Quest to Finding Manhattan’s Best Spicy Roe Pasta

Spicy roe spaghetti, also known as Spaghetti Mentaiko, is a popular and easy-to-make Japanese dish typically comprised of spicy roe, butter, Japanese mayonnaise, spaghetti, and nori for garnish. Many Japanese restaurants serve this inexpensive pasta so it became a mission for me to find the best spicy roe pasta in Manhattan. I decided to pick three places – Basta Pasta, Riki, and Tomi. In my mind the two important characteristics of this dish were the noodles and the spicy roe sauce.

First Round: Basta Pasta

They call it Spaghetti con Uova di Pesce ($15), topped with shiso. The spaghetti was cooked very well; it was al dente which provided a great chewy texture to the entire dish. However, I felt that the sauce itself was not as creamy or flavorful as I would have liked in a Spaghetti Mentaiko dish. The fish roe seemed to be similar to those on your sushi rolls, and doesn’t flavor the pasta as much as it needs.

Second Round: Riki

As an unassuming item within a large assortment of foods on the menu, their version of the Spaghetti with Spicy Cod Roe ($8.50) had a good mix of cream to roe ratio. The roe seemed to have absorbed some cream to give it a fatty, rich flavor. However the noodles were a different story. I wouldn’t call what they used spaghetti by any means, but more like Chinese oil noodles. In any case, Riki’s version is something I am willing to return for, but probably not my first choice.

Third Round: Tomi

Last, but not the least, is Tomi’s version of Spaghetti Mentaiko (price unknown). From what I heard, Tomi has the best spicy roe pasta but I wanted to see and experience that for myself. This unassuming Japanese whiskey bar does serve food, this dish being one of their selections. It is surprising how good food can come out of bars; oftentimes, the most secluded ones are the hidden gems. In this case, that proves to be true. Their spaghetti was actually spaghetti – though not as al dente as Basta Pasta’s – but is comparable. Then the spicy roe sauce was very enjoyable. It had a good amount of that unami flavor in combination with the thick texture and richness of the cream. My final rating is 8.5 / 10.0. I definitely intend on going back again to eat this, and have some quality whiskey on the side.

Basta Pasta
37 West 17th Street
New York, NY 10011
(212) 366-0888

141 East 45th Street
New York, NY 10017
(212) 986-1109‎

Tomi NY
239 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022
(646) 497-1254‎

5 responses to “Quest to Finding Manhattan’s Best Spicy Roe Pasta”

  1. You should try it out. I’ll be posting my own recipe very soon…so make sure to come back! =)

  2. Tried this for the first time @ Typhoon and it was delicious. Didn’t even realize this dish existed, thanks for blogging about this.

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