Earlier today, The Lonely Planet named Queens its top destination in the U.S. for 2015.
The choice surprised a lot of people, some who still see the borough as Brooklyn's divorced uncle, the one who's been bald since he was 29 and whose idea of a big night is a trip to the AMC Loews to see the latest Kevin James banger. Those people are wrong. Just ask the editors of The Lonely Planet. But also, ask Joshua Smookler and his wife Heidy He, who just opened Mu Ramen—also known as the most talked about restaurant in New York—in Long Island City, Queens.
The story goes like this: After honing his skills at the best restaurant in New York aka Per Se, Smookler and He opened Mu Ramen as a pop-up, late-night joint at LIC's Bricktown Bagels. Back then, they served two different ramens, the spicy miso and Tonkotsu 2.0. For those in the know, the ramens, which each contained 24 ounces of pork-marrow bone and comprised ingredients like chashu pork jowl, kikurage, and menma, stood up with the best this ramen-crazed town had to offer. Then, last March, New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells dropped his list of the ten best ramen spots in the city, with Mu simmering at the top.
But as soon as Mu was set to blow, its owners abruptly cancelled all existing reservations and told customers that a full-service brick and mortar restaurant was on the horizon. So they waited. And waited. In the meantime, Ivan Ramen opened and quickly became New York's must-try noodle bowl, while Smookler and He did battle with their Con Ed overlords to get the gas necessary to fire up their burners.
Finally, at the beginning of December, Mu Ramen opened its doors and early reports say that not only is the newly expanded menu all killer no filler, but that predictably, broth-thirsty customers have been waiting hours for a table. (Welcome to New York.) Some of the new menu items include deep-fried chicken wings stuffed with foie gras, Alaskan cod tempura, and two new bowls of ramen on top of the original two. Grub Street is trafficking some Mu Ramen food porn if you're curious, but we suggest heading there yourself and taking full advantage of the fact that it is winter. And if you're worried about the wait, good news: Mu Ramen just started taking same-day reservations. Slurp on.
Photo courtesy of Mu Ramen's Instagram.