Kitakata Ramen Ban Nai recently opened on Manhattan’s Upper West Side serving Kitakata style ramen. They have 57 locations in Japan but can trace their history back to 1958 and Ban Nai Shokudo in Kitakata city. Kitakata style ramen noodles are thick, flat, and curly, with a high water content and, along with Sapporo ramen and Hakata ramen, are one of Japan’s three major ramen noodle styles. Kitakata Ramen Ban Nai serves miso and shio pork bone broths which are very light in color and flavor. Since it was my first time, I tried the Kitakata Ramen with added boiled Napa cabbage, which I enjoyed but I prefer the richer, thicker Tonkutsu broths. Next time, I will need to try the Chashu Ramen, which is a pork bomb that comes with 13 pieces of Chashu pork.
The Dumplings: Pork gyoza are an obligatory item on a NYC ramen bar’s menu, but are usually frozen corporate food service dumplings that are an after thought for the Chef. However, Kitakata Ramen Ban Nai seems to take it’s gyoza seriously. The pork filling actually tasted like pork, really good, well seasoned pork, and the gyoza were expertly seared on the bottom and then finished with steam. Then taking it to 11, the gyoza came with a small dab of Yuzu paste to be mixed with soy sauce and sesame oil, to make a customized dipping sauce. I love the flavor of Yuzu paste, which is made of chili peppers, yuzu peel and salt, which is then allowed to ferment, and has a spicy, citrus grapefruit flavor with a layer of salty anchovy or fish sauce flavor funk. I will return to Kitakata Ramen Ban Nai purely on the strength of its gyoza.
Location: Kitakata Ramen Ban Nai is located on Amsterdam ave between 72nd and 73rd streets in Manhattan’s Upper West Side neighborhood.