Going into my senior year, I’ve purchased—and consumed—my fair share of ramen noodles. You know what? I shouldn’t lie to myself. I’ve eaten an absurd amount of ramen noodles. Convenience and low price have trumped a well-rounded, healthy meal for the better part of my three years at the University, and while I know that cooking my ramen in a microwave (because that’s all I’ve had to work with) makes the thought of a ¢19 dinner even less desirable, I feel like I’ve paid my college student dues in doing so.
But, on the verge of eating so much ramen in such a short period of time that I’d elect to never even look at it again, I discovered something. Little restaurants have been popping up (near the University!) that have become extremely creative with their use of ramen noodles.
I wanted to know more. I’ve known that there are tons of restaurants who specialize in ramen, and can make a seriously delicious bowl of soup, but I’m talking real out-of-the-box fare.
The Ramen Burger was conceptualized and born in 2013 by Keizo Shimamoto, who debuted his product as a vendor at Brooklyn Flea’s Smorgasburg. Smorgasburg is essentially a food court for Williamsburg’s massive aforementioned flea market. In the spirit of the flea market, Smorgasburg hosts a wide array of independent chefs, restaurants and products, and gives them a stage for their creations. The Ramen Burger has a humble stand with handwritten signs advertising the “classic” ramen burger, a shoyu-glazed beef chuck patty stuffed between two ramen noodle buns, or a more traditional cheeseburger-style ramen burger.
After a flood of positive reviews, promotion, and general interest, Keizo, the mastermind behind the Ramen Burger, decided to open his first brick-and-mortar Ramen/Ramen Burger house. RAMEN by Keizo Shimamoto has been open since about April. It’s located at 100 Maiden Lane between Pearl and Gold Streets.
An even more unlikely and recent creation in the ramen world is the Ramenritto. Yes, that’s a mix of ramen noodles and a burrito. The ramen noodles are a substitute for the rice in a traditional burrito, and it features some other non-traditional burrito ingredient options such as pulled pork and pickled onions. This particular creation doesn’t have a celebrity chef name attached to it, but it’s being served at Presstea, which you can find on the corner of Perry Street and 7th Avenue in the West Village.
So, just when my incredible tolerance for the ramen noodle began to finally wane, the Ramen Burger and Ramenritto came along to swiftly rekindle the love side of my love-hate relationship with ramen. If anything, these new ramen creations are interesting, and breathe some life into the boring microwaved noodle soup you’ve been eating since freshman year.