Negi ramen topped with fresh green onions at Kiko Ramen...

Negi ramen topped with fresh green onions at Kiko Ramen in Manhasset. Credit: Newsday/Andi Berlin

Gourmet ramen shops are almost as common as packaged ramen these days, but a growing chain stands out from the crowd with a classy ambience and strikingly great bowl of noodles.

Kiko Ramen, which is on Newsday's 2022 list of standout ramen establishments, has locations in Garden City and Glen Cove. In April, it expanded to Manhasset in a commercial stretch dotted with cafes and sushi counters. Previously a Gino's pizza, the corner spot now has a Japanese minimalist look with a sun-drenched room accented by light wood paneling. Most tables were full on a recent Tuesday night with solo diners lining the thin bar propped up against the buzzy open kitchen. 

Kiko Ramen opened its third location in Manhasset.

Kiko Ramen opened its third location in Manhasset. Credit: Newsday/Andi Berlin

Owner Robyn Feng said the newest spot has been 2½ years in the making. She got into ramen while living in Michigan and watching Japanese animé shows with her son, and was inspired to open her own place after seeing the success of her cousin Kenny Li, who owns Iron Ramen in Stony Brook.

Feng recruited chef Jeff Chi to move from the original Garden City location to Manhasset, running a detail-focused kitchen that includes making 10-hour bone broths and cooking the ramen noodles from their supplier until al dente. Kiko's two-sided picture menu looks similar to other ramen spots, but there are a couple of fun tidbits.

On the appetizer menu, a fresh plate of cold wasabi okra ($8) rocks your taste buds. The green seed pods look rather nonthreatening on the plate, but each viscous bulb screams with wasabi flavor. The restaurant also serves bubble tea and time-consuming desserts like layered crepe cakes ($7), available in both Oreo and rainbow. 

Rice bowls, like the gyu don with thinly sliced beef and sweet onions, had a nostalgic flavor that tastes like childhood. But ramen is the main draw here, with nearly a dozen customizable varieties made mostly from pork broth.

Negi ramen ($15) is a popular style in Japan that takes its name from long-stemmed spring onions. Shaved into delicate wisps and scattered over the top of the soup, the scallions provide a biting flavor that cuts through the rich broth. Underneath, a beautifully broiled slice of chashu pork adds more of a roasty flavor than a fatty one. Everything else is great: the runny egg, the springy noodles and even a hit of pickled mustard greens, a hallmark of Chinese soups that somehow tastes perfectly at home here. 

Kiko Ramen, 480 Plandome Rd., Manhasset, 516-682-2268, kikoramen.com. Open 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 

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