My most recent trip was with family, and I was able to finally try their Hinomaru ramen after trying their more unique offerings the first and second time I was there. The ramen that bears their namesake uses a creamy pork broth, two big slices of pork belly, and a touch of spicy miso paste to add extra richness to the soup. But as you can see from the picture, the monkey fishcake alone is worth the price of admission!
Hinomaru also has several unique ramen, including the uni (sea urchin) ramen. The broth is thick has a bit of cream to add richness to the uni, and even has some cheese added, which I think might be Parmesan. This seems weird but it actually works. The broth is really thick and is used sparingly, and more of a dipping style ramen. Next time I would add a poached egg to add even more body to the broth!
My mom ordered the chicken ramen, which seems plain from their "chicken meat ball and chicken broth" description, but it was anything but. The chicken broth was super tasty and just salty enough (it also comes with a poached egg).
During a previous trip, I had the black sesame and calamari ramen, with a butter miso broth. Yowza this dish was just phenomenal, and nowhere else have I had a bowl of ramen like this. It reminded me of a squid ink pasta dish as the broth has a similar depth of flavor; who knew you can achieve a similar depth of flavor with black sesame seeds, butter, and miso!
My girlfriend had the curry ramen, which was a blackboard special. If you like Japanese curry, you will enjoy this bowl. The curry was warm and rich, perfect for a cold day and hungry stomach!
Aside from great ramen, Hinomaru also has some great appetizers, with a couple of unique items...fried pig ears or fried chicken cartilage anyone? During our trip, we had the fried pig ears. This dish was addictive. The pig ears were super crispy, slightly sweet and salty, with a little tartness from the fresh lemon they provide.
The rock shrimp tempura we ordered was also delish. It may be one of the pricier apps at $10, but they do give you a TON of shrimp. Fried well, tossed with a little bit of a spicy mayo based sauce and bits of corn and salad green...so it's not the traditional tempura, but hey it works and is delish!
Hinomaru is a great ramen spot, and worth going out of your way a little to get there....once you leave happy with a full belly you'll think it's worth the trip!
Neighborhood: Astoria (718) 777-0228