Not many people know instant ramen outside of its Styrofoam containers. And no, you don’t have to travel to Asia for the real deal either. Instead, RameNesque in Thornwood is within your budget and will leave you feeling like a class act for ordering ramen out.
RameNesque is a Japanese restaurant that’s hidden just outside of Memorial Plaza in Pleasantville.
The first thing you’ll notice is its elegantly designed interior that mixes traditional Japanese architecture with modern day restaurant feel.
Then you’re greeted with their polite and attentive waiters who are always within earshot waiting to assist in any way. My water glass was never empty and after ordering, you’ll wait no longer than 15-20 minutes for food, sometimes less.
The best seat? Right next to the fish pond. Despite the numerous catfish staring at you eating, it’s still the best seat.
There’s plenty of college students slurping ramen, but there were also men and women in suits and ties talking about their jobs, which gave the feeling that this restaurant is a place for lunch breaks or business meetings.
And sometimes, I felt like I couldn’t be louder than the fish pond’s waterfall splashing.
I found the food to be excellent, however. With plenty of ramen made from chicken and pork stock bases that are cooked for five and eight hours, respectively. All of their Instagram- and Snapchat-worthy bowls of ramen are worth the $13.
I started out with the Pork bun, a $9 appetizer, that was both surprisingly good and filling. The bun was steaming hot with pork that was cooked for nine hours. The tangy sauce made for a combination of sweet and juicy pork.
My go-to dish is Tonkotsu ramen because it’s a meat lover’s dream soup. You’re met with an aroma of it followed by its artful presentation with vegetables, pork or chicken, and a hard boiled egg on top of it all. Portions are large, however, and can be too much for one sitting so go on an empty stomach.
You’re also given a choice to make your ramen spicy, which is hot but not enough to clear your sinuses. Try getting sriracha sauce on the side as well.
Gluten-free and vegetarian/vegan ramen, where the meat is replaced with tofu and there are more veggies, is what I had my last visit.
It’s bland to someone like myself who believes ramen should have chicken or pork in it, but having the healthy option is appreciated because instant ramen isn’t healthy no matter how fancy you make it.
While instant ramen is dirt-cheap, it’s linked to heart attacks and diabetes. One package may boast more than half of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recommended daily sodium intake.
Instant ramen also contains chemicals such as tertiary-butylhydroquinone (TBHQ), which extends the life of food, but can cause nausea, vomiting, or high blood pressure.
RameNesque’s owner, Nikki Lee, claims that preservatives, additives, or monosodium glutamate (MSG) aren’t used in their food.
“A lot of restaurants use canned foods or artificial products, but we make everything here,” said Lee, who is also the head chef. “Our motto is to make food as if I was treating family or friends.”
RameNesque knows how to deliver. The food and service are flat out worth coming back for.