Soup dumplings and hand-pulled noodles are two of life’s great pleasures. Which is why I was so excited when Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns Ramen opened up on 8th Avenue in Midtown.
The xiao long bao–little steamed buns, commonly known as soup dumplings–are done just right, with delicate skins that hold in pork and crab with hot savory broth. There is no elegant way to eat these. Employing the technique I learned years ago at Joe’s Shanghai, I first place a dumpling in my spoon and nibble a little hole in the side, slurping out the hot soup. Then the dumpling–now deflated–gets a hit of black vinegar with ginger before it is consumed, carefully. Such a joy.
One thing you will not find at this tiny restaurant with a funny name–KFLSBR, as Mike and I call it–is Japanese-style Ramen, the hot bubbling noodle soup that has become popular all over New York. For that, you’ll have to head to Totto Ramen up the street (see our review). Instead, KFLSBR serves Chinese-style ramen; la mian, or hand-pulled noodles. It’s a completely different food, and just as exciting.
The hand-pulled noodles are fantastic in soup, with broth that manages a deep and complex flavor without being heavy. We enjoyed a bowl with chunks of roast duck, which were a little fatty perhaps, but that just made the broth more delicious. The noodles remained nice and springy. Expect some splatter on your clothes.
The “fried ramen” are addictive stir-fried noodles with vegetables and your choice of toppings, from chicken to roast duck. In appearance the dish is similar to American-style lo mein, but the similarities end there. The hand-made noodles are springy and light, and the sauce is well-balanced. Tomato adds a really nice, surprising juiciness. If it were healthy to do so, I could probably eat these every day.
On a hot day, I really enjoy the cold sesame ramen, which comes topped with whatever you like (I like spicy beef) and tossed with sliced tomato and bok choy. It arrives with a side of light sesame sauce and some nice dark chili sauce. A great refreshing dish to complement hot soup.
Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns Ramen
811 8th Ave
Tel. (917) 388-2555