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Yebisu, Zuzu, Chuko, Dassara, and Yuji ramen serve Brooklyn’s most creative ramen

A few good ramen: The top five places to get creative ramen dishes

for The Brooklyn Paper

Sweater weather is noodle-slurping season — and with ramen shops popping up across the borough, Japan’s comfort food is the perfect cure for the cold.

And those looking to shake things up with some truly untraditional takes on the stuff that kept them full in college need look no further than Brooklyn, where bold and bizarre takes on the tried-and-true noodle soup are the borough standard.

In a sea of worthy choices, here are our five absolute favorite places to shovel unique varieties of ramen into our mouths.

Break out the nice chopsticks:

5. Ramen Yebisu

One of the biggest surprises of the summer was that a consistently great ramen noodle joint should open in Williamsburg’s Northside. Enter Yebisu Ramen, a Sapporo–syle ramen joint that features “nama-men,” a ramen soup made with home-made, extremely fresh unheated noodles that are fermented for forty-eight hours rather than boiled. The result locks a wonderfully uncanny flavor into them that’s unparalleled by anything else in the city. Particularly good is the Yebisu house ramen, which features seafood broth, prawns, snow crabs, mussels, scallops, scallions, and seaweed.

[126 N Sixth St. between Berry Street and Bedford Avenue, (718) 782–1444].

4. Zuzu Ramen

Vegetarians who miss the stuff that used to warm them up during less discerning days can find help quelling the hunger at Zuzu Ramen, which holds the honor of the best vegetarian ramen in the city. Rather than relying on cooking pork bones down for days at a time to flavor their broth, the garlic soy ramen features roasted garlic, bok choy, a slow-cooked egg, and a veggie broth flavored with soy sauce and seasonal vegetables.

[173 Fourth Ave. at Degraw street, (718) 398-9898].

3. Chuko Ramen

All that slurping — slurping being the only way to eat ramen — can get a little heavy on the stomach and a little intense on the tongue. Though Chuko’s ramen may not be extraordinarily unique in terms of its ingredients and execution, it’s hard to overlook the other fixings that come with the meal. For a balanced meal, ramen-lovers can pair the standard pork bone, scallion, egg, and mustard green ramen with an extraordinarily unique take on a kale salad tossed with sweet potato, raisins, and miso. Moving back and forth between the freshness and lightness of the salad and the intense, rich flavor profile of the ramen will give loud ramen eaters an experience they can sigh about.

[552 Vanderbilt Ave. at Dean Street, (718) 576–6701]

2. Dassara Brooklyn Ramen

This new Carroll Gardens joint has been garnering a lot of attention since it opened up earlier this year, and for very good reason. Of all the ramen on this list, theirs boasts the clearest, most enviable hypothesis for what it means to open up a noodle joint in Brooklyn.

Their “deli ramen” marries nostalgia and cerebral experimentalism so perfectly it’s obvious that the chefs are on to something special. It’s a chicken broth-based soup served with celery, matzo balls, locally-sourced smoked meats, and a poached egg. It won’t taste like any other ramen (maybe a high-end take on the stuff that came in packets), but it will evoke every single nourishing comfort food from grandma.

[271 Smith St. between Degraw and Sackett streets, (718) 643–0781]

1. Yuji Ramen

Hail to the absolute, undisputed king of Brooklyn’s off-beat ramen. Yuji Haraguchi is a modest man who is always excited to see customers stop by his Smorgasburg noodle stand. Since Yuji Ramen slinked away from its slightly-more-permanent pop-up spot in Kinfolk Studios, customers have been forced to brave the weekend commute to Williamsburg on Saturday and DUMBO on Sunday to try his mazemen (broth-free) takes on the classic fare.

But there’s nothing classic about Yuji. His ramens have run the gamut from bacon and egg or smoked salmon to summer crab with dash gelee. Yuji Haraguchi is the umami daddy, and his ramen will be unlike anything you’ve ever had in your entire life. The best part of that? The impeccably textured noodles and perfectly executed flavors also happens to come together transcendently. Adventurous eaters must try the squid and tomato paste mazemen, tossed at the last second with squid ink, Japanese seven-spice powder, and toasted garlic chips.

(East River State Park, Kent Avenue, between N. Sixth and N. Seventh streets) Saturdays.

What’s your favorite? Cast a vote, and let us know in the comments if we missed a place.

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Who serves the most creative ramen dish in Brooklyn?

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Matt C. from Greenpoint says:
What about No Name Bar on Manhattan? They serve ramen downstairs at a semi-secret counter, and it's some of the best in the city!
Oct. 4, 2012, 8:34 am
Tim from Carroll Gardens says:
Manhattan of course has an incredible selection of great Ramen places, but Brooklyn has far fewer shops, let alone ones that serve an eclectic menu.

The veggie garlic soy ramen at Zuzu is excellent, and their other creations, like my fave, the Green Curry Miso, are just as funky, rich, and delicious.

I've not been to Yebisu yet, but since it's named after my favorite Japanese beer, it's gotta be great! Thanks for this list.
Oct. 4, 2012, 9:59 am
Stephanie Petagno from Brooklyn says:
Yuji Ramen is vile. They have the absolute rudest, most ignorant staff, badly cooked instant noodles, vile ingredients and generally overpriced. Just horrid.
Oct. 4, 2012, 10:16 am
Freeway from Ellenville says:
No competition, been to them all, Dassara is by far the best...
Oct. 4, 2012, Noon
manhatposeur from brokelandia says:
Good ramen has got to have nice rich fatty pork broth and meat. No to thrilled with the vegan friendly versions. Seafood is the only exception.
I know there are plenty of pork lovers in Brooklyn hiding under the guise of glutten free- "quasi-vegetarian"- organic lovers.
Oct. 4, 2012, 12:36 pm
Dagwoods from SF says:
While in NY, went to Yuji tried their mazemen, was amazed by the flavors and texture. Loved everything about it! Sorry to hear you have some haters in your own neighborhood.....
Oct. 5, 2012, 4:30 am
Eugene Gonzalez from Brooklyn says:
Yes, because anyone who doesn't like something is a hater. Better to have taste than not know what you are talkiing about. Completely agree with the other post, avoid Yuji, terrible service, badly cooked and particularly unhealthy combinations. Of those listed, Dassara is by far the best.
Oct. 5, 2012, 2:07 pm
Sean P. from New Jersey says:
Put me down with the "no to Yuji" campaign. I also find one particular member of staff exceptionally impolite, and their combinations of badly cooked noodles with implausible ingredients - noodles, bacon, eggs and strawberries, for example??? - verging on inedible.
Oct. 6, 2012, 12:06 pm
Michael from Greenpoint says:
I personally liked Yebisu and Yuji ramen, more authentic. Yebisu just opened their restaurant on N6, stoked!
Oct. 8, 2012, 11:06 pm
Jeff Jetton from Crown Heights says:
sounds like a competitor
Oct. 10, 2012, 1:15 am
Luke Davin from Queens says:
There's absolutely nothing remotely authentic about Yuji. Bacon, Eggs and Strawberries, anyone?
Oct. 14, 2012, 4:28 pm
Aaron from Shirley says:
That's odd Luke, seeing as you are the member of staff at Yuji with a conviction for beating up your ex-girlfriend, Stephanie Petagno. Who quite rightly sets about you online. What a nob. Please people, avoid Yuji Ramen.
Dec. 29, 2012, 9:39 am
Stephanie Petagno from California says:
That's correct Aaron. Luke Davin did beat me up, and I know for a fact I'm not the first. People, please don't go to Yuji Ramen.
Jan. 5, 2013, 8:29 am
Grantland Garrison-Reader from East of East Harlem says:
Wow. This Luke Davin character sounds like a nasty piece of work. I'll definitely be avoiding Yuji Ramen. Thanks for warning us, hope everything is peaceful, Stephanie.
Jan. 6, 2013, 4:30 am
Henry Chopsticks from Brooklyn says:
Wow. This thread took a turn for the queer. What a prick this Luke Davin guy is.
Jan. 7, 2013, 12:41 pm
Serena from Williamsburg says:
LUKE DAVIN DOES NOT WORK FOR YUJI RAMEN. THIS IS ABOUT THE FOOD AND NOT ABOUT AN EX EMPLOYEE. LEAVE YUJI OUT OF THIS FOR NOT KNOWING AND YOU PEOPLE NEED TO STOP HARASSING YUJI.

HIS FOOD IS EXPERIMENTAL AND GREAT> HE IS A FRIENDLY JAPANESE MAN.

LUKE DAVIN WILL GET HIS BUT LEAVE YUJI OUT
Jan. 8, 2013, 9:11 am
Aaron from Shirley says:
So they sacked him? Good if true. A good employer should know these things about their employees. Thanks for letting us know, Serena.
Jan. 10, 2013, 8:12 am
Serena from Williamsburg says:
Yes Aaron, ask anyone around. Yuji has a cute little Japanese girl working with/for him!

His food is great. Not instant ramen at all. I know he gets his ramen from Sun Noodle. Its great and fresh. I watched them make it!
Jan. 11, 2013, 2:54 pm
Aiden Wylie from Inverness says:
Just wanted to apologize for slandering Luke Davin. I've never tasted his or Yuji's food. I was just upset that he is in a relationship with a girl I fancy and can't get over despite also defaming her on the internet every chance I get. The contrived comment conversation above is quite obviously my own transparent attempt at trolling.
Jan. 11, 2013, 3 pm
Stephanie Petagno from Santa Clarita says:
Low blow Luke.

You know what you did, you ——.
Jan. 14, 2013, 7:34 am
Spiiicy from Ditty Park says:
yikes - after reading the comments i've unwittingly learned more about Luke Danvin and Stephanie Petagno's bitter feud and less about Yuji's Ramen.

listen, it sucks that it didn't work out for you both, but if you want to fling passive agressive slander at each other, please do it in a more appropriate place like on a restraining order or Twitter. it doesn't belong here, and Yuji is getting hit in the crossfire.
March 27, 2013, 6:12 pm

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