One of the many super-Brooklyny things to come with the opening of the Gowanus Whole Foods was the rooftop bar and lounge area, and the compelling stuff you could buy in the grocery section and carry upstairs to eat there. Come summer, it could easily fulfill that stereotype, with hipsters enjoying local beers and the view of the toxic canal, but for now, it’s kind of a sweet secret, a low-key spot that you’ll have almost all to yourself on a chilly weeknight.
It might be disorienting to walk into the huge supermarket and try to decide what to eat — The Roof has its own menu with things like burgers and grilled cheese sandwiches, and the prepared foods section has everything from sushi to salad. But there’s really only one thing you should be eating: Yuji Ramen.
Known for their mazemen ramen — a brothless ramen that Serious Eats has described as “one of the most strikingly original ramen experiences you’ll have anywhere” — it’s exciting to note that their shoyu ramen (ramen with a soy sauce-based broth) is just as worth checking out.
Using a broth made daily using bones from the Whole Foods’ butcher counter, they just rolled it out as a special on Tuesday, and we stopped by to try it out. For $9 (definitely add a poached egg for $1), you get a 16oz serving of ramen, which is probably less than you’d get sitting down to a big steamy bowl at a typical ramen restaurant, but this is so tasty and satisfying, you really don’t need much more.
We heard another customer ask the chef to make hers spicy, but for this, it’s not necessary. The broth is light and tangy, and you’d miss the subtle flavors of fish and pork if you added a chili sauce. Ours was topped with strips of chicken that the chef charred at the station using a blowtorch, and the noodles had just the right bite to them. It’s not just the best ramen we’ve had in a supermarket — it’s some of the best ramen we’ve had in Brooklyn.
Yuji Ramen is located in the middle of the prepared foods section at Whole Foods (214 3rd Street), which is at the end of the store closest to the canal (and furthest from the entrance near 3rd Street). You place your order, and they’ll give you an estimate on about how long it’ll be before it’s ready for you (on a quiet weeknight, it won’t take long), so you can wander around and marvel at all the things available in this space that was, until fairly recently, a big empty lot. Pay at the express registers which are closest to this area, and head out the exit right there to go upstairs, where you can sit, eat, and grab a beer.