I had a big list of food places to hit up before we went to NYC. Yuji Ramen was one of the top ones. Ever since I had their mazemen inside Whole Foods 2 years, ago, I've been dreaming about their food. haha.
But since then, they have closed up shop inside Whole Foods and opened a brick and mortar establishment called Okonomi in Brooklyn. And luckily, it was only a 15 minute walk from our Airbnb apartment!!
150 Ainslie St.
Brooklyn, NY 11211
They have a different setup for lunch vs dinner. During the day they serve a Set Breakfast/Lunch for $15~ There is no physical menu, just what's fresh for that day. So the options are very limited. It's a very traditional Japanese style (they call it "Ichiju Sansai" set meal) with smaller portions, very clean and light eating. Dinner is mostly ramen and mazemen, and a few appetizer options. Also a small menu. Breakfast/Lunch is served Monday - Sunday. Dinner is only Monday - Friday.
We went on Thursday around 11:30AM. We got the last 2 seats at the bar. It's such an adorable place. Really small... there are 2 tables that seats up to 4. And 4 seats at the bar. Then you look right into the kitchen where the chefs are cooking away. I loved it. Super homey and reminded me of Japan.
We were served Hot Tea to start. Then the waitress went over the options for the lunch since there wasn't a menu to look over.
For our entrees we got to choose from their Fish of the Day: Tuna Belly, Blue Fish Collar, and Blue Fish something else... And each dish comes with sides of Bok Choy with Tofu Sauce, Baked Egg, Pickled Vegetables, Miso Soup, and Brown Rice. Then... you can add the Uni with Poached Egg +$6~
While we waited, I started chatting with the chefs. I told them I loved Yuji Ramen 2 years ago so I had to check out Okonomi. And they were our first stop! They were super friendly. They also told us about their concept. During the day, they serve the fresh fish they just got, and then start the stock for the ramen broth with the bones and other parts. They want to showcase whatever was the freshest that day and also utilize every part of the fish. I thought that was a great concept. No waste, sustainable, and the menu changes daily!
I got the Tuna Belly.
It's so beautifully plated with the side dishes. So minimalistic and colorful. The belly was cooked perfectly. Lightly salted so I can actually taste the fish. The bok choy with tofu sauce was light and refreshing. And tofu sauce?? Never had that before. I could taste the soy in the tofu! The pickled vegetables added a nice acidity to the whole plate, paired really well with everything. I even ate the carrots! Gasp! :P And lastly, that egg... omg the egg. It was amazinggggggggg!! It was sweet and rich and luxurious. I saved it as my last bite of the entire meal.
We both got the uni with poached egg.
We found out that the lunch that day was the last day for uni. I think there was a shortage or something so they weren't able to get anymore for the forseeable future. Lucky us!! The waitress explained to us what we should do with it. You make a well in the rice, pour the mixture in, and mix it all together. Be careful when mixing because that rice bowl is FULL!! Can't waste a single drop! :P And oh em gee. That mixture is deeeelicious! I'm so glad we were able to experience it.
He got the Blue Fish Collar.
It was a pretty decent size. Cooked perfectly, super tender. Yummy. I actually liked it better than my tuna belly.
It was a wonderful lunch. Light but delicious, and we weren't overstuffed, since we had lots of other places to go!
The chefs were wonderful as well. Gave us some recommendations for places to check out. And since they were only doing ramen at night... we told them they might just see us again later that day. hehe.
... Aaaaand, we Went back to Okonomi for a late dinner. It becomes Yuji Ramen at night. This time my fiance's sister joined us. They don't take reservations so we had to be put on the list and waited. We got there a little before 9PM and we waited for almost 45 minutes. Luckily there's a little bar/cafe around the corner, so we went there to chill.
Finally it was our turn. I greeted the chef that we met earlier that day. He was very happy to see that we've returned. He came over and gave us a run down of the menu.
None of us were really that hungry, but while the chef was talking about the sashimi plate, he roped me in. haha. And I'm on vacation, why not?!
Sashimi Plate (blackfin tuna, boston mackerel, porgy - starting bottom left, clockwise) $24~
Porgy is a small red snapper. He got me with the blackfin tuna. I've never heard of it. And he said this was the first time they were able to get this fish. So I HAD to try it. haha. It came with 2 condiments: Kosho...kind of a spicy yuzu relish, and fish roe sauce. The sashimi was super fresh. Surprisingly the mackerel was our favorite. Usually mackerel is too fishy, but this wasn't. And Kosho is awesome! I've never had it before. It had a kick to it... almost like wasabi but still different. I've never heard of it until then. Apparently you can buy it in Japanese supermarkets! It was a small sampling of sashimi but I think it was worth it. I got to try fish I've never had and the quality was just top notch.
We decided to each pick a noodle dish and share.
Bacon and Egg Mazemen (brothless ramen with meat hook bacon, onsen egg, kale, bonito flakes) $15~ Add cheese +$1~
I had this one 2 years ago. It's still just as good. The noodles in mazemen are generally thicker and chewier, which I love. I suggest you add the cheese. It's not overpowering, but it adds more flavor and a creaminess to everything. Yum.
Kaisen Hiyashi Chuka Mazemen (brothless; chilled noodle, squid, boston mackerel, porgy, clam lip, sweet vinegar soy, sesame) $18~
This was my choice. And what a good choice it is. :P It's a cold noodle. Kind of like a seafood ramen salad. The sauce is with vinegar/soy/sesame is almost like a dressing. The noodle is perfectly al dente. And there were so much seafood in there. Some were cooked, and some were pieces of sashimi we had in our appetizer. This was everyone's favorite.
Ankimo Miso Ramen (creamy monkfish liver broth, torched whelk, arugula) $17~
We wanted to have at least one ramen with broth since they've been cooking it since early that morning. This was highly recommended. And monkfish is pretty unique so I said we should get this one. The broth was amazing, so rich in flavor. You get a hint of the liver but it only enriched the overall flavor. The noodles were thin but cooked perfectly. Fantastic. If it wasn't so late at night, I'd probably have finished the soup as well. But too much sodium at night gives me nightmares. :(
3 of us shared everything. It was more than enough since we ate all day. Their ramen and mazemen is not to be missed! It's been phenomenal from beginning to end. His sister loved it so much. She said she was definitely going to bring her Japanese friend to try it. And the service was fantastic. At the end of our meal, the chef jokingly said that we shouldn't come back anymore. haha. He was very appreciative of our support but there are so many other places to go!
I highly HIGHLY recommend Okonomi/Yuji Ramen. We've loved everything we had here. So take a day and make your way into Brooklyn!! You won't regret it. :)
Quality of Food:
~~ CHOMP CHOMP ~~