[UPDATE: Whole Foods location now closed, but find Yuji Ramen now in Williamsburg, 150 Ainsle Street.]
In addition to the array of varieties of ramen we know in New York, Tokyo apparently has a strong following for a broth-less style of the noodle dish, called mazeman. This is the specialty of relative newcomer Yuji Ramen, once a shop in Williamsburg and now a stylish counter on the second floor of Whole Foods Bowery (and soon a second Whole Foods location in Gowanus).
It is not a place where people linger long, and I have always seen a seat open when I visited. The people here are nice, but do promptly ask for a payment once you decide on a meal and place your order.
The first time I visited, I asked for a recommendation from the three mazeman varieties and was told the bacon + egg ($9, below) was a good choice. I was also easily up-sold to the combo for $12, which includes tsukemono (pickled vegetables, above) and hot tea. While the tea was enjoyed, I think I would pass on the tray of vegetables on future visits.
What sets the ramen apart from its more recognizable counterparts is two parts. The first is an extreme al dente noodle much like linguine that has a nice chew to it. This is then laid on a bed of potent type of tare sauce mixed with sesame oil. This concentrated stuff is under there ready to mixed with the noodles and everything else in the bowl, an important step before eating.
The bacon on top is fatty and nicely smoked. A poached egg and some crispy kale joins the mix on top, making each bite an enjoyable mixture of flavors and textures.
The other types of mazeman on the regular menu are salmon + cheese and miso roasted vegetable, as well as a daily shoyu ramen pick for those that must have broth. Limiting a menu can usually be seen in two ways, but I think it works well here because the limited options let them concentrate their efforts on creating a really good end product.
(2nd Floor inside Whole Foods)