Italian-Japanese in NYC


Chuko’s mentaiko mazemen

Remember when it was all about fusion? And then everyone became totally nose-up-in-the-air anti-fusion? Plus ça change – right? – since half of New York menus still feature tuna tartare tacos and the other half are micro-focused on Scandinavian cuisine. Evan Kleiman and Jonathan Gold discussed the state of fusion a few weeks ago on the Good Food podcast.

While the food etymologist inside me scoffs at the idea of culinary mash-ups, fusion is all around. American food is fusion. Australian food is fusion. And there is one form of fusion I’m more than happy to indulge in: Italian-Japanese.

There’s something about the simple comforts of the Italian table that marry so well with the elegant precision of Japanese cuisine. Dieci in the East Village is the perfect representation, serving milky mozzarella with buttery uni; ramen with lamb bolognese. It was the ideal choice for an anniversary dinner last year: me, being the Italophile, him, the lover of all food Japanese.

Like everyone else, we loved the bucatini with uni and spicy breadcrumbs at all’onda. But my favorite Italian-Japanese dish in NYC comes courtesy of Chuko‘s mentaiko mazemen.

Mazemen is a broth-less ramen and just the thing when you want a straight-up hit of ramen noodles. There’s no better rendition than at Chuko.

Chuko’s mentaiko mazemen is a Japanese take on spaghetti carbonara. Perfectly al dente wavy Sun Noodle ramen noodles are coated in a luxurious cod roe sauce, a riff on egg yolks, studded with bacon and topped with breadcrumbs and nori strips. It’s creamy and crunchy and golden and decadently comforting.

Chuko, 552 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn

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