Ramen isn’t a new thing for Shigetoshi Nakamura. In fact, he’s been considered a noodle king for more than 15 years because of his popular Nakamura-Ya in Japan. Since coming stateside, he’s put together balanced bowls of perfection at Ramen Lab, and now, he’s helming his very own eponymous spot on the Lower East Side.
Nakamura (172 Delancey St., 212-614-1810, nakamuranyc.com) is a cozy little spot — and I mean little. At just 360 square feet, it can seat just about 20 with a couple of tables and four bar stools. But the wait isn’t bad here because the kitchen is fast, and the lack of a liquor license (for now) means no one is really lingering too long.
If you’re lucky, you’ll sit at the table right next to the kitchen — under the blaze of the bright, Edison bulb NAKAMURA sign — to watch the man at work. On his menu, you’ll find just four bowls of ramen. There’s a torigara shoyu ($14) with a flavorful fish and pork broth, along with a vegetarian version ($16) using David Chang’s deep (and vegan!) XO sauce. If you’re craving a little spice, try the curry ramen ($16), or for something a little lighter, the bright yuzu dashi ($16). Whichever you get, be sure to add the ajitama (two egg halves with a silky yolk that’ll melt right into the broth) for an extra $2.
What I love about this ramen is that it’s light — eating a bowl won’t make you feel like you’re carrying a fish tank in your stomach. In fact, if you still have room, you should try the pork and chive gyoza ($7), which are served on a hot, sizzling plate — sort of like when you get fajitas at Chili’s but infinitely better.
As you sit and slurp, be sure to take a look around — you’ll see some cool, dusty encyclopedias (remember when those were a thing?) and even a glass-encased bowl of toy ramen. It’s a wonderful feeling to enjoy such comforting food in a place that sort of feels like your living room.
Ariel Kanter is an editor at Gilt City.