Last night, Steve and I were watching “The Mind of a Chef” featuring David Chang (as seen on Netflix); whom educated us on the history and beauty of the ramen noodle. He explained that there are three major food groups in Japan: Fish, rice and ramen.
“Contemporary ramen is totally different than what most Americans think ramen should be. Ramen is not one thing; there are many, many different types,” – David Chang.
This is clearly represented at HinoMaru, a new ramen restaurant in Astoria.
HinoMaru offers seven regional Japanese ramens in addition to an entire menu of delicious and traditional starters.
We both ordered sake. I ordered their house hot sake, which was typical (and yummy), Steve ordered their Nigori Creme de Sake, which we will order again because it was DELICIOUS! It was a perfect to accompaniment to the heat provided in many of their dishes.
For starters we ordered one of their daily specials, Sashmi tacos:
And also ordered the Ebi Chilli (spicy shrimp tempura):
Both were fresh and well seasoned. The taco’s had the perfect crunch and the light touch of acid really brought out the delicious fresh flavors of the fish. The shrimp was lightly fried in a way that complimented (instead of overpowering) the shrimp with a zesty chili sauce adding depth. We highly recommend both!
Then it was on to the big moment: The Ramen. We both asked our waiter to recommend our dishes. He told me to order the Tonkotsu shoyu:
A creamy pork broth with cha-su, kikurage, scallion, menma, nori and a fish cake.
The noodles held the broth perfectly. This was a mouthwatering, homemade meal with a perfect balance in flavor. The broth was a bit salty, but it worked with the entire dish. This is a perfect introduction to the world of ramen if you are going for the first time.
Steve was recommended the Honomaru:
Also in a creamy pork broth with cha-su, kikurage, scallion, menma, nori and fish cake. In addition there were bean sprouts and a fire ball (spicy pork meatball). The fire ball had heat but was not as spicy as the name would suggest. As we mentioned earlier, the heat from the dish and the creme de sake was a great pairing. The juicy, tender pork in the dish really stood out in flavor and texture.
We were not offered a dessert menu. We think this was because they probably don’t have one. Instead we got our check, which was for the best since we were so full!
We did see this lovely sign on our way out:
They received a Michelin recommendation for excellence on a budget! Overall, the service, food and atmosphere were wonderful. This is worth a visit if you are in Astoria.
**Out of a possible 5 stars, here’s what we thought….
Décor: 4 star Service: 4 stars
Beverage List: 3 star Food: 4 stars
Location: 3 star Overall: 4 stars
$15 – $40 per person.
Astoria, NY 11105