March 24, 2010

Remembering Why Minca Is Awesome, + Cupcakes, Gelato, and Ninja Sex Party

This post took place on February 19. But I remember it like it happened yesterday... ...Nah, I'm lying, I remember it like it happened a month ago.

damn that pork is fatty

If the above photo of a pork belly chunk—50% meat, 50% jelly-like fat—sitting in a bowl of ramen appeals to you, you'd probably be a fan of Minca.

But I almost forgot about Minca's buttery pork chashu (simmered pork belly). Until Melissa suggested that we eat there, my previous visit to Minca was over a year ago. WHAT MADE ME STAY AWAY FOR SO LONG? (I TYPE IN CAPS A LOT; I HOPE YOU ARE OKAY WITH THAT.)

Their broth. It's heavy, stomach coatingly thick, umami-laden stuff, and in the budding stage of our relationship, it was the main reason I went to Minca more than any other ramen shop. But on that over-a-year-ago visit, the ramen left my belly feeling uncomfortably bloated, and while that is a common sensation for me, this time was different. It didn't taste worth it. The love was gone.

chicken broth
Bowl of noodles.
wavy noodles

But now the love has come back a bit. During my last visit, the soy sauce-flavored chicken broth in my wahoo ramen ($9.50) didn't feel like a bowling ball in my gut. It's not a nuanced multi-layered flavor 'splosion like the kasane-aji ramen from Ippudo, but it satisfies a ramen craving, with the plus of being less expensive and not requiring an hour wait to sit down. The noodles are just right—springy and not too soft—and supplemented with half a hard boiled egg, sliced black mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and square of nori.

They give you the choice between chicken or pork chashu, but my god, if you're reading this I hope you only see one choice. Rhymes with "fublork." Unlike pork chashu I've had at other ramen joints, Minca's version is buttery throughout—fat and meat meld together. Melissa told me that they torch the outside of the pork for direct flame-enhanced deliciousness.

menu kitchen cupcakes!
Cupcakes from Butter Lane.

After filling our bellies with ramen, we headed to Butter Lane, one of Melissa's favorite cupcake shops (and she knows cupcakes; she writes for Cupcake Takes the Cake). They have a wide variety of frosting flavors as you can see from the menu above, but since I'm boring I usually get vanilla cake with vanilla frosting no matter where I go. Butter Lane offers two kinds of vanilla frosting, French and American buttercream. I recommend the smoother French made of egg whites, butter, and granulated sugar. Overall, the cupcakes have a good cake-to-frosting ratio, and neither part is too sweet. Cupcake lovers should definitely check it out. If only Michelle Obama knew before going to Magnolia Bakery. (I was right by Magnolia when she was there on Sunday night, but I didn't know what the parade of black SUVs, police cars, wooden security personnel, and policemen were for at the time. I suppose I should've known that craptons of road blockage means there's someone super important in the area.)

mm gelato cup
Melissa + GELATO!

Of course, the dessert doesn't stop there. Oh no—we expended meager calories by walking from the East Village to L'Arte del Gelato and sharing a large cup of pistachio, caramel, and blueberry (sorbet). That's how we roll on a Friday night.

The Pit reach!

AND THE NIGHT, OH, IT CONTINUED. We met up with Adelyn, Diana, Alice, and Michael to see comedic music duo Ninja Sex Party at The Pit in Chelsea. I was easily won over by this video:

Yeah. Man, That almost, just almost makes me want to dance.

If you get the chance, see them live and have a damn good time. Just don't sit in the front row or you might get a too-close-for-comfort, 95% naked serenade from Danny Sexbang. ...Or do sit in the front row. (Note: this probably only applies to attractive females. Danny is totally awesome; I got a fully clothed hug from him after the show.)


536 East 5th Street, New York NY 10009 (b/n Ave A and B; map)

Butter Lane
123 East 7th Street, New York, NY 10009 (b/n Ave A and 1st Ave; map)
212- 677-2880

L'Arte del Gelato
75 7th Avenue South, New York NY 10014 (at Barrow Street; map)

Posted by roboppy at 12:32 AM

Tags: bakeries, Butter Lane, Chelsea, cupcakes, East Village, gelateria, gelato, Japanese, L'Arte del Gelato, Melissa, Minca, ramen, West Village


OOOOOH that ramen looks good, followed by frosting shots. Crazies.

btw, I don't ever want to meet someone who dislikes blog posts heavy with the caps lock. I'm screaming at you through the intertubes because I care.

Posted by: Nicholas at March 24, 2010 3:04 AM [#]

Yay, that was such a fun day! Great food, great friends, great new stretches of my appetite. I feel great camaraderie with anyone who can share cupcakes, gelato, macarons, and chocolate with me AFTER dinner. THANKSFOODBUDDY

P.S. Danny Sexbang makes me almost want to dance too. A Cupcake Dance, that is.

Posted by: TheSpatulaQueen at March 24, 2010 4:27 AM [#]

Bleh, Minca has the worst ramen I've ever tasted - it's butter, butter, butter with no other real flavors. No balance whatsoever. All three of us were grossed out.

that's all I had to say. I don't know why this place gets so many recs.

Holy cats, that gelato looks good.

Posted by: Jane at March 24, 2010 9:04 AM [#]

ButterLane has great cupcakes. So does Sugar Sweet Sunshine, among other places. I have Magnolia's cupcake cookbook but haven't tried making anything from it. I got it before I actually ate there and then my enthusiasm died after being disappointed by their cupcakes.

p.s. danny sexbang's sudden tucan sam reveal has scarred me for life. don't think i can ever eat fruit loops again...

Posted by: food.overture at March 24, 2010 9:23 AM [#]

you just hit up my favorite ramen place and one of my top cupcake shops. though minca definitely has very heavy ramen (broth is made from bone marrow) so its not for everybody

Posted by: Alex at March 24, 2010 10:15 AM [#]

i like a bowl of ramen with pork belly right now! i love minca because its sort of out of the way. i need to revive my ramen hunting mission, hm...

Posted by: Donny at March 24, 2010 11:35 AM [#]

I want to thank you for that video. I feel like my life is now complete, and not even all you can eat pork belly from Momofuku could possibly top the magic that is Ninja Sex Party.


Posted by: Lor at March 24, 2010 11:53 AM [#]


Melissa: NOPROBZFOODBUDDY! We'll have to do it allll over again next time Ninja Sex Party performs.

Jane: I can't say I've ever felt overwhelmed by butter...mostly by sodium and collagen. Haha.

Adelyn: I'LL BAKE CUPCAKES WITH YOU! Fresh cupcakes have to be good.

Alex: Mmm delicious bone marrow. So good!

Donny: I haven't had ramen since this post happened. Maybe I need to go on a hunt too.

Lor: I'm glad that video affected your life as greatly as it did mine. YES LIFE IS COMPLETE.

Posted by: roboppy at March 24, 2010 3:10 PM [#]

I've been having a ramen crave recently and i base my decision on where I can find the most fatty pork slices in my ramen. Must try this place!!

Posted by: Jamie at March 25, 2010 11:03 PM [#]

Jamie: I hope you like it! Let me know what you think. :D

Posted by: roboppy at March 29, 2010 6:51 PM [#]

i like how you always reply to comments
even non- food related :P

Posted by: sophia at March 31, 2010 4:06 AM [#]

Butter Lane has the best frostings ever, hands down! I'm so excited about going back to NY now to get some. After all, we're the creators of the cupcake trend. Yay for us! =]

Posted by: Eileen at March 31, 2010 9:29 AM [#]

sophia: I try! There is the rare occasion where I can't think of a response to a comment. Then tumbleweed rolls by.

Eileen: Too bad more places can't make good frosting like that!

Posted by: roboppy at March 31, 2010 11:52 PM [#]

Oh wow, I absolutely must go to Butter Lane, if only for a French buttercream frosting shot.

Also, I can personally vouch for Ninja Sex Party Dan's awesomeness. Sadly, I have yet to see one of their shows, but the videos are never-ending amazingness.

Posted by: Molly at April 22, 2010 2:27 AM [#]


And frosting shots!

Posted by: roboppy at April 27, 2010 12:16 AM [#]

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