Men Kui Tei
When I realized the other morning that Bo, Co, and I were going to be smack in the mid 50's around dinnertime that night, I turned to the great—though, for me, usually irrelevant—Midtown Lunch for suggestions.
The man did not let us down.
I mean, I can't say our meal at the ramen restaurant Men Kui Tei will have us hurrying back to the neighborhood anytime soon, but it definitely was rich and satisfying, inexpensive, and almost certainly better than some randomly chosen spot in this usually grim (touristy, tattered, tawdry) culinary stretch of Manhattan.
We started with some serviceable Gyoza—fat and fried with a nice crispy exterior, but too reliant upon scallions for my taste—and a quartet of sad, mushy Shu Mai, saved from complete blandness by the dipping sauce and mound of wasabi-like mustard.
But we were really here for the noodles, and, overall, they didn't disappoint. Bo and Co split a bowl of Miso Ramen and enjoyed it very much: the broth was heady, the noodles firm and flavorful, the two pieces of roast pork sufficiently tender. Just for variety I tried the Hiyashi Ramen, served cold, the nicely chewy noodles mingling with shredded pork, fried egg, pickled ginger, cucumber, and fake crab, all in about an inch of lively sesame sauce. This was perfect for what it was—the genre was not transcended, but neither was it defiled—and we all three walked out of there full and happy.
Men Kui Tei is located on 56th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. The room is unattractive, the service fast and friendly. Apparently there's a second Men Kui Tei in the East Village, but for God's sakes if you want ramen in that neighborhood please go to Momofuku, Setagaya or Rai Rai Ken instead.