slurp. sip. repeat. That’s the motto at Montclair’s newest restaurant, and one you’ll certainly want to take them up on. At Ani Ramen, recently opened on Bloomfield Ave, just across the street from the Wellmont Theater, waiters deliver big bowls of steaming ramen to eager patrons who line up and down the block in anticipation.
For such a new restaurant, they’ve certainly made a big local impression. Every time I’ve visited, most of the tables have been full, and on a recent Friday night, hopeful diners gathered outside waiting. Fortunately, the crew at Ani Ramenhave their act together, and I’ve never waited long for a table or my meal. With a decidedly cool downtown vibe, you might feel as if you’ve wandered off Bloomfield Ave and found yourself in Williamsburg or the Village.
Once seated at your table, you’ll consider a short but thoughtful menu of shared small plates, salads, and of course, ramen. Standout starters include the show-stopping edamame, charred and seasoned with sea salt and chili powder, the pork buns, topped with cabbage, pickled cucumbers and spicy miso mayo, and the green salad with tangy ginger dressing and crispy tofu. For the main event, you’ll have your pick of six ramen choices, all delicious, all democratically priced at $12, and all made with handmade noodles that’ll make you forget all about those sad styrofoam tubs of “ramen” you subsisted on in college.
Though I haven’t had the pleasure of trying all six of the ramen options, I found myself returning to and reordering both the spicy miso ramen and the vegetarian ramen. The spicy miso ramen comes with a rich pork flavored broth, complimented by big juicy slices of pork and more shredded pork tangled in with the noodles. This is definitely a hearty, filling, comforting option, and the spiciness would be great to kick a cold (or a hangover). The vegetarian ramen combines an all vegetable broth with roasted bean sprouts, spinach, mushrooms, and scallions.
As expected, the vegetarian ramen tastes lighter and less fatty than the pork-laced ramen, and the broth brings more delicate flavors to the bowl. The handmade noodles steal the show here and really shine. You can also customize your ramen bowl with a selection of add-ons, ranging from $1-3. Braised pork belly, marinated soft-boiled egg, nori, mushrooms, bamboo, and homemade seasoning oils all found their place in my ramen bowl at one meal or another. To wash it all down, you have your choice of a selection of hot and cold teas, american and Japanese sodas, and my pick, the salty and sweet yuzu lemonade. Even better, since Ani Ramen resides in Montclair, the restaurant is accommodatingly BYOB.
For the full article and photos, visit Devil Gourmet.