Translated from Japanese, “chuko” means vintage. For the self-professed “ramen geeks” behind Chuko Ramen in Brooklyn, the word describes their “appreciation of careful selection and innovating with both traditional and novel ingredients.”
So what’s on the menu? Well, not that much. It’s divided into three sections–snacks, bites, and ramen. From the first, you can order spicy pickles, shrimp bun, or steam bun. From the second, you can get crispy Brussels, kale salad, salt and pepper chicken wings, and gyoza. From the third, you can choose between miso, soy, veggie, pork bone, or kimchi ramen. And that’s it! The whole shebang.
You get to decide what kind of meat you want with your ramen, between roasted pork, steamed chicken, or ground pork. If you would like, they do offer suggestions for what pairs best with each kind of broth like roasted pork with the pork bone and ground pork with the kimchi. Those two choices also happened to be what my friend and I ordered when we visited on a Saturday night.
Word to the wise, this place can get busy on weekend nights, so make sure you leave room in your schedule for a wait. We thought about going to a comedy show after dinner but found out the wait for a seat was 45 minutes. Ramen > comedy in our minds, so we waited. The nice thing is that they do take down your number so you can wander around the area, check out those pretty brownstones nearby, or get a snack at Bar Chuko just down the road instead of just lurking around the restaurant, waiting to be one of those happy people inside, slurping their soup.
After hearing all my Brooklynite coworkers go on and on about how much they loved Chuko, I finally understood. I’m a recent ramen convert thanks to Totto Ramen, and now I know that wasn’t a unique experience because I’m now a huge fan of Chuko’s as well. It’s hard for me to describe why I like some ramen better than others. It should be easy seeing as there are just two main components, the broth and the noodles. All I know is that the soup was rich and flavorful while the noodles were just the right texture for me. We were also given some chili oil on the side to add to our soup if we wanted, and after adding a little bit here and a little bit there, I finally dumped it all in because it made the soup that much more delicious. If you’re really into spicy things, I’d recommend the kimchi ramen. I also tried some of my friend’s kimchi ramen, and it didn’t have an overpowering kimchi taste, but it did have a great kick to it.
I’m curious about how the other ramen options stack up to the one I had, and I’ve heard rave reviews about the Brussels sprouts and kale salad…round 2? I’m ready.
Pork bone ramen with roasted pork
552 Vanderbilt Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11238