My favorite causal restaurant in NYC is called Souen, it’s an organic macrobiotic restaurant (there’s two, I like the one on 13th Street between University Place and 5th Avenue). When I heard that Souen was opening a new ramen place, I was very excited. Most of the über-hyped ramen places in the city (Ippudo, Momofuku Noodle Bar, etc.) use pork broth, which is not vegetarian-friendly.
I met Sonya at Souen Ramen–with its modern white exterior and inviting red door–on Wednesday night for dinner. The inside of the small spot is modern, but still manages to be cozy. After asking the waiter a slew of questions, we settled on two appetizers: burdock kinpira and the special Brussels sprouts.
The kinpira, which was a mix of burdock (a.k.a. gobo), carrot, and lotus root, was perfectly seasoned. It was my favorite dish of the night. The Brussels, which came in a peanut sauce with walnuts on top, were good but I found the sauce to be a little watery. As for main courses, I ordered hot miso udon (made with kombu broth and organic udon noodles), and Sonya had cold miso ramen noodles.
My noodles were not what I would consider udon by any means. They were flat and tasted more like rice noodles. The miso broth was good, but didn’t taste like any I’ve had in Japan (perhaps it’s the pork stock that makes all the difference).
Sonya’s dish, on the other hand, was spot on. The texture of the organic ramen noodles was just right, and the cold miso sauce tasted exactly as I hoped my broth would. If you’re looking for a healthier ramen option, Souen Ramen does the trick, but I think that I’m going to stick to the original Souen (I adore their grain planet platter).