For stop #5 on the Great New York Ramen Tour, we checked out Mr. Taka for our ramen fix.
Here is our Rating Out of 5:
First off, Mr. Taka is the first place we have been to as a group that we all were essentially unanimous in our ratings. It is that good. As an establishment, Mr. Taka is totally underrated! It usually doesn't make those big top ten ramen restaurant blog posts, but let me just say, Mr. Taka quickly rose to be in my top 5 for sure! No question.
A little back story: Mr. Taka gets its name from both Chef Takatoshi Nagara and co-owner Takayuki Watanabe. Chef Takatoshi is the chef and creator of Bigiya, the Michelin ramen restaurant in Tokyo. Long story short, this place is destined for greatness. There are over 5000 ramen restaurants in Tokyo and Bigiya is within the top 22 ramen restaurants in Tokyo based on this Michelin guide.
Mr. Taka is a very small place on Allen St. in the Lower East Side. There are 5-6 tables in the restaurant (depending on the size of your group) and then a bunch of counter space up against the kitchen or the window. When we walked in we were offered seats at the counter by the kitchen, which was great. We were watching the chefs make the ramen and use a blow torch to cook the pork.
I cannot speak more highly about this bowl of ramen. Everything about it was spot on. I asked for the spicy chili oil and paste on the side and only had the desire to add in a little for a little added spice because the broth was that spectacular. In addition, the chili paste and oil is homemade and with different kinds of chili to get a more eclectic kick. The broth itself was the perfect amount of slurpiness and thickness. It was not too salty and had the creamy color that all tonkotsu bowls should strive for. All of us drank our respective broths to the last drop. The thin noodles were very tasty and cooked to the exact firmness making them perfect for the ramen. The noodles by itself were nothing spectacular, but paired with the ramen they were exactly what was needed. I also really enjoyed them with the added crunch of bean sprouts, which isn't in most ramens. The soft boiled egg was well seasoned and I only wish we were given more than a 1/2 of an egg. Tonkotsu is nothing without its chashu and this chashu really delivered. There was a perfect meat to fat ratio and it was so succulent, it makes my mouth water thinking about it. The meat itself had an almost smokey yet sweet taste that gave it extra complexity. If you come here and your ramen does not include the chashu, I recommend you add it!
Tan Tan Ramen
Tan Tan ramen is a Japanese take on Chinese szechuan...with soup. Mr. Taka's version of Tan Tan Ramen is a chicken and bonito fish broth, sesame sauce, chili oil, ground pork, scallions, and bok choy. We also added the chashu pork because...chashu pork. The sesame flavor and ground white sesame (which are ground fresh) in the broth really elevated the dish and added extra depth and a touch of sweetness to the broth. The chili oil added a powerful kick - almost too powerful. If you are not into spicy ramen, perhaps ask for the chili oil on the side. The ground pork also had a sweet taste as well, coming from the white sesame seeds again, which paired well with the spiciness. Either way, it was fantastic. The main event for this dish was the noodles which are similar to Chinese Dan Dan noodles (hence the name). These noodles were really exceptional. They were flour wavy noodles that had a unique taste and texture with the ramen and was a real highlight to the dish. We loved these noodles so much that we emailed Mr. Taka and asked if they made their noodles themselves or if they had a supplier. Turns out, they custom make all of their noodles through Sun Noodles (again with the Sun Noodles...FTW). The only down side I can think of for this whole bowl is that the bok choy was a little bitter in comparison to the sweet and spicy soup, but it was an interesting addition.
Mr. Taka also has 2 vegan friendly options for your vegetarian and vegan friends. Something to note - if you are allergic to peanuts, their Miso Ramen contains peanuts, but they were very allergy conscious and asked if anyone had any allergies while we were ordering.
Mr. Taka Ramen Address
170 Allen St, New York, NY 10002
is a New Yorker who, when she isn't day dreaming about ramen, works as a producer for film and TV. She is absolutely terrible at using chopsticks properly, but gets the job done. Her go to ramen order: Tonkotsu with thick noodles, extra corn and scallions.