Name: Zen 6
Address: 328 E 6th Street, New York, NY 10003
Cuisine: Japanese Ramen Shop
Cost: Mid-range (~$12 for a bowl of ramen)
Recommendation: The prices are competitive, but the big draw is location. It's close to Greenwich Village and NYU, but it's just off from the main traffic just enough that there is always space there. Good backup ramen shop choice.
So last week I was with a bunch of friends late out in the night and was looking for some ramen in the area. We should have known better, as many of the ramen shops were crowded and I was in a state of panic as I was the one that suggested ramen. Luckily, we found Zen 6 nearby and to our delight, there was plenty of room. At the same time, I was somewhat wary. We all know empty restaurant = bad food. I was happy to be proven wrong (mostly).
I am strangely amused by their shapes...A personal custom I always follow when visiting a ramen shop for the first time is to order a plate of pork bun. I don't recall when or why I started doing this, but I do it. I was disappointed this time. Usually the buns have some small bits of greens in there. There was iceberg lettuce and they were soggy, and we know what soggy leaves do to buns. Their sauce mixture was also pretty bad. Usually the sauce is a dab of spicy mayo, which I do enjoy and was present. What was really annoying was the presence of a large glob of Hoi Sen Sauce (seafood sauce) that completely overwhelmed the taste of everything. And the final problem, the meat. I was expecting a soft piece of meat that melts in your mouth. Instead, I got a rough piece of pork. This made me very disappointed and nervous about my ramen.
JFC (Japnese Fried Chicken)We picked up a small plate of Kar-age and it wasn't anything special. The chicken was tender and juicy with the batter done light and right. It was good, but nothing that stood out.
Hello main course...So here we have it. Again, always on my first trip to a new ramen shop, I select a basic ramen with the tonkotsu broth as my standard to compare. The broth as definitely a little weird for me. It's thick and cream, but it seemed to lack of bit of flavor, like someone forgot to add salt in there. The noodles were springy, but nothing too out of the ordinary. Their pork though, color me impressed, but I think this is the best cut I've had in awhile. It had a great ratio of fat-to-meat and the meat just melts in your mouth. Definitely the opposite of the pork I had in the bun earlier. It's unfortunate there was only one piece, but with that kind of quality and price, I' not surprised.
Overall, I'm lukewarm with Zen 6. There's a lot of other great ramen shops in the area and those beats this place out in many areas. It's by no means a bad place, but for what it is, I would select one of the other shops nearby. But if all the other shops are filled up, you're almost guaranteed to have a spot here and the food here is good enough that you can go here. Just avoid the pork buns...