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There isn’t much we love more than a warm bowl of ramen. We all know the East Village is where it’s at, but Midtown has slowly become another part of town where us noodle junkies can get a proper fix. There’s Totto on the west side, Hide-Chan to the East and Crave Fishbar, while not a traditional ramen house, serving up an incredible bowl of handmade noodles with chili glazed hake. Plus, Ippudo is coming in the not so distant future. Thankfully, us Midtown lunchers are no longer stuck with average bowls from Sapporo and Menchanko-Tei to quench that craving anymore.
Tabata is another option to get on the Midtown ramen radar, especially if you either work in Times Square or commute to Jersey via Port Authority every day (sorry about that). It’s nothing fancy, a small ramen house that sits on the corner of a bus exhaust pipe and hell. 40th and 9th is a block you should never actually be walking on unless of course you’re headed directly to Tabata. Despite being relatively new, this isn’t one of these shiny modern ramen joints. Tabata is nothing fancy, just a straight up soup shop without any bells and whistles. They clearly spent no extra money to spruce the place up, however, they did splurge on some sweet cartoon caricature shirts. We kind of wanted to buy one.
After getting a positive write-up from the NY Times and endless love from the Village Voice, we figured it was time to take a couple trips here to test it out. We’re glad we did. While the restaurants we mentioned above are head and shoulders above Tabata, this is still very solid soup. They’re known for their signature Tabata Ramen, a coconut flavored noodle soup that’s both unique and exotic. They also do a mean spicy sesame flavored Tan Tan Men soup. We have a feeling we’ll be hitting this hard all winter.
Photo Credit: NY Mag/Matt Dutile
Standard seared pork dumplings, they come out piping hot and are all kinds of juicy. We enjoyed.
Deep fried tofu sitting in a really tasty dashi sauce. We loved this, easily the best appetizer we tried and one of their signature dishes. Order it.
Spicy Chicken Wings
There are photo ads for specials taped all over the walls which had us doing a lot of last minute pointing and ordering. Who can resist an order of spicy fried chicken wings for $4? Not us. We were a bit bummed out by the wings though. You can’t really go wrong for the price, but they weren’t anything special. They were actually too meaty, a bit slimy and didn’t have enough sauce on them. Oh well. We tried.
This is their signature ramen, and one that Village Voice ranked as the #3 in NYC. While we slopped up this whole bowl and thoroughly enjoyed it, our it didn’t look anything like highly stylized bowl we saw in the picture. It’s a coconut flavored soup, which is definitely both different and delicious. It’s made with soybean powder and has cilantro, raw red onions and weird all dark meat chicken nubs. Definitely worth trying once, but we’re not sure we’d order it the next time we go.
Tan Tan Men
Another one of their signature ramens. As difficult as it is, you’ve gotta let this sit for a couples minutes in front of you and let the sesame flavored noodle soup marinate with the spicy ground pork. At first, we weren’t that impressed. But as we got deeper into this bowl, each bite got better and better. One thing about the ramen here, the broth is extremely thin. The flavors is there, you just need to get to the bottom of the bowl for the best parts and you might need a refill on noodles to get you there.
This spicy miso and soy sauce based bowl is one I’d order again. Pork, leeks, scallions, garlic paste, egg. Again, extra noodles are necessary. There’s a lot of broth and the noodles are relatively thin and not overly filling.