My Korean American friends in NYC are all big foodies and they are the best when it comes to keeping track of new Korean restaurants in the city and what is trending right now. When Jeju Noodle Bar popped up on the radar, it was immediately put on the list of Places to Try, and one night in March, we went to check it out.
Jeju Noodle Bar serves a gourmet version of ramyun, which is the Korean version of Japanese ramen or Chinese lamian. You eat a lot of ramyun in Korea, but most of it is of the instant noodle, just-add-water kind, that comes in a plastic cup. Korea has some really big instant noodle brands, which are also widely available abroad, such as Shin Ramyun which I have seen in many grocery stores in the US.
Though at Jeju Noodle Bar, everything is made from scratch and they do it so well that they earned a Michelin star in 2019. Carefully selected ingredients go into the broth, which is cooked for hours to get the right depth of the flavors. The price level is within the comfort zone of most people with the majority of the ramyun bowls being less than $20, but if you want fancy stuff such as uni, truffle or wagyu, it costs more.
Before we went, I had already decided that I wanted to try their truffle ramyun with raw egg yolk that I had seen online, and what an entrance it made! The truffles were brought to the table in a beautiful chest, and the truffle-shaving did not stop until a thick layer of shaved truffle completely covered the noodles. Such a decadent dish.
The ramyun at Jeju Noodle Bar are slightly lighter in the texture than typical Japanese ramen, but with plenty of that bounce that I love in noodles. The bowls are smaller than your typical noodle shop bowl, so you will probably need to add some of the small plates found in the “Before Noodles” section in the menu to your order.
In addition to the ramyun, we had a delicious ceviche-style dish with amberjack (not on the menu anymore) and the toro ssam bap which was raw tuna and rice that you wrapped in sheets of toasted seaweed, like a DIY maki roll.
We were at Jeju Noodle Bar on a Saturday night and the restaurant was packed from when we came and until we left. The food was very good, and I will be back, no doubt about that. Though the constant line of people waiting for a table and the fact that the restaurant does not have a dessert menu means that Jeju Noodle Bar does not feel like a place to linger for hours. Though it is still a good place to start an evening out, as long as you are prepared to go somewhere else to continue the evening.
We were told that Jeju Noodle Shop did not take advance reservations, so we arrived at the restaurant 15 minutes after they opened that night, and we waited around 30 minutes to get a table. Though at their website it says that they offer a limited number of table reservations through RESY but encourage people to just drop by.