On a rainy Saturday afternoon, while craving a warm meal, we stumbled upon Jun-Men Ramen Bar. It was a great idea running into a soup place to get out of the cold, but Jun-Men is more than just a noodle shop. It is a fun mix of barbeque, broth, and chilled fish that offers treats for both the peckish and famished.
Opened about 6 months ago and headed by Korean-born executive chef Jun Park (Jean-George/Catch) and his wife BoMee Chu, Jun-Men Ramen Bar is a well lit, cozy, little corner of a restaurant with two bars at which to sit, a few more intimate two-tops, and a community table in the center of the room. That’s it. Nothing fancy or emotional. Just a place to enjoy your meal. What this restaurant lacks in leg room, it makes up for in charm. A warm, smoky aroma fills the space and the staff is genuinely friendly and welcoming.
What I know about Ramen is only about enough to fill a soup bowl, but our server was gracious enough to explain the menu to us and point out her favorites. On her recommendation, we chose to begin with the Shiitake Bun, which held a deep fried mushroom, cilantro, and mayonnaise. It was light and fluffy on the outside and tangy and crispy on the inside, and the perfect way to start off our lunch. I also enjoyed the tender and sweet pork bun. Alternatively offered as “bites,” are Fried Sweet Potatoes, an attractive Tuna Poke, and Double Fried Chicken Wings, which, according to the group of gentlemen enjoying them next to me were “very tasty.”
Jun-Men, which translates to “pure noodle,” offers four different types of ramen, including spicy miso, kimchi, and uni mushroom. We opted for the more traditional Pork Bone Ramen, with chashu, kikurage, menma, egg, scallion and black oil. It was delightful, and is served mild or spicy. The broth was well balanced and the pork melted in my mouth. There was an ample portion of noodles as well, though I did wish I had ordered extra for $2 more. You can also order a bonus egg (which has always been my favorite part of the meal and was just right in the yolk) for the same $2 surcharge.
There is a modest selection of beer and sake to choose from and they offer a sake-tail of Ginger-Lime or Lychee-Cucumber for a very reasonable $8. If you are craving a sweet ending to your meal, Jun-Men offers two Green Tea Desserts: a cheesecake and a creme brulee.
Lunch for two with a shared appetizer and a bowl of ramen each came to about $45, which is beginning to seem reasonable for a sit down meal in Chelsea.
Jun-Men Ramen Bar is located at 249 Ninth Avenue, between 25th and 26th streets in Chelsea. Check out their webpage at http://junmenramen.com for more info.