Any chef worth his weight in Maldon sea salt is going to do everything possible to distinguish the food he’s putting out from the slop at Mickey D’s. But for one night next week, Ben Puchowitz is converting his Cheu Noodle Bar into something that kinda-sorta-maybe resembles the Golden Arches.
With one or two flourishes, of course.
Up-front about its “inauthenticity” in the realm of Asian food, Cheu, which Puchowitz opened with partner Shawn Darragh in April, is tossing a “Mc” in front of its moniker for one night only, capitalizing on the chatter surrounding one of the most-hyped food Frankensteins in recent memory: the ramen burger.
Innovated by Keizo Shimamoto, creator of the ramen blog goramen.com, the idea behind the trend food is straight-up — one simply compresses ramen noodles into top and bottom burger bun shapes, sandwiching a meat patty and other toppings in between. Darragh says they were aware of the ramen burger’s existence back when Cheu was still running pop-up events to raise money and awareness, but haven’t had the opportunity to test one out till now. Puchowitz has accomplished a consistency he likes by deliberately overcooking his house ramen noodles (“If they’ve got that bite, they won’t really resemble bread,” he says), binding them with a little egg and potato starch and cutting out bun shapes with a metal ring mold.
The crown jewel of the one-night-only McMenu, which will be available next Tuesday, Sept. 24 from 6 to 10 p.m., is the “Big McCheu,” featuring two Asian-spiced all-beef patties, special sauce (Korean chili and Japanese mayo), lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions on a sesame-seed ramen bun.
But beef patties aren’t the only things the McCheus plan on playing with. There’s also a crispy chicken sandwich, seasoned with furikake, fried and sauced katsu-style and topped with kimchi. For filet o’ fish fans, they’ve got beer-battered cod with pickled mayo. Cheu fries, which come topped with bonito flakes that dance and sway in a wonderful way once they hit hot tater, will be available as a side, and deep-fried apple pies are on for dessert.
The evening will be walk-ins only (no takeout or drive-thru) — a boon, since Cheu, unlike McDonald’s, has a liquor license. Get a few beers in and there’s a good chance you’ll be lovin’ it before you even get your hands on a ramen bun.