Have a seat at the table with our associate editor as she discovers some of the best food (and drinks) around the region. This month, she’s in Chestnut Ridge.
What better way to start this new column off than with something I know I’m an expert in: ramen. I slurped my way through Japan when I studied there in 2019 and sampled a wide variety of regional styles, from the holy trinity of miso, shio (salt), and shoyu (soy), to more flavorful takes, like tonkotsu, curry, and even matcha. And no, it never got old.
But, while 6,700 miles away from home, I never tried something quite like Underground Ramen & Taco’s shoyu smoked chicken ramen noodles. The soy broth is flavorful, but still allows the smokiness of the jerk chicken and umami garlic croquettes to shine. And if that isn’t enough, it’s topped off with a jammy six-minute egg and crispy plantain chips. It’s a huge bowl of fusion food heaven—and you can’t get it anywhere else, even in Japan.
The restaurant is new to the Rockland County (and ramen) food scene, but the duo behind it—Hank Barrett and Dave Venitelli—have been around the block. Barrett had a hand in several of Rockland’s hotspots, including French eatery Autumn and the Mexican food truck TacocaT (both in Sparkill). Venitelli also owns Harvest Moon, a cozy café and caterer that serves up fresh bread, brick oven pizza, and sandwiches—four doors down the strip. Most of Underground’s ingredients are sourced locally, with meat from Goffle Farms in Wyckoff, NJ, and produce from Duryea Farm in Monsey.
But ramen is just one of Underground’s must-order meals—the menu is chock-full of small plates and entrees, like the savory and spicy Kung Pao pastrami empanadas with mustard seed sauce and the delicate but delicious oxtail spring rolls. If you’re in the mood to pair your ramen with a few tacos (there’s nothing wrong with that!), I highly recommend the hoisin meatballs or pork belly banh mi. Ramen not your thing? The stir-fried tofu udon noodles are incredible, piled high with mushrooms and bell peppers and sauced just right with Thai green coconut curry.