Last week, I visited The Graffiti Room with Jessica of Ambitious Eats. She found this spot on Yelp, and I agreed to lunching here as it’s different from most ramen joints. It seems fitting for a restaurant located in Nolita to be decorated with street art as I always stumble across murals and graffiti that I’ve never seen before whenever I’m wandering through the neighborhood.
The interior of The Graffiti Room was made for Instagram. It’s got a trendy, industrial vibe with a quirky, artsy touch. Even if you don’t need to use the restroom, it’s worth taking a look inside. It’s clear that they’re trying to target to a younger clientele, but perhaps they’re trying a little too hard? (Or maybe I’ve turned into a 30-year old grumpus?)
Jessica got passion tea with sweet lemon ($4.50). No surprise that they serve their drinks in mason jars here. Apparently this tasted a lot like some drink at Starbucks.
The menu comes with a dry erase marker. Mark what you want to order and doodle away. For your ramen soup base, you can choose between a tonkotsu pork and chicken blend or a miso broth. Prior to my visit, I had confirmed with the restaurant via email that the miso broth is completely vegetable-based.
The soup base only includes the basics: ramen noodles, greens, bean sprouts, scallions, and corn. It costs a few dollars more for toppings, and you could easily work your way up to a $15+ bowl with all your usual ramen toppings. Or you could go all out with toppings and end up with a hefty $29 bowl. The ramen is presented on a wooden board complete with a hole for your chopsticks. Don’t poke your eye out on the chopsticks!
I got the miso ramen ($9.50) with veggie dumplings (+$3). I don’t understand why they bothered to fry the dumplings before placing them in the ramen. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose? There’s soy sauce on the side for dipping, but the dumplings got soggy and started falling apart not long after sitting in the broth. Meh, they tasted okay, nothing remarkable.
The noodles were overcooked, the miso broth was bland, and the veggie toppings were not enough to save this bowl. I’m not saying I need my ramen to be super salty and rich AF, but it’s gotta have enough flavor to get me hooked. Jessica got the tonkotsu soup base, and she mentioned that it was light and could also use more flavor too.
There’s an add-ons bar slash suitcase with pickled veggies and sauces. Unfortunately, those really don’t do much for the ramen. Nice idea, looks cute. That seems to the theme here… it’s all about appearances, and the food needs some work.
This place currently has an average overall rating of 4.5 stars on Yelp. Whatever those people are on, what is it and where can I score some? Or maybe we just happened to visit on an off day? Meh, there’s plenty of other ramen in NYC that packs more of a wow factor.
Sorry, Graffiti Room, you guys seemed cool and all, but the highlight of my visit was the David Bowie mural outside, not the ramen.