As you know, E and I have been bingeing on ramen since coming back from Japan. We have a problem. A very tasty problem.
Before exploring NYC and all of their ramen restaurants we actually found a place not far from us in New Jersey. Ani Ramen was our first ramen experience in the USA and is currently our favorite. A bold statement. Yes. They are located on Bloomfield Avenue, aka restaurant row, in Montclair. On their menu, there are six different kinds of ramen to choose from, one of which is vegetarian, in addition to several salads, buns and refreshing drinks. They also have a selection of specials that change every day – experimental buns, ramen etc.
A few things to know about Ani Ramen before heading to Montclair. They don’t take reservations. They have a mix of private tables and communal tables. We have never wanted to wait for a private table so we always take the first available seats at the communal tables. We have always had a great time and you end up having some fun conversations with your table mates. They recently had a rave review in the New York Times so expect there to be a wait. If you are planning on having leftovers make sure to bring a tupperware for them. Ani doesn’t provide takeout containers. Parking can be a pain so be prepared to drive around for a bit before finding a spot. Lastly, Ani doesn’t offer takeout or delivery. If you want to eat any of their creations you will have to visit them in Montclair. It is all worth it. I promise.
Our first time, I ordered the vegetarian ramen and E ordered the spicy miso ramen. We also ordered a salad with crispy tofu and a yuzu lemonade to share. The salad came first and it was delicious. The perfect size to split between the two of us. It was dressed with perfection – lightly. The yuzu lemonade was so refreshing. I heart yuzu everything. Then the ramen arrived. Per Ani’s instructions we #slurpsiprepeat until there was almost nothing left! My vegetarian ramen had a mix of different vegetables including sweet potato, enoki mushrooms, scallions, bean sprouts and spinach. The broth tasted of miso and peanuts and had a little kick at the end. I just couldn’t get enough. E slurped up his chicken based ramen and devoured all of the soft pork. He said his broth was just the right level of spicy. When it is time to pay they bring you your bill in a little notebook full of drawings by customers, which you are of course free to add to if you are in the mood. It was so fun to flip through. It confirmed my suspicion that there are other ramen addicts out there! While the service was a little slow, the quality of the food made up for it. We have been back multiple times and are planning a visit soon! Currently it is my favorite place in all of New Jersey to go out for dinner.