For ramen freaks not interested in waiting two hours at Ippudo, dealing with the $5 Cokes at Momofuku, or trekking to Midtown for Hide-Chan, there is now a new contender in the noodle game: Chuko. And unlike pretty much every other major player in the city's ramen scene, it's in Brooklyn.
Run by a pair of Morimoto veterans, Chuko opened up a few weeks ago at the tail end of Prospect Height's Vanderbilt Avenue main drag. It's been buzzing pretty much since day one, partially because of owners' cred, partially because the fooderati in general go apeshit for ramen, and partially because Brooklyn has been seriously lacking in quality ramen options (Zuzu nonwithstanding).
So, intrigued by the promise of "long-simmered" broths made with "antibiotic and hormone-free meat" and "specially designed" noodles, we went to check it out. Despite the slightly awkward staff and the overplayed exposed-brick-and-blond-wood color scheme, the ramen stood up. It stood up well. The standard broth was seriously meaty—our server said it's simmered with a veritable zoo of pork, beef, lamb and chicken—and the miso even better, made mellow with a generous scoop of soy seasoning. (There's also a vegetarian version.) The noodles were thin and straight, undercooked just enough to maintain some structural integrity in the broth. Get anything with a soft-cooked egg, which adds another layer of richness to the broth. The only misstep was the pork topping—instead of a traditional, fatty cha shu-style slice of pork, the Berkshires pork they're using is too crisp and smoky, like overcooked bacon.
Still, it's a fine start—there are only four well-executed soups ($11-12) and a handful of unmemorable appetizers on the menu now, which will likely expand as the restaurant finds its footing. Don't be surprised if there's a short wait, but do expect the restaurant to give you a $1 off drink voucher at the nearby bar Woodwork to bide your time. One last tip: eat a salad for lunch. You'll need it to feel human after eating a giant, delicious bowl of liquified pork and salt for dinner.