Monday, March 29, 2010

Green Curry Miso Ramen, an Idea Whose Time Should Never Have Come

I had read about ZuZu Ramen shortly after it opened a year ago, on the cusp of Park Slope, Boerum Hill and Gowanus, not far from where I live, but I didn't make it there until earlier this month. It had opened to rave reviews from New York Magazine, Time Out and The Village Voice. Park Slope's got a ramen shop, hurrah, hurrah, they hailed. Either all those reviewers were on crack or I caught ZuZu Ramen on a really bad day. My guess is they all fell for the restaurant's own hype.

Much was made of the executive chef's pedigree: he had worked in the kitchens at Lespinasse and Jean Georges after having apprenticed at his father's noodle shop in Nagoya. They all talked about how Akihiro Moroto was taking bold liberties with ramen tradition. All the reviews highlighted the green curry miso ramen, chef Moroto's own creation. I was skeptical, but I figured if the place was going for audacity I'd meet it on its own terms.

What I ended up with was one of the foulest, most ridiculous things I've been served in a restaurant in quite some time. First of all, the mixture of green curry paste and miso is a salty-spicy train wreck. It reminded me of something, but I couldn't quite place it. Then it came to me: this is what Comet cleanser would probably taste like.

As for the noodles, the "ramen," these were more like thin Cantonese yellow noodles, cooked too long, pasty and clumped up into little balls. This monstrous culinary blasphemy wasn't helped in the least by the big hunks of dry, stringy, flavorless pork shoulder.

At lunch, they also offer complimentary dumplings, pork or vegetable. I had the pork ones, which were more like Korean mandoo than Japanese gyoza. They were incredibly greasy, and the oil tasted rather "off."

The hurrahs will have to wait. Park Slope is still waiting for a proper ramen shop.

ZuZu Ramen
173 Fourth Avenue (corner of Degraw)


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