A few months ago I went to a ramen restaurant in Carroll Gardens (which shall remain nameless) where I tried the mushroom ramen. The broth managed to both look and taste murky; it was unpleasant, to say the least. So I approached my visit to Chuko, in Prospect Heights, with some reservations. But my friend Chitra recommended it, and I decided to trust her judgement.
My worries were unfounded. Their veggie ramen ($12) has a broth that’s rich in flavor and yet tastes remarkably clean, with a buttery texture. They make their veggie broth (I found out later) by steeping konbu, a type of seaweed, in water to make the base. Then they add miso and use a blender to emulsify the mix. This last step is what gives the broth its velvety texture.
In addition to the broth you get long, slightly chewy noodles to slurp, and a handful of seasonal vegetables. On the day of our visit those veggies were snow peas and halves of raw cherry tomatoes. The tomatoes just barely get warmed through, and their sweet acidity was a nice counterpoint to the smooth and salty broth. You can also get a soft-cooked egg added, or to keep it vegan you can leave the egg out.
Growing up, ramen to me meant the instant noodles with the seasoning packet. Even as I became aware of what “real” ramen was, as a vegetarian I missed out on the big ramen movement here in NYC. Thanks to Chuko, I’m finally able to partake of these noodle bowls without the pork broth or the fish cakes.
Chuko – 552 Vanderbilt Ave