Ramen that’s worth the wait: Chuko (Brooklyn)
I have a thing for ramen. Like a heart racing, leg shaking, breath catching obsession for spicy and hearty broths filled with round or flat spun noodles that are perfectly chewy and wildly delicious. New York City has no shortage of places that serve up such goodness and there are parts of Manhattan where you’d be hard pressed to walk more than a few blocks (thinking Hell’s Kitchen here) without stumbling upon yet another place that has ramen on the menu.
Brooklyn is a different beast though and while the borough is coming into its own in terms of serving up culinary delights, there are still some kitchens you have to search for if you find yourself sideswiped by a certain craving.
That said, when you come across a place that’s good in Brooklyn it tends to be really good. It will be the sort of place where people show up with a bad case of hanger on their hands and still wait for 40 minutes for food so good that you can hear them muttering blessings under their breath between every bite. Chuko Ramen is that kind of place and by God/Buddha/Allah/whatever almighty you worship…it’s worth the wait.
And then some.
Established by three noodle-mad restauranteurs (two of Morimoto fame) Chuko is found in Brooklyn’s Prospect Heights neighbourhood just a short walk from the Barclay’s Center. Located at the northern end of Vanderbilt Avenue, Chuko has staked its claim on a street frequented by many and is home to a mix of grungy bars, hipster cafés, vintage clothing shops and locally owned boutiques that sell all manner of cute and quaint.
Chuko itself is small and modest, and with polished wooden tables and exposed brick wall it’s what you’d expect of a restaurant in one of Brooklyn’s trendy-yet-still-rough-around-the-edges districts. Replete with a menu that boasts 9-10 items, all the options look and taste as good as they sound with the flavour of some of some dishes being, quite literally, out of this world. For someone who is always on the look out for dairy-free alternatives that are delicious, Chuko hits the mark with items such as the fried (and not at all bitter) brussel sprouts that are doused in fish oil and covered with a smattering of chopped peanuts and hot peppers for an added kick.
It satisfies with spicy pickles that hit your palate in all the right places and the kale salad that’s wonderfully bittersweet. It pleases with the steamed bun with pork and puts the the hanger/hunger to rest with deep bowls filled with fresh noodles and long-simmered broths that are accompanied by ethically farmed (read: hormone-free) meats and seasonal ingredients like sweet potato, scallion, market vegetables, a boiled egg.
I waited 45 minutes for my first meal at Chuko. Yes, 45 motherf***ing minutes. Thankfully, it was an abnormally warm winter day with the sun high in the sky and the temperatures punching above zero. It was the type of day where it felt so good to walk up and down the street and turn your face to the sun and think “yes, life is good.” Though the wait was arduous – I was famished after all – I was quick to forgive. By the time I’d made my way through the starters and was digging through my hearty soup (face completely lost in a bowlful of rucola, spring onion and…but of course…those noodles) I’d long forgotten about the wait that came before the ramen. I mean, how could one not forgive and forget under such circumstances?
There’s nothing else to do when you get noodles that good.
552 Vanderbilt Avenue
Brooklyn, New York
Tel: +1 (718) 576-6701 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Open everyday from 12:oo – 15:00 and 17:30 – 22:00 (open until 23:00 Thursday thru Saturday).