No meal is as synonymous with college as a nice hot bowl of ramen. As delicious as that 99-cent packet of instant ramen is at 4 a.m., it pales in comparison to the real deal. Enter eShin Noodle Bar, an only one-year-old NYC-style ramen and small plate eatery.
Located in Stony Brook Square, a quick walk from the LIRR station, this modern take on a cult favorite is one many will keep going back to. Walking in, customers are greeted by a warm and welcoming service team. The sleek contemporary dining room is clad in white with black accents which make for an inviting atmosphere. Booths made entirely of wood fit larger parties of six. Spice racks and décor on the walls add a nice touch of hominess, with both bar areas overlooking an open kitchen.
The two chefs spent years training in Michelin-star restaurants before opening eShin. Their small but intricate menu offers a surprising amount of options. Half of the starters offered are vegan and one can be modified to accommodate vegetarians.
Unlike many restaurants, the chefs seem to pay just as much attention to the vegan and vegetarian dishes as the regular menu, and it’s clear they are not just an afterthought. These dishes include beer-batter fried eggplant with chili sauce, black garlic miso, yuzu sesame and pickled habanero, as well as the house-made tofu with organic soy sesame, seaweed, cucumber, macadamia nut and ponzu.
The rest of the starters feature modern takes on classic dishes, such as the Kansai region-style sushi with tuna, sesame, seaweed, pickled kumquat, daikon and scallion. The bluefin fatty tuna tartare with crispy buns, sesame, black tobiko caviar and nori soy as well as the pork (vegetarian option available) buns with cucumber, jalapeno, macadamia nut and miso hoisin also share thoughtfulness on providing a wide range of choices for customers.
The five varieties of ramen available have delicious house-made broths. The two pork, one beef, one chicken and one vegan options leave little to be desired. Fresh and in-house pickled vegetables and an array of meats and tofu decorate each bowl, working harmoniously to create the perfect bite. Multiple add-ons ensure that customers have the freedom to adjust their ramen to their palette.
Just from one look at the menu, it was clear there would be much to explore. From caviar to house-pickled vegetables to ponzu and yuzu, it’s apparent the chefs carefully curated their menu to provide a rich and flavorful experience. The care put into plating each dish and attention to detail of each component solidified that feeling. I ordered the Salmon Nuoc Cham summer roll with raw salmon, pickled jalapeno, lettuce, miso hoisin and nuoc cham sauce, as well as the Vegan Ramen with a mushroom dashi and red curry coconut milk broth, marinated tofu, pickled jalapeno, spinach, bean sprout, bamboo shoot and scallion.
The Salmon Nuoc Cham was nothing short of delightful. The pickled jalapeno and acidic nuoc cham sauce paired perfectly with the fattiness of the raw salmon while still allowing the miso hoisin to shine through. The crispy topping played nicely with the crunch of the greens and the softness of the fish and rice wrapper. The only complaint I had was that the vinegar-based sauce had a hard time clinging to the soft, slippery rice wrapper, making it harder to get a cohesive bite of all the flavors. The vegan ramen was just as delicious. The mushroom dashi and red curry coconut milk broth was full of richness and a salty umami flavor.
For a vegan broth, it brought a surprising amount of body to the table. Marinated tofu, pickled jalapeno, spinach, bean sprout, bamboo shoot and scallions added freshness and crunch to round out the dish. To add another touch of piquancy, I added on a soft-boiled marinated egg as well as the house-made Szechuan chili oil. Both were equally delicious and brought something new to the dish. The dish paired well with the Yuzu Spice, a drink including matcha green tea, yuzu, smoked rosemary, pepper and mint. It was bright, acidic, smokey and aromatic in all the right ways and worked perfectly with the rich ramen.
Altogether, the meal consisting of one starter, one bowl of ramen and one drink cost 35 dollars before tax and tip. Both hot and cold starters average nine to 11 dollars, and the five varieties of ramen average 15 dollars. This restaurant may be on the pricey side for most students but is well worth it. eShin is a great place to go for a celebration or an end-of-midterm treat near campus and, I’d wholeheartedly recommend this restaurant to anyone.