Author's note: Apparently I wrote this well over a year ago...and forgot to post it?
Mu Ramen started as a pop-up concept before opening a permanent brick-and-mortar space in Long Island City, Queens. The restaurant boasts exactly 22 seats. Parties of four or less can make day-of reservations by calling the restaurant starting at 3 p.m., but they're extremely hard to get. A better strategy (and the one I employed) was to get to the restaurant early, like 15-20 minutes before dinner starts.
So, my husband and I get to Mu Ramen at 5:15 (the restaurant opens for dinner service at 5:30) on a Friday evening, and we are 15th and 16th in line. Since some of the seats may be set aside for guests with reservations, we weren't certain if we were going to make the first seating. By the time the doors opened (right at 5:30), there were another 25 or so diners in line behind us. The host took our names, told us that we'd be seated around 6:00 p.m. and offered us a seat on one of the benches in the waiting area at the front of the restaurant.
We were seated at the one large communal table (there are also six seats at the bar), at about 5:55 p.m. I think Mu Ramen staggers their seating in order to make service flow easier as the night goes on.
I ordered the Tonkotsu 2.0 ramen (of course). The price was a bit steep at $15 a bowl (plus some extra to add egg, more on that below).
Broth - The ramen was served with black garlic oil over the top. Even after I mixed the oil into the soup, it still felt greasy. The flavor was also a little flat, like it was missing something. It didn't have the depth of flavor that I really appreciate in a good bowl of tonkotsu.
Pork - The pork was rich and unctuous; it was probably the best part of the dish.
Noodles - These were some of the thinnest ramen noodles I've been served, but they had a lovely texture and a nice chew.
Egg (+$2) - For my two bucks, I got a whole, soft boiled, seasoned egg (2 halves). They were perfectly cooked, and I enjoyed the texture a lot. I wish they had seasoned the egg a touch more, but that was my only complaint.
Extras included bamboo, scallions, mushrooms, radish
Service was comprehensive, but speedy. While our server took the time to answer all of our questions and explained the menu in great detail, I couldn't help but get the feeling that table turnover is critical to this restaurant running efficiently. This is not the place where you sit and linger over coffee and dessert (I don't even think they serve dessert; we definitely weren't offered any). You order, eat and get the heck out of the way so someone else can come in and take your seat.
On a side note, the appetizers were way more interesting than the ramen. The foie gras and brioche stuffed fried chicken wings almost tasted like Thanksgiving dinner, and the char on the edamame offered great texture and flavor.
Also, Mu Ramen is cash only and doesn't offer takeout or to-go service. You can't take food you don't finish with you, so plan and order accordingly. (Author's Note: They now accept credit cards)
Final Verdict - Good service and tasty pork doesn't outweigh a 45-minute wait, hefty price tag and lackluster broth. I'd come back if a friend wanted to dine there, but for my money, there's cheaper, better ramen to be found elsewhere.
1209 Jackson Avenue
Long Island City, NY 11101