Tonchin NYC's Vegan Ramen

Who needs pork when you can still have Tonchin's chewy handmade noodles?

I like to consider myself one of the first to offer a professional eye roll at January diet resolutions. But then there were office-wide rumblings about trying a month of veganism, and I'm putty in the face of jovial peer pressure. So now, here I am.

This didn't seem to me the biggest challenge—my top two sources of nutrition are nuts and sweet potatoes, both of which are conveniently not animals—but dining out surely takes some effort, especially in the height of hearty soup and stew season. That is, until NYC's new kid on the ramen block came around. 

On a recent cold night (which, to be fair, was comparably tropical), I took a seat at the bar and delighted in a bowl of Tonchin's roast vegetable vegan ramen. The opaque, carrot-based broth wasn't overly salted; the veg still had bite; and I hadn't encountered anything as springy as the house-made noodles since I last played with a Slinky.

The Japan-based chain was started 26 years ago by a pair of brothers, and now the family's next generation is expanding the restaurant to the States. It's clearly proven successful so far, as the restaurant, which opened in late 2017, was completely packed—on a Monday, no less. All 60 seats were filled, from the miniature booths to the bold-red barstools.

The vegan ramen is just one of their four signature bowls, and should you be eating meat, you won't be disappointed by the Tokyo-style tonkotsu and smoked dashi bowl with clams and smoked fish oil. Side bites include tuna tartare topped with a shaky yolk, eye-opening pickled cucumber and a spiral of panfried gyoza.

Everything is mighty fine on its own, but when paired with a wasabi vodka tonic or Umami Mary (shiitake-infused vodka is involved), you'll feel more than ready to go back out into the cold.