Ani Ramen’s Jersey City Launch Deliciously Ups the Ante

A cocktail menu is a welcome addition to the sister location of a popular Montclair eatery.

Ani Ramen’s signature ramen bowl travels well, even though the rule, kindly but firmly enforced, is that it’s all—ramen, buns, bites and bowls—eat-in only, no take-out. By “travels well” I mean, what you love at Ani Ramen in Montclair has made its way beautifully, seamlessly, deliciously to a second location in Jersey City, with one important change: the addition of alcoholic beverages.

Which is where we will start, so those in the Jersey City orbit can immediately claim bragging rights.

First, there are highballs and cocktails created by Kenta Goto, the renowned mixologist who made his name at New York’s Pegu Club before opening Goto, the cocktail go-to spot on the Lower East Side. And there is also sake and shochu, brews and wines at Ani Ramen Jersey City. It’s all part of a concise, well-edited list that’s right for the food. And, if all’s as well made and well served as the Ginger Highball, with its pitch-perfect proportion of shochu (a Japanese spirit distilled from grains and vegetables) to fresh ginger, lemon and soda water, Montclair’s denizens have every right to be frothing with envy.

In fact, residents of every town in New Jersey should picket their town halls and demand their town mothers and fathers get with the program and petition Ani Ramen’s owner Luck Sarabhayavanija to bring an Ani Ramen to all Main Streets in the Garden State.

For Ani Ramen is what you are going to want for dinner week in and out. Maybe more frequently.

I want a special served at AR-JC the night of my visit that partnered raw bluefin tuna with cubes and thick slices of tart Fuji apple and juicy cucumber right now—and, frankly, again in about three hours. Its citrus-soy dressing fired up the flavors of the fish and the fruit, while fish egg brought pops of pleasure to the toss.

Tuna fuji

Buns, yummy buns, may be routine everywhere these days, but Ani Ramen’s are noteworthy for their full flavor and textural lightness. Take a break from pork and pick the bun plumped with delicate tofu, deftly fried and set amid shredded cabbage and shards of pickled cucumber in a rousing spicy miso-infused mayonnaise.

Tofu bun

You can then go back to pork and choose from the chashu don rice bowl, with its mash-up of braised pork, soy tare (seasoning), marinated soft-boiled egg that squirts yolk on demand, and flourish of scallion twirls, or the classic Ani Ramen ramen—the beloved No. 6 on the menu. It does its name proud by layering pork braised with warm spices in a lush pork, bone broth further infused by pork belly, then topped with marinated egg, spinach and hand-rolled ramen that all but romances umami. I take that back: The noodles not only romance umami, they succeed in seducing the elusive, mysterious taste.

Chashu don rice bowl


Ani Ramen

Sarabhayavanija’s sequel, with its moody, mural-filled interior that’s evocative of ramen houses in Tokyo, is not just a smash hit, it ups the ante on the original in Montclair by offering beverages that elevate the dining experience.

Could it get any better? Well, yes: Starting Saturday,  July 8, Ani Ramen Jersey City will start serving lunch.

Ani Ramen, 218 Newark Avenue in Jersey City. Open daily for dinner; there is a midnight menu of small bites, too. Eat-in only; no takeout. 201-408-9811.

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