Delicious Food at Mu Ramen

by Meg Cotner on January 10, 2014


The other day I decided it was time to check out Mu Ramen, a pop-up ramen spot in Long Island City, Queens, so I met a friend there Wednesday night. By day the space is Bricktown Bagels, and at night on Tuesdays through Saturdays it transforms into an intimate ramen joint. They serve a couple kinds of ramen, a couple kinds of buns, a few appetizers. The menu is simple and the food is amazing.


The folks behind this venture, Joshua Smookler and Heidy He, started things up a couple of months ago. Joshua Smookler, who has worked at places such as Per Se and Nobu, starts working on the food each evening around 5 p.m., and they start taking reservations after 6 p.m. There are only 14 seats available, and they fill up pretty fast; we hear the busy time is between 7 and 9 p.m each night. I was happy to be there at 6:30.


We started with the short rib buns, which were meaty, rich, and delicious. The short ribs almost melt in your mouth they are so tender, and they come in a perfectly puffy bao topped with spicy fermented cabbage and some spicy mayo, their tang cutting through the richness of the meat. FYI, I am a sucker for spicy mayo. Two buns come to an order, so they are easy to share with a friend. That said, next time I think I’m going to order a pair just for myself (and maybe an order of the pork belly buns, too).


I decided to order the Spicy Miso ramen and my friend ordered the Tonkotsu 2.0 ramen. I was especially attracted to the thicker, chewier noodles in the Spicy Miso ramen, vs the thinner noodles in the Tonkotsu. My bowl came with a wonderfully rich and slightly spicy broth containing the aforementioned thicker noodles, ground pork, menma (bamboo), roasted corn, scallion, and a slice of fish cake on top. The heat comes from chili oil. I’ve been having some issues with spicy food lately, but this didn’t set anything off; I felt good and nourished throughout the meal.

Part of why this ramen is so nourishing is because of the broth, which is made from pounds and pounds of marrow-rich pork bones. Here’s how they describe it:

Up to 100 lbs of pork bones are boiled in a 24inch diameter pot at the highest heat for more than 20 hours. Each bowl of our ramen is extracted from about 24oz of the pork marrow bone. Time, no MSG and great effort are the key ingredients to Mu Ramen.

This broth is incredibly flavorful and because it is made with these bones and not MSG, I know it’s really good for me. When I left after eating, I felt very satisfied.

I really liked how my ramen broth was pleasantly spicy—nothing extreme. The ground pork was delicious in it, and I also enjoyed adding some pickled ginger to my bowl. The corn was lovely and sweet, the bamboo tender, the scallions were nice and fresh, and everything came together beautifully. Next time I think I’d add nitamago, a seasoned egg. A neighboring diner ordered it and seemed to enjoy it quite a bit.


The tonkotsu ramen is also made with a pork broth that took on an almost creamy consistency; it was not spicy, but definitely savory. It had different ingredients in it – ton toro (pork jowl), kikurage (pork belly), menma (bamboo), and scallions, topped with a slice of fish cake. Can I just say, I love the look of the fish cake. It’s so friendly! And delicious. In the photo above you can see the big piece of pork floating in the bowl. My friend also loved the thinner noodles.

One of our neighbors ordered the U & I appetizer, one of the more popular apps. It’s made with uni, spicy tuna, ikura (fish roe), roasted nori, real wasabi, sesame, and sushi rice. I am sure this is also a tasty and nutrient dense dish, but because I don’t care for uni, I skipped this.

Right now they are BYOB, but a nearby bodega a block away sells Sapporo 22 oz cans for $3.50. I opted for water, which was just right for me. I might consider beer next time.

Our meal for two came to $50 with tax and tip, meaning it was $25 each for a fantastic, satisfying, and delicious meal. Let me tell you, I can’t wait for my next visit to Mu Ramen!

Mu Ramen pop-up at Bricktown Bagels, 51-06 Vernon Blvd, Long Island City, NY 11101,

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