After trying Ippudo we had to try the other well known Manhattan ramen spot, Minca. Shigeto Kamada actually taught himself how to replicate the ramen he loved so much while he was in Asahikawa and Sapporo. When you walk down 5th Street, the block looks a bit deserted so we didn’t exactly know what we were getting ourselves into. The restaurant itself is very small with about 2 four top tables and one larger table that seats about 6. However, there are a bit more seats around the bar and windows which helps the flow of the traffic. Usually there is a wait to be seated at Minca due to the size but we suggest going during lunch time since there usually isn’t a long wait. We actually suggest sitting by the bar/kitchen as you get to watch the chefs prepare the ramen which is actually a very interesting process. [Photo via]
The menu consists of mainly ramen dishes with a few appetizers at the top. First you can select which broth you want (Pork, Miso, Chicken, Seafood or a combination) and then you can select which noodles you want (thin, thick, Wavy wheat Noodle, Whole Wheat noodle or Bean noodle ). Minca helps out those less familiar with ramen by putting a recommended noddle next to each dish. We ordered the Minca Sio and the Pork Gyozas. Since we visited Ippudo only a few days before, we wanted to order a similar type of ramen to the one we had there so we could compare both restaurants. The Gyozas were very light and had a lot of flavor. There were six in an order which made it well worth the $5.25 that Minca charges. The Minca Sio combines the chicken and pork broth and uses thin noodles. There is a soy sauce flavored version called Minca but we felt the Minca Sio was more like what we ordered at Ippudo. Our favorite part of the ramen dish was easily the Pork Charshu. The chef actually uses a mini blow torch to perfectly cook the pork. Not only do the thick pieces of pork add an almost buttery flavor to the dish, but the meat is so tender that it’s often hard to even use chopsticks to eat it. The ramen noodles are also cooked well and we did enjoy the salt and garlic flavor of the broth. The dish is also generously portioned for only $10.25.
We actually liked Minca so much that we went two days after for the same thing. Minca is much more personalized and traditional than larger restaurants such as Momofuku and Ippudo which we like. The atmosphere at Minca is perfect for a date or even a quick lunch with a friend and the food is inexpensive and very good.