Around the corner from NYC indie filmhouse IFC Center sits a new, small ramen joint Mew Men. It’s a little sister to the wildly popular Midtown basement pub Izakaya Mew, but here the menu is minimalist. There’s not much beyond the five ramen options, aside from a few appetizers like kara age (Japanese fried chicken). The sake list, for example, consists just of “hot,” “cold” and “ginjyo.” But the noodles speak for themselves, each one with its own distinct personality. They all share a chicken broth base (made daily from free-range chicken raised in upstate New York, so there’s no ramen served at lunch as it’s still brewing), as opposed to traditional pork broth. It’s worth noting that four of those five menu items do still incorporate pork toppings.
As the weather only gets chillier, it’s Mew Men’s signature ramen you should try when chicken soup cravings kick in: their variation, the sohoyu chintan, has earthier tastes of soy sauce and duck oil. For extra nourishment, the thick and creamy Shio Paitan is explosive, thanks to smashed bone marrow. Even the hungriest will have a tough time finishing the bowl; the host tells us that the dish is so hearty that he can only eat it every three months.
The cozy decor fits in well with the quaint charm of the West Village neighborhood. A musical theme connects the space: gigantic stage lights illuminate wooden tables that sit atop repurposed road cases, used to transport instruments. And a (sadly non-functional) sound-system and patch bays rest in the back.
Peruse the Mew Men menu online; no reservations are accepted but there was no line when we dropped by last Wednesday at 8:30PM. Located at 7 Cornelia Street.
Images courtesy of Mew Men