Many restaurants have a craft cocktail menu, but few have their own craft cocktail bar. Wanpaku — the ramen powerhouse at 621 Manhattan Avenue — is one of the rare eateries to succeed in creating two distinct ambiances in one compact space. Nestled in the back of the restaurant, The Hidden Pearl is a transportive 20-seat speakeasy
Between the restaurant’s food and the bar’s drinks, it’s hard to say which is better. Luckily, they pair perfectly. Stop by the bar before having a meal, or vice versa, but be sure to make a reservation at the bar; given The Hidden Pearl’s size, it’s best to put your name in ahead. If you’re starting at the bar, a special to begin with might be the $10 shooter — a savory and seaside concoction that blends fish eggs, a quail egg, and more. Simultaneously briny and refreshing, it’s yummier than you might think, and it tastes of the ocean.
From there, move onto some sake or try the JBS, a drink named after Jazz Blues Soul, a popular bar in Tokyo from which The Hidden Pearl borrows many flavors. If that fizzy gin drink is not for you, ask the amiable bartenders and staff for a suggestion — the adventurous yet accessible menu offers something for everyone.
The menu also includes small bites to whet the pallet before heading into the main attraction, Wanpaku Ramen. The affordable and fresh plates offer ramen dishes hot and cold (yes, cold Ramen — the seasonal seafood ceviche ramen is delicious) along with a host of side dishes from braised pork buns to kaki fry (fried oysters). The BBQ beef ribs ramen is particularly delectable — the beef broth is light and not over-salted, and the tender meat slides right off the bone. All the dishes are scrumptious, so be sure to share.
No one would fault you if you wanted to head back into The Hidden Pearl after your meal for a little post-dinner nightcap. Given the bar’s sunroof, the tone of the room shifts beautifully with the changing hours. Regardless of time of day, The Hidden Pearl provides a sleek and chic getaway.
Most importantly, they uses metal straws. Hallelujah, hallelujah.