351 East 14th Street
New York, NY 10003
(212) 288-1366

I need to start limiting the time I spend on 14th Street. Maybe M can convince me to go to Brooklyn soon... I've been craving Arthur Avenue Italian... I found an amazing wine bar in Queens that I've been dying to write up...

In the meantime, strategizing exactly how to boycott this particular thoroughfare can get a guy hungry. Cold weather being soup weather, Kambi seemed like a natural destination to plot my next move. Plus, how many places in New York can you eat big bowls of noodles while French show tunes croon overhead? You can't argue with the surreal multicultural appeal of the whole experience.

Much like nearby Ramen Setagaya, Kambi is a ramen noodle house. Unlike Ramen Setagaya, it serves more than one type of ramen and the soups can be customized with sauces and your choice of noodles. Variety, according to William Cowper, is the spice of life.

But taste, I have found, is the spice of food (along with spice), and the taste of Kambi's ramen makes Ramen Setagaya's ramen taste like salty fish oil with noodles. I know that Ramen Setagaya is the preferred ramen noodle shop... according to people more important than I, but my ass will be finding its way to Kambi instead. The soup that I ordered, the Basic Pork Ramen, was far far far less salty and far far far less fishy.

The soup came with a few slabs of pork, a pile of scallions and mushrooms and half of an egg. Was it good? Yes. Was it amazing? No. The noodles were too al dente for my taste and could have used a few more minutes boiling in the pot. The pork was a little too fatty and the texture of the mushrooms were like sucking down shredded earthworm. Still, I enjoyed the soup enough to recommend it to those who want to give traditional Japanese soups a go. Midwesterners, this won't apply to you. My view falls somewhere in-between the two recent opinions of Eating In Translation ("not for me") and Sarah DiGregorio from the Village Voice ("I could drink a bowl of it every day").

I also ordered the Pork Gyoza. They had a seared crust on one side and were soft on the other, like a cross between fried and boiled. They were quite good and although given the length of time that passes between ordering and eating, I suggest that the hungry either get a round of gyoza or bring a Snickers bar.

Kambi sells big bowls of piping hot ramens for about $11.

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