"Bridge and Tunnel"
Santouka — 595 River Road, Edgewater, NJ
Tucked away in the food court of a Japanese supermarket in Edgewater, NJ - a full 30 minute drive from Manhattan - is a basic Ramen restaurant called Santouka. Santouka, unlike some of the other Ramen places we’ve explored thus far, is actually a franchise brought over from Japan and commonly associated with the Mitsuwa supermarket chain. You might call it the McDonalds of Ramen given its distribution of worldwide locations and venues, but that’s as far as the analogy goes. Santouka’s Ramen has sometimes been compared to being the closest thing to the real thing served from a bistro in Tokyo.
We started off the evening earlier this week since the food court at Mitsuwa closes at 9pm. Given also the fact that it takes nearly a full hour to drive through downtown traffic and cross through the Lincoln tunnel and then up to Edgewater, we began our adventure at 7pm. Jordan joined us again this time taking Drew’s place as Drew continues his worldly travels and adventures. We arrive around 8pm to find that we’ve come right before final call and immediately line up to peruse though the laminated menu and order at the counter. Ian heads over to the attached supermarket to grab a couple Sapporos and bottle of saki while we grab a table with our food tickets in hand.
One of the first things you immediately notice while ordering is the lack of an extensive appetizer selection we found at some of the other full service/sit-down restaurants (translation: there were no pork buns this time which set the tone immediately on a down note). Ian arrives back with the alcohol from his supermarket adventure shortly after our tickets are called and quietly stashes it under the table. Puzzled, we observe as he points to the plainly posted sign across our table that explicitly states “NO ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION IN FOOD COURT”. We poured the beers into water cups and proceeded accordingly.
Shannon loved the Ramen immediately (it was after all his suggestion) as he was a previously a frequent visitor of the one in LA. Jordan enjoyed his as well but definitely had a slightly more muted reaction stating "yeah, its good". Antoine exclaimed that he was not impressed and was still reeling from the lack of pork buns, a mandatory part he felt was visibly missing from this weeks event. Ian followed suit with his disdain and agreed that it definitely wasn’t the best he’d ever had and continually went on about how Chuko was wayyyy better (and now looking back, I think Antoine was just disappointed because he wasn’t seduced by the whole experience and Ian? well, I think Ian was bummed there wasn’t a waitress to play with…I digress).
9pm came and went, and by 9:15pm we were the only ones left in the building. We got kicked out, took the top off the Wrangler, and enjoyed the cool summer breeze and our ride home back to the city. Despite the mixed opinions on the experience and overall food quality, if there was one thing we could all agree upon, it was that the view of the city from the NJ side of the Hudson was absolutely spectacular and Santouka was well worth the visit, if not just for the view.
Next up: Hidechan