By Caesandra N Seawell:
When temperatures in Buffalo are finally low enough to freeze your facial muscles, the best remedy is a steamy bowl of broth and noodles you have to slurp!
I spent my early twenties stationed in Misawa, Japan. One of my best memories from that time is going off-base to the nearby noodle shop. There was a fiberglass sculpture of a bowl of soup with some sort of dry ice making puffs of steam escaping the bowl at regular intervals; that was always a comforting sight. Together, with my friends and co-workers, we would sit at the counter and enjoy WATCHING Japanese men and women eat ramen as much we enjoyed eating it ourselves. I tried not to repeat any of the bowls! It was always an inexpensive, but filling experience.
Consequently, I’ve awaited the opening of NoNoo Ramen (see back story) with great anticipation because fresh ramen soup is such a guilt-free comfort food. You can’t feel bad about eating steamed vegetables, a little meat (or tofu), and tender noodles bathing in a lightly salted broth.
A ramen bowl isn’t like mac-n-cheese or a beef stew where everything mostly tastes the same under a blanket of cheese or gravy. Those deep ramen bowls are more like mini hot tubs filled with tasty friends conversing and relaxing. The bok choy stands out – the corn niblets, green onion and even the bean sprouts all have their own chance to shine and express themselves on your tongue, one at a time.
I chose the Chuka ramen bowl. It had roast pork, a little baby bokchoy, and a couple shrimp wontons. The broth was wonderful and the roasted pork was actually more flavorful than all of the pork cutlet options I remembered from my time in Japan. The seared, crispy edge of the pork added a surprising smokiness to the broth. To enhance the dish, I opted for a poached egg so I could pop it and coat my noodles with yolk gravy. I also tried the pickle platter; there were three types: a spicy cabbage/kimchi, a tangy cucumber, and a sweet daikon radish pickle. NoNoo served them in little airtight jars which seemed to keep their flavors and smells closer.
My friend, Michael Gainer, tried the Curry ramen with tofu and bean sprouts. His bowl was very steamy, but not spicy (you can ask for your bowl spicy, or you can add chili flakes); it was colorful and filling. It certainly did remind me of the curry houses in Japan.
All four of the ramen bowls are priced at $11.00.
There were other entrees and appetizers to choose from. This opening week, NoNoo’s hours are shorter, but for the first night, all the seats were filled and people were actually waiting in line for NoNoo to open.
Editor’s note: There is no liquor license as of yet, but while you’re waiting for a table you can take your pick of neighboring bars and restaurants to grab a drink. NoNoo plays downtempo beats and chef-owner Chris Van Every is willing to accommodate vegetarians by offering non-meat substitutions – try the delicately soft tofu with perfectly spiced kimchi and steamed bok choy dish.
NoNoo Ramen (in-between Europa and Pasteurized Tees)
Buffalo NY 14222