Vibe Rater: Ramen Setagaya, 141 First Avenue

The first U.S. branch of Japanese noodle chain Ramen Setagaya sticks out pleasantly on First Avenue in the East Village.

At 2 p.m. on Thursday, the bright, sparsely adorned place had a distinctly, well, Japanese feel to it: blaring Japanese pop music, customers reading Japanese newspapers, a Japanese game show on the flat-screen—and, of course, oddly filling Japanese food.

And that’s the thing about Ramen Setagaya: the emphasis on eating.

Aside from the flat-screen and the big windows, there’s not much to behold; and diners, hunched over steaming bowls of salty broth, seemed to like it that way. In a New York of gimmicky eateries—especially ones with foreign origins—this humble little noodle shop in an unlikely location felt almost perfect for a nosh.