Pop-up restaurants are not new, and neither are speakeasies. However, I recently had a dining experience that was a bit of both mixed with a bit of “Fight Club.”
Pasta Ramen is a Wafu-Italian omakase, revealing an intricate multi-course exploration of the Wafu pasta concept that originated in the 1950s at Tokyo’s Kabenoana (meaning “hole in the wall”). Launched in Montclair, New Jersey and later setting up shop in nearby Jersey City, a chef who asks not to be identified (you remember the first rule of Fight Club) and their team presents in secret, continuously changing settings to create an unforgettable dining experience.
Noodles are the centerpiece of the aforementioned concept that brings together only the best Japanese and Italian ingredients, flavors, textures, and techniques. Cooked in an open kitchen, each course is presented by the chef as they explain the origins of the dishes, highlight, ingredients, and answer questions. The night I attended, the menu included:
- Chutoro L’Acqua Pazza – prawn head brodo, lemongrass, ginger prawn, tuna belly, tuna “Owan” soup; an essential meal starter in both Italian and Japanese cultures
- Cacio e Pepe Gyoza – a deep-fried, hand-pinched dumpling filled with a rich cacio e pepe sauce
- Duo of A5 Dry-Aged Tsukune Yakitori – A5 wagyu, aged tsukune, shiso, dry-aged fat, enoki, aceto balsamico, yakatori; the finest grade cuts in a straightforward wafu blend
Throughout the meal, a sake sommelier pours a selection of pairings chosen specifically for the menu. A ceramic artisan was even commissioned to create a custom set of dishes which are brought to each location. Upcoming locations will include New York, Miami, Philadelphia, and more.
The only rules: do not reveal the location, do not share the chef’s name, and lastly, invite only your most trusted, special friends.