Keizo Shimamoto’s Ramen Shack, a spinoff of a stand that debuted at Smorgasburg Queens, sits down the block from the Queensbridge Houses. The ramen obsessive who eats hundreds of bowls of the Japanese comfort food a year offers seven classical varieties, including shio and tonkatsu, and four specialty bowls. It’s on the specialty list that I found Metta World Paitan ($13).
“It means cloudy,” Shimamoto said when I asked him about the word “paitan.” Ramen Shack’s menu describes the soup as “silky rich,” and they’re not kidding. It’s the richest bowl of chicken soup I’ve had in Queens or elsewhere. Four tender medallions of chicken breast floated in the milky broth along with spinach, scallions, menma (bamboo shoots), and naruto (fish cake). Sea salt tare gives the rich broth an oceanic edge. The Sun Noodles were of course eminently slurpable and springy.
Add an egg to your Metta World Paitan and you can ask “What came first the chicken broth or the egg?” About that broth, Shimamoto says it’s made with plenty of chicken backs and feet, using as little water as possible to draw liquid from the bones.
“That’s what gives it the milky, buttery feel without any dairy,” the ramen chef said. A soak in yuzu juice and a long cook makes the chicken breast as tender as the broth is rich. Shimamoto says the inspiration for the dish comes from a shop in Tokyo’s Ginza district that does a similar Tori Paitan.
“Now I need to go home and listen to some Metta World Peace,” I said I finished the bowl. “He’s a basketball player, not a rapper. Formerly known as Ron Artest,” Shimamoto said of the Lakers’ forward. “He grew up in the Queensbridge projects, too.”
Ramen Shack, 13-13 40th Ave., Long Island City, 929-522-0285