The Original Ramen Burger
Sure, I've had the Ramen Burger here in Japan in recent months. And, sure, I even had it before all the madness, back in 2013 when Keizo Shimamoto made some for a little video short with Vice Japan. And, sure, I scoffed at it a little, especially when I heard that Keizo, a guy who's ramen passion is up there with some of the best tenchos in Japan, detoured from his dream of bringing real ramen to New York by throwing everything into the Ramen Burger.
The ramen boom was in full swing in New York, and the one guy who could help steer it away from the inevitable outcome, where newbie chefs dish out pumpkin-spice miso ramen to hoards of Instagramers, had bailed on us.
But I, like most of the haters out there, hadn't even tried the damn thing! I asked many of the tourists who joined me on my ramen tours what they thought of the trend, and most of them had strong opinions. Most of them, as well, had never even been to New York.
So I bide my time, until I could have it firsthand, at the weekly Smorgasburg food festival in Brooklyn, New York. This is where the Ramen Burger made an asteroid-size impact on the American food scene. People wanted a trendy, new, fun thing to eat. And they got it.
And now it's my turn!
It's hard to eloquently describe how awesome this thing is. No, it's not ramen. It's a burger, kicked up with an unusual topping.
Have you ever taken a burger, put corn chips and jalapenos on it, and been totally happy with your decision? The Ramen Burger is along those lines. The only difference is that corn chips and jalapenos are available on grocery store shelves everywhere. The Ramen Burger's noodle bun is not. It's a closely guarded secret, the process of forming noodles into a fryable bun. So you have this simple, junky thing that is only available at a couple places on the planet, and that's why I think the Ramen Burger is awesome.
Smorgasburg, in general, is pretty great. Everything is artisanal, gentrified versions of things you like.
Authentic in some sense of the word.
Transplanted and mutated.
A lot of it is just deep fried, which is a good thing.
I should note that the Ramen Burger is now available at a couple other Smorgasburg locations, at the Ramen.co shop, in Los Angeles in Koreatown, and randomly at food events around the world. Way to go Keizo!
I was with a few local friends, who wake up late every Saturday, stroll over to Smorgasburg, and get a Ramen Burger as part of their routine. The line is no longer epic (two to three hours in the past), and you shouldn't have much more than a 20 minute wait.
Wash it down with a local craft beer, or a cup of nerdy coffee, and enjoy the view of Manhattan.
Smorgasburg site here.
Ramen Burger site here.
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