Fellow ramen lovers have been urging me for months to get over to Minca, a hole-in-the-wall near Avenue B that purportedly serves up bowls of noodles to rival the likes of Momofuku, Setagaya, and Rai Rai Ken.
Maybe it was because I was too early, around 6:00 (and served the remains of last night's batch of broth?); or perhaps the signature Minca Ramen isn't the way to go; but whatever the reason, my dinner was pretty much a disaster.
I started with the Homemade Gyoza, which looked amazing, all charred and glistening, but tasted mostly like scalded scallions and pan scrapings. I'm not even sure I ate all six. Then came the ramen, and once more my hopes leaped high at the sight of this rich, hearty dish. But though the noodles were pleasantly toothsome, and the pork moist and appropriately fatty, the broth had such a sharp undercurrent of bitterness, and burnt-ness (think coffee that's been sitting on a hot plate for days), that I had to shake off the soup's toppings before I could bear to put them in my mouth.
Again, this is just one man's experience with one meal at a place that many swear by... but with so many proven ramen winners in the neighborhood, I don't see the point in risking a repeat.
Minca is located on 5th Street between Avenues A and B, and serves lunch and dinner. The regular ramen runs about $8.50.