Minca Ramen on a Sunday. We arrived at 12:30pm and were seated immediately. It started to get a little crowded about 20 minutes later.
Hidden away in Alphabet City, Minca is a teensy tiny ramen shop (even smaller than Totto Ramen). The space feels authentic and comforting. They had some weird music playing – it sounded like it should be the soundtrack for an old school Nintendo game. We grabbed one of the window seats facing E 5th St. It was beautiful out. If we can’t sit outside, at least we get a view of the street. Gorgeous weather, mellow neighborhood. At Minca, you can customize your ramen with thick, thin, wavy wheat, whole wheat and bean noodles. The menu also includes noodle recommendations if you can’t make up your mind. John ordered the Spicy Vegetable Miso Ramen with wavy wheat noodles ($13) which included fried tofu and vegetables for toppings. As you can see, very big bowl of ramen. At Minca, they’re definitely not stingy with ingredients at all. The corn and cabbage were a little unusual, but tasty with the broth. Light spiciness, intense miso flavor. This was much more miso than I’ve tasted at any other ramen places so far. I didn’t try the wavy noodles, but John enjoyed big mouthfuls of noodles that he could really bite into. There are a lot of noodles in that bowl. A LOT.
I had trouble choosing between the Minca (soy sauce, pork and chicken broth) and the Basic (salt and roast garlic, pork broth). Both had been recommended in top ramen articles on foodie blogs. I ordered the Minca Sio ($10.50), which seemed like the perfect compromise. Minca Sio has the salt and garlic flavor AND the mixed pork and chicken broth. Win, win! Look at that. Seriously, look at that bowl of ramen right there. It looks like a stick of butter was melted in the broth. Rich, creamy broth packed with burnt garlic flavor. Minca’s garlic puts Hide-Chan‘s black garlic to shame. Disclaimer: I’m a garlic lover, so I was in garlic heaven, but this garlicky broth is not for everyone. I’m glad I got the thin noodles. Good texture, good balance of noodles and broth. Next, let’s talk about this char siu. Pretty sure my eyes lit up as soon as I tasted the char siu. Lightly marinated. So tender and flavorful. Oh, and the fatty bits melted in my mouth. I sometimes get weirded out by really fatty char siu (like at Totto Ramen), but Minca’s char siu was delish. Huge pieces of char siu with a good balance of tender meat and fat (!!!). The broth on its own wasn’t that full of porky goodness, but the generous topping of char siu definitely met my porky goodness quota for ramen. The egg was on the chewy side, seemed a little overdone. Good soy sauce flavor though. Yep, I slurped all the broth. The burnt garlic complemented the sio (salt) broth nicely. Sometimes sio broths just need an extra kick to bring it to life. The garlic did the trick. Minca Ramen left me pretty full, although I was a wee bit jealous that John’s bowl was bigger than mine! He also finished all his miso broth. Nom.
We were tempted by the gyoza, but decided to stick to ramen. Someone seated near us ordered the shrimp gyoza, and it looked pretty legit. I had to force myself to stop staring at their gyoza. Hah, oops.
Minca, Minca, Minca, I cannot stop thinking about your beautiful char siu. Your broth is pretty amazing too. Prices are reasonable and similar to Setagaya Ramen, but the food is at least one level up. Minca Ramen… I am impressed, but why are you all the way in Alphabet City!