Serious Eats: New York
Slurped: Comfort Ramen at Tabata Noodle
Quick poll; do you eat a soup, or do you drink it? What about a broth? These, of course, are the kinds of questions that keep me up at night, the kind of questions at the forefront of my mind during a recent visit to Tabata Noodle.
Their coconut-chicken soup (used for their Tabata Ramen, $9) was by far the thickest ramen broth I've drunk. Or eaten, as it were.
I thought of all the things that could have gone wrong with the broth. It could've been too thick or thin. Too salty or sweet. Too much like coconut, or not enough.
But it was neither so thick as to be turbid, nor so sweet as to be cloying. The broth was thickened with soy bean powder, which didn't taste like anything but made for a velvety texture. (You could call it mouthfeel, but I hate the word mouthfeel. It's like someone wasn't trying hard enough when they came up with that composite.)
Anyway, back to the broth. It was plenty chicken-y. It was, in short, pretty fantastic. Especially for nine dollars a bowl, well on the low-end of ramen prices. (As for toppings, "spicy chicken" was not spicy at all, but nice and tender. Additional toppings can be purchased for add-ins.)
Less favorable to my palate was Tabata's Tan Tan Men, with sesame chicken soup ($9). It was the same idea, but here, here the proportions were not to my liking. It was too salty, too sweet, hit with so much sesame that every sip made me want to pause for a drink of water. Maybe it just needed a little more broth, less concentrated flavor. Whatever the issue, it was just not soothing to me.
And yet I ate most of it anyway. Which just goes to show that most broths, paired with ramen, can only be so offensive. The noodles themselves were chewy and alkaline heavy, just the way I like them.
I should mention that Tabata Noodle is in midtown, along 9th Avenue on the same latitude as Times Square. Now I have never on any occasion felt like going to that area, mostly because everyone is always so suited up there and then you feel, you know, somehow inadequate. Even though I, or theoretical "you," are perfectly happy with the choices you have made in life that have all but barred you from looking respectable. Yes, indeed. Perfectly happy.
But I (or you) really ought to brave the midtown crowds and eat (or drink) the coconut-chicken broth at Tabata once more. It's worth it.
About the author: Born in Shanghai and raised in New Mexico, Chichi Wang currently resides in Manhattan, where she divides her time between writing, cooking, and tracking down the best noodles in the city. Visit her blog, Mostly Tripe.