All summer I’d been hearing tell of the glories that awaited me inside Momi Ramen, which opened for its first season on the East End in June. I was not disappointed. Momi is part of a chainlet—the other Momi is in Miami and is famous for its ramen.
Don’t just take my word for it, though. Follow the ancient Japanese proverb that translates to, “Run, don’t walk, to Momi Ramen in East Hampton, one of the best restaurants on the East End!”
My husband and I feasted on fabu dishes—there was not one disappointment in the lot. Knowing that ramen is all about the tonkotsu (pork and bone marrow) broth, I ordered the Veggie Ramen for my entrée. Not to be confused with Momi’s two vegan ramen entrées, the Veggie Ramen features that famous broth over housemade noodles, carrots, shitake mushrooms, bamboo shoots and crisp-tender cabbage, with half a soy-enriched soft-boiled egg floating on top. My first bite was one of those gloriously umami-rich mushrooms. Wow.
Husband’s main dish was the Tan Tan Ramen, which features the same basic ramen ingredients with the notable addition of garlic and pepper marinated minced pork. That pork is magic. Somehow, cut into tiny pieces it’s about a thousand times tastier than any pork chop. Husband was so full he let me finish his amazing, hot-porky broth.
Of course we worked up to these main delights with appetizers including: Tofu Salad—a creamy, chilled loaf of soft tofu dappled with sesame seeds and served on a bed of delicate wakame seaweed, topped with yuzu dressing; Shishito Peppers simply—and expertly—prepared with sea salt and lemon. Owner/manager Anita Chen was delighted when I commented that these shishitos were not rubbery like so many in other restaurants. She runs a tight ship, insisting on doing everything the right way. Next season Momi will even start making its own tofu. Husband also sampled the Buta Kimchi appetizer of sautéed pork belly with spicy napa cabbage, radish and onions. He said he liked it because he likes kimchi.
This restaurant doesn’t have a kids menu per se. Chen pointed out that children’s favorite dishes include the Fried Ramen, the Just Ramen in tonkotsu broth and the Gyoza, which are pan-fried pork and vegetable dumplings, served with housemade dipping sauce. It looks like they were a real hit with the “small fry.” When we dined at Momi, about half the crowd was families with young children.
The first dining room could be great for a big party—with its long communal tables and big-screen television. The inner dining room is smaller and features smaller tables. So balanced. Even the two bathrooms at Momi Ramen are in line. I told Husband to be sure to look at the ceiling when he used the bathroom (there is a funky-cool constellation of implements up there painted lucky red)—but he happened to use the bathroom that I had not, and commented that his had a nice floor. The only off note may have been the surprisingly noisy banquette—in that it made the same loud sounds when I first sat down as it did when I got up to leave!
Did I mention the hot sake? I found that I had written “Hot Sake!” twice in my notes about the meal. In fact, once it was written in all caps. I guess I wrote this iteration after it had arrived at table. Hot sake cures all. Served from a glass beaker into tiny ceramic cups the color of ginkgo berries, it takes the autumnal chill right out of the air and coats the inside of your body with warmth as thoroughly as white on rice.
Seeking balance in all things, Husband also ordered a cool Basil Gin and Tonic featuring Hendrick’s Gin. Husband claimed he was too full for dessert—so I ordered the Red Bean Ice Cream Sandwich to share and I am so glad that I did! Frozen just so and covered with two spongy pancakes, it was, as we said in unison, “Wow, really good!”
Momi Ramen, 221 Pantigo Road, East Hampton, 631-324-1678, momihamptons.com.