I am excited as hell on The Braised Shop. It’s a tiny restaurant hiding at the tail end of St. Marks that specializes in Taiwanese braised bowls. In Taiwan, it’s traditional street food. In New York, you can group it in with the brick-and-mortar fast-casual build-your-bowl places. But it definitely stands out from the rest due to it’s authenticity. While still delicious, most build-your-bowl places are not authentic to their cuisines in the way that The Braised Shop is (I’m looking at you, Chipotle). The Braised Shop beautifully marries the authenticity of Taiwanese street food with what you’d expect from a modern fast-casual spot in the East Village.
Walking in, you’re almost surprised at how small it is. With only two tables, the space is smaller than most ice cream shops. Luckily, it’s a surprisingly portable meal that you can take to-go and eat somewhere nearby if it’s busy. You order by circling meats, veggies, and noodles on a clipboard menu. They braise your selections, and pack all the goods into a tall soup bowl.
The food is fantastic. Everything is perfectly cooked and has a rich spiced-soy flavor. In Chinese, we call this “lu wei”, which directly translates to “braised flavor”. Everything is braised in the same liquid, but there are still very distinct flavors and textures in all of the ingredients. Make sure to try the beef shank and oyster mushrooms! So tender! If you like fatty meat, the pork belly is great too. At the counter, there’s a self-service tubs of minced garlic, green onion, and chili oil, where you can find me dumping obscene amounts of garlic into my bowl.
(look at how much meat they give you!)
The Braised Shop is something I haven’t been able to stop thinking about since I went for the first time last week. So much so that I went very far out of my way to get it a second time a week later. I’m still looking forward to going back next time I’m in the East Village. Make sure to give The Braised Shop a try next time you’re in the area!
I’ll just come right out and say that Chuko is now my favorite ramen spot of all time. I’ve tried a bunch of famous ramen spots all over the U.S and Japan, and Chuko takes the cake. I won’t get into arguments of whether it’s the best ramen or not, but it’s made it to the #1 spot on my ramen list. I’m telling you, it’s worth a shot.
The Food 5/5
The menu is small and simple, and you will inevitably want to order EVERYTHING. I’ve been to Chuko twice now, and here’s everything I’ve tried (I’m already thinking about what I’ll be ordering next time):
Miso ramen with spicy ground pork [My most favorite]
Soy ramen with egg and chashu [2nd favorite]
Kimchi ramen [This was my least favorite, but it’s still really good]
Spicy pickles [If you like spicy pickles, these are a must]
Kale salad [Probably the best kale salad I’ve ever had]
Soy Chili Wings [These were amazing, and for the quality of wing, very fairly priced. I mean 6 wings anywhere these days is close to $10]
Every bowl is fantastic, so I don’t think you can go wrong here. If you want to stick to something classic, go for the soy. I really love the miso, but my girlfriend thought it was too butternut-squashy. The spicy ground pork is a really awesome, and something that isn’t as common as it should be. I know the appetizers are expensive, but try to order at least one because they’re really fucking good. If you’re going to order just one, I’d go for either the kale salad or the soy chili wings. The kale salad had a tangy miso dressing, some sort of crunchy potato stuff, and white raisins. Legit one of the best kale salads I’ve ever had!
The Experience 5/5
My favorite thing about the staff at Chuko was that they all seemed like friends. It’s always a better experience seeing the staff joke around with each other and have fun with service. They were all really friendly, professional, and attentive.
They play great music, so I asked our server what song was on. She was so excited I asked about it because it was her playlist and she even wrote down a list of artists for me to check out!
They give you some really high quality napkins.
They use one of the text call back systems so you can wander around
While not exactly cheap, Chuko isn’t expensive when compared to other ramen shops. It sits at a very average price, and for how good the bowls are, they are well deserving of the price. $14-16 bowls. The appetizers are definitely pricey at $10 each, but they’re all pretty amazing and well worth it.
Chuko is my new favorite ramen joint. It’s near Barclays center, the food is bomb, service is great, and you have fun when you’re there.
Side note: If you go to Chuko and have room for desert, swing by The Chocolate Room and grab a slice of their almond cake. It’s to die for.