The cold weather has me ramen and shochu (barley sweet potato or rice distillation â€“ vodka-like) hunting, and the East Village is a breeding ground for this type of experience. I met my friends Larry and Steve over at Uminoie on third street, and was pleasantly taken care of. They offered flights, and even sold my favorite brand, Tori Kai. I usually add ume (plum) to my drink which intensifies as you reach the bottom. Lemon will also soften the sting out of some of the more austere styles available. I didnâ€™t get to sample much food, but the kitchen smelled great.
Earlier in the day I hit a new ramen shop on 14th street and first avenue called Kambi. The place was neatly designed and the price was right, but some richness was lacking in the pork bone broth, although all the elements of the soup came together nicely. The gyoza was not pan fried correctly and overall I give the experience a six out of ten. With so much competition for ramen in the East Village (Momofuku, Setagaya, Ippudo, Rai Rai Ken, Men Kui Tei, etc.), they are going to have to step up their game.