Have we reached the point of ramen saturation where you have more than one place to choose from in your humble burg? In Lynbrook, yes: Within the span of a few weeks, two new ramen spots have opened. The latest, The Bowl, blends the gustatory passions of its owners, Eric Chen and Olivia Lim: Ramen, poke, and especially colorful bubble tea.
“When my wife was a teenager, she couldn’t live without bubble tea,” said Chen of Lim, who turns out bubble tea of intersecting neon hues.
Chen and Lim both grew up inside their respective family’s Chinese restaurants and have always wanted to open their own place, he said. That career trajectory was sealed early for Chen, who began washing dishes at 13 and working in a sushi bar at 15. Chen tried college, as his parents wanted him to do, but ended up dropping out.
“My father was angry with me,” said Chen, but he knew the college life was not for him.
Instead, Chen continued working in the restaurant industry. When he got off of work in New York City’s Chinatown, he’d sample ramen all over the East Village and lower Manhattan, knowing he wanted to create his own style.
At The Bowl, that style is light and daintily turned out, such as a tonkotsu ramen whose broth is milky but not overly rich. Because Chen and Lim’s child has food allergies, they wanted to offer ample options for gluten-free and vegan eaters, and stock four kinds of noodles (traditional wheat, kale noodles, rice noodles and tofu noodles) as well as make a vegan broth in addition to traditional pork and chicken. Each bowl (they start at $ 14.95) comes with wilted bok choy, as well as corn, scallions, a tuft of bean sprouts and the requisite marinated egg.
The Bowl’s poke follow the usual template but are notable for throwing in black rice, yellowtail, grilled chicken and kani as options. There are a raft of Japanese and Chinese-style appetizers ($ 6 to $ 8), from takoyaki and gyoza to pork buns and soup dumplings, but it is the bubble tea ($ 5.50) that is the real scene stealer. Lim layers flavors such as passion fruit or mango with lychee jelly and popping boba for creations that vibrate with multiple hues.
A long stone’s throw from Lynbrook High School, The Bowl has a clean, simple interior, with a few high and low tables, a poke counter and an Instagrammable “Hello, gorgeous,” neon sign.
The Bowl, 88A Atlantic Ave., Lynbrook, if open at 11 am during the week and at noon on Sat. and Sunday; 516-758-7500, thebowl88.com