Lunch sets at Kambi Ramen in the East Village start at $13.50—quite a deal, considering that a bowl of ramen alone at dinner runs nearly the same price. Here lunch begins with a house salad, similar to most of the simple tossed greens found at Japanese restaurants; it was studded with fresh cherry tomatoes, and dressed in a soy-based vinaigrette.
Next up is a "small rice dish" of your choice: a free range chicken bowl, spicy fresh salmon bowl, or pork charsiu roll. I like the spicy fresh salmon bowl best—sushi rice topped with slices of salmon sashimi and spicy salmon; for this price, the quality was better than anticipated. This bowl is enough to fill you up for a light lunch, so if you're not that hungry, get this portion of the lunch set wrapped up, otherwise you'll have no room for the ramen!
Your ramen choice determines the price of the lunch—starting at $13.50 for the basics, and going up to $15.75 for Spicy Miso Ramen and $19 for the Kimchi MIso Ramen. I'm typically a fan of pork-based broth when it comes to ramen, but at Kambi, it's the chicken-based broth that's superior. Order it with the thicker, wavy noodles, and your dish will arrive in minutes—brother deep and hearty, if not quite heavy. The noodles are cooked just perfectly; it's topped off with half a boiled egg, green onions, mountain vegetables, and three slices of downright buttery pork charshu.
Lunch is an ideal way to get a taste of what Kambi has to offer without paying for dinner prices. When I stopped in on a rainy afternoon, the restaurant was less than half-full, service was sweet and prompt, and my water glass was constantly full. Kambi is now one of my go-to lunch spots.
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