ROKC: RAMEN RESTAURANT TASTE IN HARLEM

I’ve been wanting to write about ramen restaurant ROKC (Ramen, Oysters, Kitchen, Cocktails) for more than a year…

I want to get this out of the way because the food and cocktails are truly good. The main reason I avoided writing about this restaurant until now is that the long wait for seating is frustrating A ruined mood is not great for scribing about a place that I otherwise like and frequent.

3452 Broadway
New York, NY 10031

b/t 140th St & 141st St 

ATMOSPHERE:

Despite the crowds, the ramen restaurant has a very laid-back vibe. From my observation, a good chunk of the crowd consists of students, which makes sense as Columbia University and City College are nearby. It is a very intimate space; great for having conversation as the music is not too loud. It feels like a speakeasy, except it isn’t hidden behind some gimmick door as many are. The storefront could use a bit better presentation as it can be hard to tell that it’s there, but that’s a small nitpick.

WHAT WE ATE:

Smoke Bourbon, Ancho Reyes, Cynar, House Bitters
Blue Point Oysters
Spicy Shrimp Curry Bun: Shrimp, Curry, Fried Shallot, Lettuce, Chive, House Spicy Mayo
Kyoto: Soy Sauce Flavored Chicken and Fish Based Broth Topped with Pork Belly, Garlic Oil, Soft-Boiled Seasoned Egg, Spicy Bamboo Shoot, Scallion
Sapporo: Chicken based broth with House Miso Topped with Chicken Chashu, Corn, Butter, Bean Sprouts, Scallion, Red Pepper, Black Pepper
Okinawa: Chicken based broth with Okinawa Sea Salt, Yuzu Pepper, Sake Kasu topped with Chicken Chashu, Yuzu Peel, Soft Boiled Seasoned Egg, Asparagas, Scallion

I have a rotation of ramen bowls I enjoy in addition to the delicious shrimp buns. The spicy mayo on said buns really creates the taste, but adding a bit of pepper oil for heat completes the flavor.

My favorite bowls are chicken broth based, but the Kyoto, which trades in chicken chashu for pork belly, has a deeper flavor because of the fat of the cured meat melting into the broth.

You have to try the Smoke old-fashioned. Delicious!

SERVICE:

The staff is very hard-working, and they seem to handle the stress of such a popular nook well. The food never takes a long time, and my water glass is always full. I love when I don’t have to ask for refills; it shows a certain kind of attention to detail. I’ve never had an incorrect order, which is rare even at the best restaurants.

My main criticism with ROKC is that it is not large enough for the amount of clientele; couple this with the fact that they don’t take reservations = I feel like they need a second location. I’m not advocating for a larger space because the intimate atmosphere would evaporate. However, a second location to relieve the wait times would be ideal. Waiting 45 minutes to an hour for a party of two, even during prime time is a bit of madness.