Monday, October 12, 2015

Mu in New York



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Mu is the hottest ramen shop in New York at the time of writing. Joshua Smookler was a chef at Per Se (named one of the best restaurants in the world) before branching off into the ramen world. For a while he operated a pop-up out of a bagel shop, gained critical success, and went on to open a seriously hip shop just across the Pulaski Bridge in Queens.

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Seriously, every article I've read mentions, in detail, the specific nature of the shop's very expensive designer stools, before going into detail about the ramen.

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The shop follows the same model as most ramen shops in New York; four or five different bowls, a dozen or so fancy appetizers, and plenty of Japanese sake, wine, and craft beer.

I like this model because, well, good food and drink is good food and drink. I don't like this model because you fill up on overly flavorful snacks (rightly over-flavored to go with a nice glass of sake) before getting into your ramen. Your belly is nearly full, and your taste buds have been shocked with all sorts of amazing flavors. No one does it, but you might consider slurping your ramen first, then relaxing with some snacks and drinks.

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The tonkotsu 2.0 seems to be the one to go with. People tend to compare everything to Ippudo in New York, which is a shame, but if you like this taste, Mu delivers. That soup is cooked for 20 hours in specialized pots, pulling out just about as much creaminess as physically possible. The roasted chashu is seasoned perfectly. The noodles, from everyone's go-to Sun Noodle, bring the whole thing together.

A fantastic bowl.

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The shoyu was, I thought, a miss. They use a broth made with duck, but the tare was too sweet. I'd like to see this one showcase the smoky, gamy nature of the bird, with a deeper shoyu flavor.

They also offer a namesake Mu Ramen, which uses an oxtail soup and is topped with pickles and brisket. I was intrigued by this Jewish-inspired bowl, but my stomach is simply not that big.

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There are a number of interesting looking "treats" on the menu. The clams came recommended, as did the tebasaki gyoza, boneless chicken wings stuffed with foie gras and brioche. Alas, I was dining alone and didn't feel like spending a hundred bucks on food that I wouldn't be able to finish. Yes, Mu is a pricey place. With drinks, you could easily spend $60 a person.

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I should also mention that I have heard tales of insane lines here. But on a Monday at noon, I had no problem waltzing in for a counter seat.

And I should mention, they have a weekend limited tasting menu for $105 a person. Check the site for details.

Is Mu the best in New York? So long as creamy tonkotsu is king, then I can see Mu reigning supreme for quite some time. You can roll in for a quick bowl for lunch, and at $15, it seems quite reasonable. What are you waiting for?

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Official site here.

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Map of 1209 Jackson Ave, Queens, NY 11101, USA

1209 Jackson Ave Long Island City, NY 11101
Closest station: Court Sq

Open M-F 12:00-2:30, 5:30-10 (11 on Friday)
Saturday 5:30-11
Sunday 5:30-10