20090512-zuzu2.jpgZuzu Ramen, which opened in Park Slope in May, has been commonly referred to as "the ramen shop from the Sheep Station people" by neighbors. That'd be the popular Aussie-themed gastropub around the corner. The owners have a tight local following, and are definitely doing their part to add life to an otherwise lifeless strip of gas stations and auto repair shops on 4th Avenue.

The name comes from the sound of slurping ramen. Zu-zuuuu. Executive chef Akihiro Moroto has worked in kitchens like Lespinasse, L’Atelier, and Jean Georges, where slurping is probably less acceptable. The menu consists of four kinds of ramen, two noodle dishes, two rice dishes, and five "morsels," or snacky things.

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"ZuZu Ramen," the namesake ramen on the menu

It's hard not to compare ZuZu with the East Village ramen shop gang—Ippudo, Setagaya, Minca, and Noodle Bar—and in terms of price point, they're definitely in the same boat. You can easily leave there dropping $60 for two (after two ramens, a couple morsels, and Sapporos).

The best of the ramens (and also the priciest at $14) is the namesake, ZuZu ramen. Two long strips (so long they're a little unwieldy to eat politely) of charshu, or roast pork, bathe in a smokey broth along with an oozy soft-boiled egg and heaping pile al dente noodles. Definitely splurge for it over the Hot and Sour with Shrimp ($11), which is going for a Tom Yum soup effect, but the slimy tomato sauce makes it something of an Asian ragu.

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Pork buns

Under the "Morsels" category, the pork buns ($8 for two) definitely seem to be a nod at David Chang, who put almost-$10 pork buns on the map. There's enough braised pork shoulder here to fill twice as many steamed buns, and enough sauce to moisturize a small child (plus it came with an extra little tub for dipping!). Though nicely flavored, it's a sloppy goopfest, and could use some more crunch from the waifish cucumber slices. Chang's have a better meat-to-bun proportion, and won't give you the same sauce 'stache after.

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Veggie dumplings

The veggie dumplings ($6, also available in pork) have a crisp green skin and are tasty, but in the way that dumplings that don't suck are. They come with a nice shiso seed dipping sauce for dunking.

I don't spend big bucks on ramen that often, but the food here is pretty tasty. Plus it has a nice low-key vibe that's less definitely frenetic than the East Village spots. The wooden tall stools (most tables are set for two) are fun, especially when you can watch Moroto in the glassed-in kitchen blowtorching pork.

Zuzu Ramen

173 Fourth Avenue, Park Slope Brooklyn 11217 (at DeGraw Street; map)
718-398-9898
Closed Mondays, Open Tues, Wed, Thurs, Sun 5 to 11 p.m. and Fri, Sat 5 p.m. to midnight
zuzuramen.com

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