Our latest ramen quest took us to Bassanova Ramen in Chinatown. Marion and I both kept hearing about it from friends and other people we’d meet, and it seems like Bassanova has carved out a good space for itself in the city’s ramen scene. We ended up going there on a chilly Thursday evening about a week and a half ago and came away quite impressed.
Bassanova definitely gives off a trendy vibe. The first thing that we noticed (and was curious about) was the restaurant’s vaguely nautical theme. The inside consists of derivations of off-white walls with wooden accents that almost look like driftwood. There are life savers on the wall and the large center table that we sat at is adorned with ships in bottles. It’s definitely a unique twist that sets Bassanova apart from other ramen spots in New York City. The restaurant itself is pretty small, with a few small tables along the wall, some counter seats and the aforementioned communal center table. The kitchen is open so you can see the cooks preparing appetizers and dishing out ramen as you wait. The service was friendly and accommodating, although not particularly quick. There were only two people working, a cashier and a server, and it seemed like they could have used a third person to alleviate some of the work. Our first order of appetizers came out burnt and it took them a while to bring out a replacement dish. They were very nice when leftover ramen broth spilled onto Marion’s coat, giving us a discount and even offering to pay for her to have it dry-cleaned.
We started out with an order of the Sizzling Iron Pan Stick Dumplings, which came out in a searing hot skillet. We both thought this was a great dish. The dumplings themselves were large, flat, and full of pork and vegetables. The presentation was excellent as well, neither of us have had dumplings served like this and it was a cool twist on something that is presented uniformly across most ramen shops.
Pan stick dumplings
Our ramen was also very well done. I had the Lemon and Black Pepper Tondaku Ramen and Marion got the Saikyo Miso Ramen, which was a seasonal special. Both bowls were very solid but we agreed that the Lemon and Black Pepper one was a little better. This ramen came with a generous (maybe slightly too many) portion of lemon slices on top to help flavor the broth. The broth itself was a little lighter than I’m used to, but it retained a crispness and depth that was both refreshing and comforting. The taste of lemon and black pepper was present but not overpowering – it balanced out nicely with the meatiness of the soup and the accompanying toppings. While it wasn’t the best bowl of ramen I’ve ever tried, it was unique and bold. Marion’s miso bowl was also good – its broth had a wonderful sweetness and nuttiness to it. The one thing that we both experienced with it was flavor fatigue. After a while, the ramen almost became too sweet to enjoy. Personally, I prefer ramen to be savory and salty. Any bowl that has miso as its main flavor has to walk a fine line between exhibiting that flavor and making it overpowering.
Lemon and black pepper (note the generous amount of yuzu)
We thoroughly enjoyed our experience at Bassanova. The interior space is interesting and unmatched by any other ramen shop that we’ve visited. The staff are friendly and helpful. The food, while not outstanding across the board had bright spots. One thing that we both appreciated was the restaurant’s seeming desire to break from what is traditional and try new flavor and ingredient ideas. It’s rare to see ramen explicitly flavored with lemon and black pepper, and many of the other bowls on the menu are just as creative and inspired. I think that there is something for almost anyone to enjoy on their menu, which we unfortunately only had a tiny taste of. We would definitely come back again and would recommend it to others as well.
We give Bassanova four stars out of five.