173 Fourth Ave,
Noodle nerds may argue that ZuZu isn't the most authentic ramen shop in town. Some find the broth too thick, too concentrated, too spicy, or too salty, but this little spot on Brooklyn's Fourth Avenue isn't trying to compete with the real-deal Japanese joints in the city, like Ippudo, Ramen Setagaya, and Rai Rai Ken. That said, their steamy bowls of ramen—with not-quite-conventional flavorings and non-traditional pork-free offerings for vegetarians—are pretty darn delicious. Hey, putting a little flavor-spin on basic dishes isn't always a bad thing. Take their edamame ($5.50), a basic Japanese joint appetizer that gets sprinkled with some green tea salt here. The green tea flavor is subtle; the results are stupid-good.
So, snag a stool at the bar and order a Hitachino. A glass wall between the patrons and the kitchen allows you to peer closely at the cooks without getting anything squirted on your shirt. If you're a meat-eater, the green curry-miso ramen ($10) is thick with tangled noodles, whole bok choy (hard to eat with chopsticks, but worth it), a perfectly runny slow-cooked egg, and caramelized pork-belly charshu. Its deeply flavorful broth has enough spicy kick to alleviate any springtime allergy congestion.
If you're meat-adverse, you'll be pleased to taste how much care has been given to developing a rich and garlicky vegetable broth for the vegetarian garlic-soy ramen ($9.50), which also combines toothsome noodles with a poached egg and bok choy, along with some bamboo shoots, too. The ramen bowls are big enough that you don't need to supplement them with pork buns ($8), but we did anyway because there's always room for delicious, super-messy, fall-apart pork shoulder with scallions, cucumbers, and spicy-sweet chili sauce on soft steamed buns.
The only downfall here? The combination of backless stools plus low-riding jeans and shrunken t-shirts results in some visible butt-crackage as customers slouch over their noodle bowls. Once you start slurping, you may not care who catches a glimpse of your piggy bank slot, but if you dress for the occasion in some belted, high-waisted pants (and perhaps a longer top for good measure), your ZuZu neighbors will be much obliged.