasted like fresh tomato puree and was very simple yet delicious. I read a couple of reviews before going to Bouchon and people usually complained that the food wasn’t hot (the kitchen is pretty small and it’s close to the bakery on the side of the restaurant), but my tomato soup was extremely hot – so hot that I burned my tongue!
Chris ordered the Wagyu Beef Brisket sandwich with side salad:
Initially, we wanted to order the lobster macaroni and cheese (since we both LOVE macaroni and cheese), but they only make a certain amount everyday and they were out by the time we got there. The wagyu beef brisket sandwich was okay, but not something I’d order again. The meat was a little dry, in my opinion. The side salad was overdressed and the dressing actually tasted a little bit like olive juice.
I was really interested in trying their desserts (there are so many to choose from!) and Chris and I decided to go with the Nutter Butter with vanilla ice cream:
Thomas Keller’s take on the nutter butter was soft, chewy, and and the filling inside was a lot better than what Nutter Butter offers. The cookie isn’t that sweet (even though it’s a ton of sugar and butter – I know because I recreated the recipe over the weekend), but the vanilla ice cream balanced the cookie out. It was amazing!
After our lunch at Bouchon, we walked over to the bakery to see what we could for take out:
They have TKO’s (Thomas Keller Oreos), sticky buns, and lots of macaroons. I didn’t order anything, but I’ll be back in a couple weeks for their macaroni and cheese!
What to order: Tartine Of Tuna Nicoise On Pain De Campagna, Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese, Vegetable Jardiniere On Toasted Multigrain, and the Nutter butter cookie for dessert.