It had been a while since we visited Bassanova Ramen and after several failed attempts at scheduling a visit with the crew we finally made it back for stop #9 on The Great New York Ramen Tour.
Our Rating out of 5:
So, we were a little surprised by our ratings since Bassanova is highly regarded and we've been several times in the past and always had an enjoyable experience. Not to say we didn't have an enjoyable experience this time, but when comparing the ramen to other ramen we have reviewed it didn't stand up to our expectations. Let's jump into the details.
Lemon & Black Pepper Tondaku Ramen
Having always gotten the Green Curry Ramen, I decided to order the Lemon and Black Pepper Tondaku because I love both Lemon and Black Pepper! It's a variation of Bassanova's signature Tondaku ramen. It has a tonkotsu broth, thin noodles, chashu pork, kikurage, crushed sesame, nori, scallion, and fried ginger onion.
My Initial opinion of the broth was that it was fine. The tonkotsu was pretty typical it didn't stand out but it was enjoyable. At first I couldn't taste any lemon which seemed ludicrous since the bowl came with 8 slices of lemon on top! As I started eating I slowly began tasting the lemon as it steeped in the broth, which created a really good flavor combination. However, the longer it steeped the stronger the lemon flavor got and by the time I was near the bottom of the bowl it was pretty overpowering. This made for a very unbalanced dish and it would have been better if the lemon juice was mixed into the broth so that the right amount of lemon was throughout the entire bowl. Also, there were quite a few lemon seeds in the bowl that I had to eat around since they did not de-seed the lemon slices. Another issue I had with the broth is that I didn't taste any black pepper. There was some on top of the lemon, but not nearly enough to make an impact on the entire bowl. The last issue I had with the broth was that there wasn't enough of it to go with the amount of noodles in the bowl.
The thin noodles were cooked well, tasted good, and held the broth nicely. I would say they are above average. The chashu had a good fat to meat ratio, was juicy, but had a bland flavor. With a little more seasoning it would be great. I added a nitamago to my order, which was well cooked, the yolk was runny but cold. I've never experienced a cold yolk in my ramen before and I have now decided that I prefer them to be warm. The egg could also have used a bit more time in the marinade and didn't taste seasoned. The fried ginger onion wasn't what I expected, it was chopped into small pieces and became soggy very quickly. It didn't really add anything to the bowl. The rest of the toppings were pretty typical. I would have liked having more of them. The lemon slices took up so much space it felt like they didn't have room for a normal portion of the other toppings.
Tondaku Wadashi Green Curry Ramen
The Green Curry Ramen is a fusion of ramen and Thai curry, it's definitely not a typical ramen, and it's the reason we've been back to Bassanova so many times. We discovered this visit that it may be more of an acquired taste, since the majority of the crew didn't care for it. In fact, the opinions of the dish were the most polarized that we've had; this is most certainly because it's really less ramen and more curry soup. So, if you are expecting ramen, and or don't like curry soup don't order this one! Everything about this bowl is a departure from the traditional and expected; I wouldn't even call it ramen if it weren't for the noodles and pork.
It comes with thick noodles, chashu, shrimp, chili threads, okra, and mixed greens topping off the bowl. We also added an egg, because egg... The broth is essentially a curry sauce; they say it's a combination of tonkotsu and curry soup, but you really can't taste any tonkotsu. It's on the thicker side, it's spicy, and there is some ingredient that makes it a little grainy at times, which I'm not particularly fond of. The noodles pair really well since the broth really sticks to the larger surface area of the thick noodles. This noodle / broth combination is really the highlight of the dish and the first time we ate the broth with noodles it made an impression on us... The rest of the dish is kind of a mixed bag. It has the same chashu and egg as the Lemon Black Pepper. The shrimp goes well with the curry, but is otherwise not particularly interesting. The okra was fine but again really didn't add anything special, and lastly the mixed greens were a point of debate. There were cases for it being a good addition and cases for it being really weird to have a salad in a bowl of ramen. I think which side you fall on kinda depends on if you are viewing it as a bowl of curry or a bowl of ramen. The lettuce added another texture, but didn't really do anything to improve the taste.
Worth the Trip?
So you may be asking yourself, is it worth going to Bassanova? Our opinion is yes. Would I order the Lemon & Black Pepper Tondaku again? Not in it's current rendition! Would I order the Curry Ramen? Yes, but I have to be in the mood for it. I haven't experienced a bowl like it anywhere else. It's worth mentioning that we also had their Korean pancake which was good in an unusual fusiony way, and that they have several mazemen (soupless ramen) options (including some vegetarian) that we will definitely be trying out in the future! Bassanova also offers half portions of their ramens (smaller white bowl in main photo above) and are one of the few restaurants that pay their waitstaff a "livable" wage making tips optional.
76 Mott St, New York, NY 10013
grew up as a nomad, and currently calls New York home. When he's not slurping noodles he's editing stuff for TV. He's a quarter Japanese and has been using chopsticks since he can remember. His go to ramen order: Spicy shoyu with wavy noodles.