“If you just look at the ramen, you’ll feel it.”
So says the ramen chef in what is arguably one of the worst movies ever made, “The Ramen Girl.” In the depths of quarantine, I came across it and could not manage to stop watching this clunky rom-com because of the noodle subplot. I had NO IDEA there was such a thing as a ramen master or what one had to go through to become one (um, it’s a lot.)
As riveted as I was to the screen then, I sort of forgot all about ramen by the time restaurants opened again. Meanwhile, the folks at Menya Ramen House began bringing this legendary dish right to Main Street, Metuchen and I just about missed it until…a broken jaw kept me on liquids for weeks.
Make no mistake, the true beauty of ramen is in the harmony of all the solid components against the broth but if one can only have broth, this is the broth to have. I downed Menya’s Tonkatsu broth, made with collagen rich pork
bones and miso paste (to go orders package the broth separately) in what was one of the only meals in that time where I felt as if I had actually eaten something. Then I began to count the days till I could walk in Menya and eat like a person again.
That day is taking longer to come than I thought, but I went back anyway and started small. My first trip was the Tonkatsu with noodles only and on my next visit, a proper order with noodles and topped with roasted marinated pork and homemade spicy oil.
Do you see that? One look and I felt it. I was right to follow that feeling because all those flavors came together into a comforting, balanced dish that was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. The pork was tender and rich, and its deep flavor penetrated the entire dish deliciously. You feel and taste the effort put into that base soup with each bite and slurp.
Being new to this ramen game I have not visited enough yet to try all I’d like to so I dragged a bunch of friends at once to take advantage of photo ops and tasting. Each one of them agreed we all must spend more time there. Which reminds me, I’d like to point out that Menya makes the most of its small size with an airy, casual, and bright dining area and the staff is attentive and helpful to newbies.
Being that I sold the Tonkotsu so hard, a lot of my party ordered that. However here are some of Menya’s other creations, which all received high marks from us:
Chasu: white rice topped with marinated roasted pork
Beek Korokke: deep fried with potatoes and onions
Spicy Kaisen with prawns, clams and house made tofu
Now I have never pretended to be anything I am not here at YDKJ; I am no chef or food critic. I am simply a food fanatic who dines out often as my personal equivalent of entertaining. I pay attention to detail and appreciate the right menu for the right mood because I like matching a friend with a meal they will love. Menya Ramen House hits a lot of moods. It can be a quick stop to eat at their counter or a leisurely meal you bring home to family or
share with them at the shop’s tables. Whether you want something simple and satisfying or complex and delicate the ramen manages to fit the bill. The rest of the menu is well thought out and has just enough choices to keep things interesting without being overwhelming.
That said I don’t think I’ll be getting bored of ramen any time soon. Add Menya Ramen House to the already long list of reasons to get to Metuchen the next time you’re hungry. The moment they set it in front of you, you’ll feel it
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