On April 22nd, 2017, I got the chance to take part in the Street Ramen Contest. It happened to be a part of the Japan Fes. The contest continued in Queens the next day. I assumed the winner would be announced a few days later. I am actually still waiting to hear who won so I can let you guys know. But I digress. It took place in Chelsea..probably one of my most frequent hangout areas on 6th avenue between 24th and 25th Streets. The cool thing was that they had entertainment. A singer named TiA was there and MC Kohei. TiA is a female Japanese Pop singer from Saitama who is known for her songs featured in an anime show called Noragami and the closing theme song entitled “Ryuusei” for Naruto. The chemistry between the MC Kohei and TiA was explosive and organic. I really did enjoy their performance. Although I don’t have the video posted here, you can catch it on my Facebook Fan Page where I recorded a good portion of the event.
There was no way to really miss it since it spanned a whole block.. From what it looked like, it seemed like there was a lot more going on at 6th avenue that day because it was closed from 21st street all the way down to 33rd street. The Street Ramen contest only took up one block. It was probably the most crowded block that day. The weather was not as cooperative as one would have hoped for an event such as this.
Rain or shine, eager patrons dying to try ramen waited on several different lines. One line to purchase their tickets. Others to try ramen. I was surprised because usually when you hear about festivals, it is crowded but never that crowded. I mean lines wrapped around…Some actually blended in with other lines. It was one of the issues I and several other patrons felt needed to be worked on for next year. Their set up was nice and fun. But, to be stuck on lines just to try ramen for more than 15 mins in pouring rain, takes away from the experience.
On to the actual ramen. This wasn’t the ramen that some of us grew up with because it was a quick and easy lunch…or the ramen of choice for college students. This was big league ramen. I’m talking about heavily constructed ramen…from the broth to the noodles and all of their expertly selected ingredients. A few came from NY, NJ, PA, and Japan which made for an interesting competition. So there were several Ramen Shops competing for the title…#1 best ramen. The list I found on the Facebook page of the event consisted of the following:
Mendokoro Wakamusha (Fukushima, Japan) – Fukushima Chicken Paitan Noodle
-I really wanted to try their ramen but the line was way too long and the weather didn’t help at all.
Menya Masamune (Miyagi, Japan) – The Epitome of Shio Ramen
-Another long line of supporters with no chance of me trying it.
Kacho Hu Getsu (Yamagata, Japan) – Shrimp Wonton Ramen
-This one I tried out and loved it. It wasn’t my favorite but I did enjoy their ramen. The broth was flavorful but I felt like it lacked depth in the way the flavors melded together. I was surprised by the Shrimp Wonton because I expected something microscopic and it was actually a decent sized shrimp in there.
Yume Wo Katare (Boston, USA) – Cattsuni Maze Soba (Corn Ramen)
-They also had one of the biggest crowds. Their crew was so animated and lively that I was drawn in to see what they had. It can also be found in my video posted on Facebook.
Snappy Ramen (Boston, USA) – Veggie Tomato Ramen
-Their ramen caught my attention but I didn’t try them. Their noodles were made with kale and their broth was a tomato broth.
Batten Ramen (New Jersey, USA) – Spicy Miso Ramen
-I noticed their booth and could smell the spicyness as I walked by.
Shuya Cafe de Ramen (New York, USA) – Bluefin Tuna Paitan Ramen
– I kid you guys not, this was probably one of the longest lines I saw there. I couldn’t even really get close to see their product.
Uminoie (New York, USA) – Agodashi Shoyu Ramen
-They were the first place I tried . I did like everything in the ramen itself. The pork was a little fatty for my taste but still tasty. Much like the shrimp wonton, I did feel like it lacked a certain depth in their flavor for their broth. I found it a little salty but because the people were so inviting and sweet with me, I had to give them a chance. They even posed for some of the photos I took of them.
Mentoku (New York, USA) – Corn Ramen with Whipped Cream
-I really wanted to try this one but because I am lactose intolerant, I couldn’t. It was a corn ramen that many patrons were raving over and it was topped with fresh whipped cream.
Mew Men (New York, USA) – Shoyu Chintan Ramen
-Another popular one I didnt get to try because by that point I was down to my last ticket and I wanted to make it count. I did see a line for it as the day progressed.
Kishuya Ramen Noodle Bar (New York, USA) – Shoyu Tonkotsu Ramen
-Pardon for those reading this while I become a fan girl…THIS PLACE SERVED UP MY FAVE OUT OF ALL THE THREE PLACES I ACTUALLY GOT TO TRY. Why? I mean it was so simple too. It consisted of ramen(obvs), scallions, shitake mushrooms, pork belly, an egg(for me, that makes the best kind of ramen), and a veggie I have to find out what it was because I have no idea but it was white with a pink swirl. Starting with their presentation, I was captivated. Any place that puts that much effort into presentation is great in my book because it is a direct reflection of the company. Moving on the flavors and everything together. It hit my tongue and that broth…oh my god that broth…I feel like it warmed my soul. I know kind of dramatic but wow. The other two were lacking a depth that this one slayed. It had an earthy, warm, pork flavor to it without being salty or bland. It wasn’t watery either it just hit the spot. Considering how much rain came down, this one warmed me up best. The egg…it was soft boiled just the way I like….where the yolk isn’t fully cooked but just turned into a gel…For me, hands down, this place won.
Menka Hinate (New York, USA) – Nikumiso Ramen
-This place had one of the biggest lines there and their booth looked busy..
Overall, my experience with the Street Ramen Contest was new and refreshing. I noticed in the reviews that people besides myself left were all similar. The pricing wasn’t very fair because it was $10 a ticket for a medium sized styrofoam cup full of ramen. Most shops you go to give you a huge bowl that is a filling meal for the same price. My biggest gripe was the flow of getting people their ramen and the lines that formed. I do hope that if they do the event next year, that is something they work on because waiting 20-30 mins outside in pouring ramen is kind of ridiculous and ruins the experience. Would I go again? Yes. Would I recommend to others? Yes but to just bear in mind that it will be similar to conventions and festivals where there should be the expectation to wait on a long line.
Bites: I give it 4 out of 5 bites and that is only because there is a lot of room for improvement.
Tasha C, CPC
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