Solid Bowls of Ramen & Other Japanese Pub Food near Port Authority at Tabata Ramen

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Hell’s Kitchen, well not really. That chunk of New York City on 9th Ave. between 34th and 42nd tucked away behind Penn Station and Port Authority. It remains one of the seediest corners of the city even after the much publicized Giuliani and Bloomberg crackdowns on the lesser loved aspects of NYC. It’s not often that I find myself in that god-forsaken corner of town, but since I was there, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to check out the ramen and other Japanese pub food at the nearby Tabata Ramen outpost.

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Excellent Fried Chicken and Ramen at Maru Ichi in Mountain View
Excellent Fried Chicken and Ramen at Maru Ichi in Mountain View, CA

Excellent Fried Chicken and Ramen at Maru Ichi in Mountain View

By this point I think I’ve proven that I’m passionate about ramen. My time in NYC has given me plenty of opportunities to learn what I love and what makes a great bowl. So now that I’m spending most of my time in Silicon Valley, there’s no reason not to hunt for that perfect bowl out here as well.

Since I’m working in Sunnyvale and Mountain View is a short eight minute drive from the office, that always seems like an obvious and easy choice for a post-work meal. Feeling a bit ill and in need of a great bowl of curative soup, I decided to find a good ramen joint in town. After a bit of research, I decided on a shop called Maru Ichi which sounded like it would serve exactly what I needed.

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Great Silicon Valley Izakaya Open Late at En Japanese Tapas in Santa Clara

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One of the biggest takeaways I’ve gotten from all of this time I’ve been spending in Silicon Valley is that everything in California closes early. Offices become ghost towns at 6:00. Most Happy Hours end at 6:00, maybe 7:00 if you’re lucky. Bars stop serving at 1:30 AM and worst of all, most restaurant kitchens close at 9:00. If you end up working late ’til say 9:00 or later you’re pretty much screwed when it comes to getting a decent dinner.

In all of my digging, I have thankfully found a few places that keep their kitchen open ’til around 10:00. But there is one place I’ve found in Santa Clara for quality late night dining called En Japanese Tapas Restaurant where the kitchen stays open until a glorious 11:30 PM.

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Seriously Soothing Soba Noodle Soup at Cocoron in Nolita
Seriously Soothing Soba Noodle Soup at Cocoron in Nolita

Seriously Soothing Soba Noodle Soup at Cocoron in Nolita

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Located on a strange, dirty, vacant segment of town somewhere between NoHo, Nolita, and the Bowery you’ll find the bright, orange signage for Cocoron.

Inside, you’ll find some of the cleanest, most comforting food in NY that’ll leave you feeling fresh and healthy after. Inside is a tiny, bustling shop with two-tops, a communal table, and noodle bar seating. Despite the rapid turnover in the shop it’s still quite a nice experience that would be good enough to work as a casual, low-key date night or a cheap eats cold-weather lunch.

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A New Ramen Contender in the West Village at Ramen Ya

For some reason, the East Village has like 30 ramen joints and the West Village has almost none. With that being said, when a new place opens up in the neighborhood, I get excited. One day, while walking up West 4th Street I noticed the spot that had once housed a nice sushi restaurant had closed and reopened as a ramen shop called Ramen Ya. I knew I’d have to check it out to see how it ranked within the competitive NYC ramen landscape.

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Mike Winston’s Best Bites of 2013

Given the number of insanely delicious things I’ve eaten over the past year, selecting the best of the bunch is a very difficult task. Over on Foodspotting I’ve released a long version that’s over 200 items long which includes every single dish jaw-dropping dish from the last year. Here, instead, I’ve chosen the very best in select categories. In no particular order, let’s begin!
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Bohemian: Secret Door, Secret Phone Number, Japanese Speakeasy
A Japanese Speakeasy Date Night Restaurant at Bohemian

Bohemian: Secret Door, Secret Phone Number, Japanese Speakeasy

I’m gonna let you in on one of New York’s best-hidden secrets. Located in the NoHo area, there’s an unmarked, members-only restaurant that doesn’t even list its phone number publicly. Even if you can manage to get your hands on Bohemian‘s phone number you’ll still need a referral to land a reservation. Seriously, when I called, the first question I was confronted with was “How did you get this number?” However, once you’ve breached their defenses and joined the ranks of their inner circle, you’ll be treated to one of the most interesting, sexy, refined meals you can find in NYC.

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The Best Asian Noodle Soups in Manhattan

Now that the weather is cooling off and Winter Is Coming, I find myself craving a huge, bowl of steaming hot noodle soup. As a lover of all Asian foods, more often than not, when I want soup I go for one of the many Asian varieties. Whether it’s hand-pulled, knife cut, needle noodles, ramen, pho, soba, udon, wonton, or something else there’s a huge variety of flavors and textures you can have when it comes to Asian noodles soups. The following is a list of the places I’d go if it’s feeling dreary outside and I’m in the mood for a comforting bowl of Asian noodle soup.

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Savory & Sweet Japanese Crepes at Eight Turn Crêpe in NYC
Eight Turn Crêpe Review

Savory & Sweet Japanese Crepes at Eight Turn Crêpe in NYC

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If you’re in SoHo, perhaps shopping, where do you stop for a quick, easy lunch? There’s plenty of trendy, pricey sit-down cafes in the neighborhood, but you have to look a little harder to find something fast, casual, and actually good. I had heard about a great new Harajuku style Japanese crêperie in the area and knew I had to check it out. Do I sense a Harajuku mini-trend happening in NYC?

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Japanese Comfort Food Served in Frilly Pink Maid Dresses at Maid Cafe NYC

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You ever have one of those days where you can’t decide where to eat? This was one of those. My coworker Harrison was heading towards Chinatown for lunch at Mika and I decided to come along for the walk and pick my lunch destination along the way. We made it all the way to the Mika stairwell on the ground floor of 150 Centre street before I spotted something I had never seen before. A brand new cafe. And the girls behind the counter are dressed in pink maid outfits! What kind of perversion have I stumbled upon? At that moment I blurted out loud to Harrison “Where am I?” I just had to give it a shot if for no reason other than sheer morbid curiosity.

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