Kyuramen in Flushing, which specializes in hearty bowls of three major ramen varieties (Shio, Miso, Shouyu) as well as plates of Omurice, is part of a huge chain of noodle shops, with more than 120 locations in Taiwan alone. Those deep corporate pockets could explain how this extremely reasonably priced restaurant was able to reopen earlier this month for on-site, outdoor dining with over a dozen private "VIP Dining Rooms" on either side of 37th Avenue.
This is the most elegant setup I've seen anywhere in town — each room easily seats four, with wide wooden benches flanking a table spacious enough to handle a riot of dishes arriving at once. There's a peaked roof overhead for rainy (snowy?) nights, and bamboo shades act as walls separating you from your neighbors. Clear plastic sheeting provides protection from passing drivers, but since the front door is always open, it doesn't feel stuffy. And they've run wiring throughout the structure, so each room gets an overhead electric light.
The Flushing Kyuramen has been open for about a year, but since this was my first visit I stuck with the basics, food-wise. Ramen comes in eleven varieties, including Sapporo Miso, Korean Kimchi, Thai Tom Yum, and, my bowl, Kyushu Tonkotsu Shio, which hit the spot on a cool autumn afternoon. The noodles are cooked firm, the broth plenty rich (the black garlic helps here), the chasu fatty and tender.
Starters cover most of the usual ramen restaurant territory, from Pork Bao Buns to Gyoza Dumplings, but there are also general crowd-pleasers on offer like Takoyaki Octopus Balls, Purple Sweet Potato Fries, and Okonomiyaki. I went with the Ka Geso Kara-Age, or squid tentacles covered lightly in a crisp-fried batter. Not the least rubbery cephalopod I've ever encountered, but it was decent enough.
If you and your pandemic pod like having fun, definitely get an Omurice for the table, which the server will slice open for you — the egg is nice and fluffy, the rice well-seasoned, and the curry sauce bringing a pleasant tang to the party. Plus it comes with a generously stocked bowl of Seafood Miso Soup.
Kyuraman's outdoor rooms are unsurprisingly popular, so make sure you make a reservation to avoid disappointment. And do it via Yelp, as the hostess suggested, rather than by phone. I procured my spot by the latter method and there was no record of it when I arrived. Thankfully, since I was eating dinner at 3 p.m., I was able to be seated anyway (after a 15 minute wait), but it's definitely not worth the risk during prime time.
Then again, if you haven't been out to pandemic-era Flushing yet, know that the place is popping, with all sorts of outdoor arrangements going on (including hot pot spots), so, as always, there's no shortage of good food options around here.
Kyuramen is located at 133-42 37th Avenue, just west of Prince Street, and is currently open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (917-285-2332; kyuramen.com)