Cold in New York yet? We’ve been in hibernation mode since mid-November for that reason exactly! (Also, you know, finals.) As we head into the deep freeze, the Brunch with Bear team is back with some warm food, starting with a bowl of hot ramen from A-12 Sushi & Ramen!
Earlier this year, I was wandering around the Lower East Side looking for the Ivan Ramen flagship restaurant. Bogged down with shopping bags and a Bear on a hot summer day, I was looking forward to going back to an air-conditioned couch in my cousin’s apartment with a bowl of delicious ramen. Upon entering Ivan, I was informed that they did not do take-out—which totally poked holes into my plan for a perfect evening!
And so I wandered as I wallowed until I stumbled over A-12 Sushi & Ramen, a tiny hole-in-the-wall kind of Japanese restaurant, which had only a loud group of women at one of its larger corner tables and a very friendly waitstaff. Within minutes they were putting together an order of shoyu ramen and gyoza, and letting me soak in their air-conditioned restaurant. Decorated with lanterns and maneki-neko cat figurines, A-12 was welcoming and clean.
A-12 is located on Clinton Street between Stanton and Rivington Streets, and easily accessible from the Essex Street stop on the M train. It’s also close to Babycakes, so I was able to get a cookie sandwich and a couple doughnuts to save for dessert! For those of you who live in the neighborhood, A-12 advertises free delivery, and they are conveniently on Seamless.
The chef put together my meal fairly quickly, but the real challenge with takeout is whether or not it stays warm until your final destination. Luckily, A-12 passed the test! The dumplings, the soup, the noodles, etc. were still hot by the time I had made it back to the Upper East Side, poured my drink, and selected my Netflix show for the night.
The noodles were a little bit softer than al dente as they ought to be and packaged in a cute portable soup bowl, instead of the typical plastic quart container. The clear, salty shoyu soup was in a separate container, so I could control the amount of soup, and also so the noodles didn’t get soggy! I thought the pork was surprisingly delicate and not at all fatty, as it often is in smaller ramen houses, and the addition of a soft-boiled egg is always the key to a good bowl of ramen. The dumplings were packaged in a rectangular package so they didn’t go flying around. I even counted an extra dumpling in my tray. Thanks, nice waiter who took my order!
A-12 may be your generic neighborhood Japanese restaurant, but they were incredibly friendly, understanding about food allergies, and their food was delicious and reasonably priced. Bear and I were comfortably full after slurping down our meal during a particularly tense episode of Chuck. Though I can’t see myself making the trek down to the Lower East Side just to get takeout from A-12, I can definitely see myself returning should I find myself wandering and hungry in their neighborhood again!