There are more ramen places than I can count in Manhattan, but for a taste of the good stuff, you often have to wait hours and hours for it (ahem, Totto and Ippudo). What’s a girl to do when she doesn’t want to make a whole day out of eating ramen? Explore other places!
|Green Curry Ramen at Bassanova + an egg on the side|
So how does a ramen place in Tokyo become known for their green curry flavored broth? According to Keizo Shimamoto aka the Creator/Chef of the Ramen Burger’s blog, a Thai chef who was working to revamp the menu at Bassanova decided to mix his Thai roots with the more traditional tonkotsu broth. It became a big hit and stuck through all the years.
Here’s some ramen gossip for you – Chef Keizo Shimamoto is actually a second generation Japanese-American who went back to Japan to learn all about ramen. He ended up working as a chef at Bassanova Japan and was coming back to the States to head up the Bassanova in Manhattan. However, according to his July 2013 blog post, “The next step…moving on…“, right before the opening of the US branch, he didn’t end up being the chef there for reasons unstated. He then focused his energy on another project and thus the infamous Ramen Burger was born.
When Bassanova first opened a few months ago, the only had three ramen dishes, but as of today (December 21, 2013), their menu has expanded to include 2 new ramen dishes along with other dry ramen dishes which doesn’t have broth.
But who wants to eat ramen without soup, not me!
|Current ramen menu – few appetizers, rice bowl, & dry ramen not shown here on menu but available!|
|Pork Buns – $6|
Since Pork Buns are essential to a lot of ramen places these days, we had to try them here too. The Bassanova version of them are surprisingly small. The bun isn’t the typical lotus leaf bun that’s popular with most pork buns, rather a quite delicious bun with hints of coconut that made J’s mouth water. It also includes tomatoes and spinach, which gave some brightness to the entire thing but I wouldn’t order it again.
|Todaku Wadashi Green Curry Ramen – Berkshire Pork Tonkotsu & Green Curry Soup w/ grilled porkloin chashu, mixed greens, shirmp, okra, red pepper – $15|
Although I was craving regular tonkotsu broth ramen, I decided to do the right thing and just try their famous green curry ramen and I’m really glad I did. When you first hear “green curry”, you think of a thick Thai curry which doesn’t seem right for ramen, but what you end up getting at Bassanova is a broth that has the smell of strong Thai aromatics but still well balanced in flavor.
I especially enjoyed the bits of fried ginger/onion that was served along with my soup. It says on the menu that it’s spicy, but I don’t think it’s any spicier than a healthy squirt of sriracha. I also ordered an egg on the side and was disappointed to find the yolk pretty much hard boiled and not a soft runny yolk. Not sure if this would improve…
The green curry ramen came with thick wavy ramen noodles which has a lot of bite and really helps offset the strong flavors in the broth. Strangely enough there were mixed greens from a salad in this dish, but it doesn’t detract from it. I kind of liked that it made the crazy flavorful broth less intense. And personally as an okra lover, I welcomed the grilled okra that came along with this dish. A memorable ramen dish that I would want to come back for.
|Todaku Wadashi Ramen – Berkshire Pork Tonkotsu & Wadashi Bouillon Soup w/ porkloin chashu, menma bamboo shoots, gyofun (bonito powder?), nori, fried ginger onion and scallion – $14|
J ended up ordering the Todaku Wadashi Ramen which is a mix of tonkotsu broth along with extra dashi broth which gives the overall taste of the broth a more seafoody flavor that you don’t often find at other ramen places. While it was distinct, J was more jealous of the green curry ramen that I ended up getting and says he won’t want to order Bassanova’s non-specialty ramen again.
The Todaku Wadashi Ramen comes with thin noodles, similar to what you’d find if you order the Akamaru Modern at Ippudo.
|Lemon & Black Pepper Todaku Ramen – Berkshire Pork Tonkotsu Soup w/ Lemon & Black Pepper, topped w/ porkloin chashu, kikurage mushroom, fried ginger onion, crushed sesame, nori, and scallion – $14|
Pauline ordered a Lemon & Black Pepper ramen which was surprisingly good. Although the broth is almost the same as J’s ramen, the lemon seemed to have lightened up the flavors of the broth and J favored this lighter version of the tonkotsu broth without the extra dashi that was in his soup.
I forgot to mention that each of these ramen dishes came with a pretty large piece of chashu which texture was very soft but still had a bite to it. J, a well-known meat lover was satisfied enough with his bowl. Originally he thought he would order the kaedama (extra noodles) as was I, but as we continued eating the bowl of ramen, we got surprisingly full and didn’t need the extra serving.
One of the comments that I’ve been reading about this place is that their portions are rather small, which is true, but I don’t think it’s by much. Also it’s been said that there is less broth here as well, but unless you work on finishing all your broth at any other ramen place, I think the richness of the broth here is enough to satisfy your appetite.
For me especially, although I love drinking the ramen broth, the unique flavors of my green curry broth made it so that I really couldn’t take more than a few sips of it.
We came in right when it opened at Noon on a Saturday and there were tons of seats available. The word around is that it’s not too hard to grab a seat at this ramen joint that’s hidden in the basement on a busy Chinatown street. While the price of the ramen is on par with what most New Yorkers are used to paying, it is a bit ironic that my other favorite noodle place, Bo Ky is just around the corner with $5 bowls of noodle soup.
I think if you’re a ramen lover, Bassanova is definitely worth a visit as the Green Curry Ramen really makes the place more distinct than other ramen places around. Also I have my eye on the Tom Yum Goong Ramen that I would love to try the next time I decide to come here.