The speed with which a bowl of ramen arrives at the table can be deceptive, obscuring the dozens of decisions and hours of work that lead up to that moment. Take the shiro tonkotsu ramen at eShin Noodle Bar, which has opened in Stony Brook.
The day before, chef Kai Wang begins a pork stock that will ultimately take 10 hours to complete. He then marinates, sears and confits pork belly.
When you order the tonkotsu, wavy wheat Sun noodles fill the now-finished broth, along with a soft-boiled egg, shiso leaves, minced scallions, ribbons of daikon, the confited pork belly and a spoonful of garlic-sesame purée. The broth is bright and buttery, a warm-weather modification to often heavy tonkotsu broth.
"You keep turning the bowl, and it’s all of these different flavors," said Wang, 37. "When people think about ramen, they think it should be cheap and easy and fast-paced. We spend so much time preparing and putting work into every dish."
Wang worked at Jeju Noodle Bar and the now-closed Momofuku Kawi, both in New York City, before being lured to Long Island by the owners of eShin. He had briefly worked at Aji 53 in Smithtown years ago, where he met eShin sous chef Will Cheng, himself an Eleven Madison Park alum.
As you might expect from a duo with such credentials, the menu at eShin (a take on the Japanese term for "one heart") does not stop, nor begin, with ramen. Among the starters is organic tofu made here and served chilled with cucumbers, macadamia nuts and a few other accoutrements. "It will be gone when the weather turns cold," said Wang, who plans to shift the menu every three months or so.
There’s long-brined, buttermilk fried chicken wings; crisped cauliflower accented with yuzu, plum, and mint; pork buns as well as toro buns, which were sort of a happy accident. Not wanting to throw away torn bao, Wang thought to crisp the broken pieces and layer on minced bluefin tuna belly and tobiko. "Whatever is left over we try and turn it into something else," he said.
Also among the starters is amberjack, aka yellowtail, which the kitchen procures from Hawaii then serves crudo-style with pickled chilies, micro greens and a warm brown-butter vinegar poured over tableside.
eShin, a few storefronts in from North Country Road in a new plaza, is an elegantly simple place with a few wooden booths and an l-shaped ramen counter facing an open kitchen. Starters fall between $7 and $13; ramen starts at $13, and includes both a vegetarian version that uses tomato dashi in lieu of broth as well as chicken and beef versions — the latter topped with Wagyu brisket. Beer, sake and wine are on deck, as is a pomegranate kombucha.
eShin opens Monday to Friday for lunch from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., reopening at 5 p.m for dinner. On Saturday and Sunday, it’s open it from 1 p.m. until 9 p.m.
eShin Noodle Bar, 1113 Route 25A, Stony Brook. 631-675-6333. eshinrestaurants.com