Travel

Jersey Japanese Journey

A guide to New Jersey's Japanese boom
Japan in Jersey: Slide Show
How ramen is born

The Hudson River is practically reverberating from the much-anticipated opening of the new Sun Noodle factory in Bergen County, New Jersey. If you love ramen as much as we do, now is the time to head to the region's new noodle mecca.

First stop, Ramen Lab at Sun Noodle: Kenshiro Uki's family debuted its noodle factory in Hawaii in 1981, then opened an outpost in California, and now New Jersey. Is it a coincidence that Stateside ramen fever has followed the same geographic course? We think not. Classes with ramen master Shigetoshi Nakamura begin this week, as do tours of the factory, where custom noodles for Ramen Setagaya, Chuko and ramen cult figure Ivan Orkin are cut). Check @RamenLab for class dates and details. 375 North St., Unit O, Teterboro, NJ; 201-530-1100

To finish, Mitsuwa Marketplace: If your visit to Ramen Lab has left you craving more Japanese food, this giant marketplace is the logical next stop. Shop first for fresh wasabi root, hoshigaki (massaged dried persimmons), elegantly long Tokyo negi onions, shungiku chrysanthemum and pristine sushi-grade fish. Then head to the food court for roasted-green-tea soft serve ($3) and tai-yaki, fish-shaped pastries made of a Belgian-waffle-like batter filled with sweet red beans ($1.75). Bonus: Mitsuwa is also accessible by taking the store's shuttle bus from the Port Authority. 595 River Rd., Edgewater, NJ; 201-941-9113 or mitsuwa.com

  • Ramen Lab at Sun Noodle

    Ramen Lab at Sun Noodle: If you've found yourself in a nondescript office park in Teterboro, NJ...you're in the right place.

  • Ramen Lab at Sun Noodle

    Ramen Lab at Sun Noodle: Behind the door, a ramen factory awaits. Sun Noodle specializes in tailor-made noodles. At the kitchen adjacent to the factory, Shigetoshi Nakamura (ranked as the number-one ramen chef in Japan) works with chefs to figure out the perfect weight, shape, color and flour blend for their restaurant's noodles.

  • Ramen Lab at Sun Noodle

    Ramen Lab at Sun Noodle: A box of fresh noodles, waiting to make the hop across the George Washington Bridge.

  • Ramen Lab at Sun Noodle

    Ramen Lab at Sun Noodle: The kitchen next to the factory is where you can taste various types of noodles in bowls of ramen. The day we visited, we tried three servings, including an insanely delicious black-garlic ramen. Nakamura uses a refractometer--a scientific instrument that measures the concentration of a solution--to make sure his broth is nothing less than perfect.

  • Ramen Lab at Sun Noodle

    Ramen Lab at Sun Noodle: Sun Noodle's ready-to-go ramen miso kits, packed and ready for delivery to Sunrise Mart.

  • White Manna

    White Manna: Bonus Stop! Jersey tastes delicious through a Japanese lens, but don't skip tipping your hat to a Garden State institution with a roadside stop at this peewee gem for a cheeseburger. Think of having your clothes perfumed with the scent of griddled onions as a Jersey-style parting gift. 358 River St., Hackensack, NJ; 201-342-0914

  • White Manna

    White Manna: The holy trifecta: burger, fries and coke.

  • Mitsuwa Marketplace

    Mitsuwa Marketplace: Need soy sauce? This grocery store has an entire aisle of bottles, along with an aisle dedicated solely to rice cookers. For that rice cooker, 15-pound bags of super-premium koshihikari rice are available.

  • Mitsuwa Marketplace

    Mitsuwa Marketplace: Both the meat and fish departments have a stellar selection. Choose from beef ready for shabu shabu, sparkling wild ikura (salmon roe), sashimi selections, whole smelt and pike mackerel.

  • Mitsuwa Marketplace

    Mitsuwa Marketplace: Unsure of what you want to eat? No worries: At the food court, each stand boasts a windowed case full of impressively lifelike fake food.

  • Mitsuwa Marketplace

    Mitsuwa Marketplace: Cream yaki and fish-shaped, red-bean-filled tai-yaki on the grill.

  • Mitsuwa Marketplace

    Mitsuwa Marketplace: End the trip on a sweet note with roasted-green-tea soft serve and a selection of Japanese wagashi confections to serve with tea later.

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Sun Noodle 375 North St. Teterboro NJ 07608 201-530-1100 Mitsuwa Marketplace 595 River Rd. Edgewater NJ 07020 201-941-9113
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