I love the ramen at Mecha Noodle Bar so much that it’s not easy to get me to order anything else. But Tony Pham, the owner, recently prevailed upon me to try the mushroom dumplings. They were an awesome example of fusion food. The pan-seared half-moons were filled with mushroom duxelles, a creamy paste of chopped mushrooms, shallots and herbs. At the bottom of the bowl was a buttery miso sauce that had us scraping the bowl to get every last drop. Julienned scallions and carrots and a few arugula leaves were a fresh, bright contrast to the rich dumplings and sauce. A group of ladies at the next table had ordered it too. “This is so good!” I heard them say.
I stopped into Mecha Noodle bar in Fairfield the other day to see how it’s coming along since opening a couple months ago. It was a Saturday afternoon, the music was blaring and the vibe was youthful. I immediately noticed that pho has been added to the menu. That’s not surprising given that Tony Pham’s family has been running Pho Vietnam in Danbury for 7 years, and it’s known for its clear, fragrant homemade broth. I would have tried the pho except that during the drive to Mecha, I’d been thinking about the homemade ramen broth, that milky colored, rich broth of long-simmered bones from Saugatuck Craft Butchery. And once I thought of that broth, I had to have the ramen.
A reader wrote in to disagree with my write-up of Mecha Noodle bar for The Weekly. He drove up to Fairfield from Cos Cob, got take out and drove it back to Cos Cob. He found the food didn’t compare favorably with Momofuko in New York City. Fair comparision? Probably not. Especially with the take-out factor. Food prepared by the chef and served in the restaurant tastes better than food packaged up for a ride and reheated at home. Last Saturday, I enjoyed the ramen at Mecha. The broth was richly flavored, noodles were springy, the chicken was tender and hinting of spice, and the egg was perfectly soft-boiled.
My favorite place to have ramen in New York City is Menchenko Tei. It’s near Grand Central, and my pal Gregg Glaser, editor of Yankee Brew News, likes to end an evening there before catching the train back to Connecticut. It’s an excellent tradition. I always order the thin noodles in rich pork broth, simmered Berkshire pork, black mushrooms, soft-boiled eggs, ginger and scallion. I’m craving it as I write. Menchenko Tei’s address is 131 E. 45th Street, NYC. What’s your favorite place to get ramen?