Machiya Ramen Noodle House has been open since October 15. "We hope you enjoy our soft opening menu." These are the words printed on their single-sheet of offerings.
For diners, this means a couple of things. First, the menu isn't definitive. Second, the staff is in training, and the kitchen is probably working out a few kinks. But, all that doesn't really matter. What does? During this type of test run, patrons must pay for their meals.
Overall, a menu like this is a warning. Eat at your own risk; this restaurant is still in development.
Last week, the staff was testing out new tables for the outdoor seating area. A waiter was using a measuring tape to calculate the space. "We are trying to get everything just right," he said.
At Machiya, there are clearly still adjustments to be made. Their biggest issue is price.
The bill for two amounted to $80 with tax and tip. We had the bakudan ramen (kakuni, narutomaki, scallion, garlic puree, tonkotsu broth), hokkaido (miso paste, king crab, scallops, mussels, shrimp, cabbage, scallions, kikurage mushrooms and garlic oil), two cocktails and a $2 panko-crusted curry bun snack.
I wouldn't typically mind a $40-per-person dinner, especially since it included a drink. But this meal also happened to be underwhelming. The restaurant needs to work on developing the flavors in its broths (particularly the hokkaido) and, even more so, the quality of their housemade noodles.
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Next week, the eatery is adding sushi to the menu. With these next adjustments, Machiya should keep in mind that patrons like to see a direct correlation between price and quality.
So, although we were warned about the soft opening status, the food (and the bill) also made it evident that they are still working out a few kinks. I hope they get it together soon, because I would love to stop by Midtown for a good bowl of ramen.
Follow Emily on Twitter @EmilyCodik.