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Pete Wells Finds a Potential New ‘Classic New York Dish’ at Ramen Shop Niche

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He’s especially enamored by the “novel, straightforward, refined, unruly, and impure of heart” steak mazemen

Chef Shigetoshi Nakamura prepares ribeye mazemen at Niche
Chef Shigetoshi Nakamura prepares ribeye mazemen
Carla Vianna/Eater

Times critic Pete Wells is pleased that mazemen ramen — a brothless style — is finally getting its due in New York City at Niche on the Lower East Side, the subject of his one-star review today.

At Niche, chef Shigetoshi Nakamura is especially on to something with his “novel, straightforward, refined, unruly, and impure of heart” steak mazemen, which mixes in a “pork sauce,” spinach, and fermented bamboo — and “has the makings of a classic New York dish,” Wells writes. He’s also stunned by duck and foie gras specials:

So does the duck, a common special. A sliced breast of moulard duck cooked to a deep violet-pink, it is served with a bright, focused sauce built on soy and enough warm duck juices to lubricate the whole-wheat noodles. It is not an austere dish by any means, but it is balanced and restrained.

The same cannot be said for another special that is always offered on the same nights: a bowl of liquefied foie gras topped with pistachios and truffle oil. It is not clear what will happen to anyone who tries to eat this with a spoon, but the prognosis does not seem good. Instead, everybody orders it with the duck mazemen and dips the noodles into the foie gras, after which conscious thought tends to stop for a minute or two. When cerebral activity resumes, you might wonder why the sauce doesn’t come with its own noodles.

Wells also enjoys the Italian and smoked salmon options, though not quite as much. He finds some fault in a “strange and awkward” sea urchin toast, but could not stop eating the “umami kombu fries.” One star.


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