Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Bassanova Ramen: A Worthy Newcomer to the NYC Ramen Scene (food)

With well over a dozen different regional variations and styles and over 20,000 ramen shops in Japan, Bassanova Ramen in Tokyo managed to stand out with a green curry ramen that was the result of a collaboration with a Thai chef. That green curry ramen is now available in NYC at its namesake ramen shop that opened in Chinatown about a month ago.

FOOD:

Like most comfort foods, people's tastes regarding ramen are very subjective and personal. So before discussing the food at the newly opened Bassanova Ramen in Chinatown, let's go over my own personal ramen preferences:
I do not like Ippudo. I absolutely hate the style of noodles they use, and while I find the tonkotsu broth to be very good, I don't find it particularly special. My favorite ramen in NYC is the chicken paitan ramen at Totto Ramen. I find the concentrated chicken-based broth to be amazing, especially when it gets all gritty at the bottom of the bowl. I order it with the wavy noodles that they usually serve with their miso ramen. Also, although I haven't been back in a long time, I like the shio ramen lunch special at Tsushima in midtown east, where a whole scallop adds great umami to the excellent shio broth and springy noodles.

There are only three core items on the Bassnova NYC menu, along with two special broth-less noodle dishes. My friends and I tried all three of the core ramen bowls.

TONDAKU RAMEN $13 - TONKOTSU STYLE BROTH
Their basic pork broth served with thin straight ramen noodles, a slice of pork chashu, and accompaniments.

TONDAKU WADASHI RAMEN $14 - MIXED TONKOTSU STYLE AND SEAFOOD BROTH
Also served with thin straight noodles, a slice of pork chashu, but slightly different accompaniments. The added seafood flavoring did increase the umami profile and added to the depth of the ramen. My friend LY strongly preferred the broth in this to the broth at Ippudo. I am a huge fan of menma so that was nice, and I liked how while the broth was rich, it didn't leave a slick of grease on my lips.

TONDAKU GREEN CURRY RAMEN $15 - GREEN CURRY BROTH
The signature green curry soup came with a slice of pork chashu, one headless cooked shrimp (not tiny, but not big), zucchini, okra, fried garlic, herbs and greens. But most importantly it came with thick, wavy, springy noodles which I love. The broth was flavorful and complex without being overpowering, and had the right balance of savory and sweet. In this bowl, however, there was definitely a layer of oil on top of the curry, which worked really well with the much thicker noodles. Delicious and comforting.

EXTRAS:
Kaedama, or extra noodles, was a sizeable mound for $2. However, both my friend and I felt that the two tondaku ramens did not have enough broth to support the extra noodles. The green curry ramen, with its bigger bowl, managed just fine. Extra pork chashu also came at $2 a slice, but was bigger than the ones I've had at other ramen shops. It was tasty, but even more importantly for me, it was actually meaty as opposed to ones that I've had at other places that I found to be too fatty.

ATMOSPHERE:
The decor is interesting. Bowls, spoons, and chopsticks are all huge while the staff all wear shirts with horizontal stripes. The white/gray coloring scheme seemed out of place in the middle of busy Chinatown, as were the prices, which would be fine for most everywhere else in NYC.

Overall, the green curry ramen was the standout for me, and its uniqueness and deliciousness make it worth a trip to Chinatown. Although it won't replace the chicken paitan ramen at Totto as my favorite, the lack of a long wait is nice.

76 Mott St
(between Canal St & Bayard St)
Manhattan, NY 10013

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