Ramen is one of the things I love most in life and NYC, with its large Japanese community, is a great place to eat it. These are some of the best places I went to:
Totto Ramen (Low Intermediate A+), 366 W 52nd St, www.tottoramen.com
This place in Hell’s kitchen was my favourite. The service is good and the ramen broth is excellent and quite unusual (A).
I had the Pork Miso Paitan which consisted of wavy noodles with ground pork, half boiled egg, scallions, bean sprouts, onions, char siu pork, topped with Koji miso bean paste.
Paitan translates as ‘milky broth’. The fat and collagen from animal bones (probably chicken and pork) give it an opaque milky white colour and a viscous taste in the mouth.
Koji refers to the culture, aspergillus oryzae, which is a time honored means of fermentation in Japan.
With a bottle of my favourite Japanese beer, Sapporo Black Label, I was in heaven.
Ippudo Ramen (Low Intermediate A), 65 4th Ave, www.ippudony.com
Part of an international chain, this place in the East Village is one of the best ramen bars in town and very popular. To beat the queues I arrived at 11.30 on a weekday but I would have still been okay if I’d arrived at 12.
I had the Shiromaru Hakata Classic; a tonkotsu (pork bone) broth with cha siu pork loin, sesame kikurage mushooms, scallions, menma and red pickled ginger. It was fantastic; top notch stock and quality cha siu pork (A).
Kikurage are also known as Cloud Ear mushrooms and are very common in Chinese cuisine. Menma are fermented bamboo shoots.
The Brooklyn draught beer served here is good but a bit pricey at $6 for a half.
Ippudo is definitely worth coming to but Totto is better in my opinion.
Sapporo Ramen (Low Intermediate B+), 152 W. 49th St, www.sapporo-nyc.com
This place in Midtown is also well renowned. I had the Chashu Miso Ramen with cha siu pork, minced pork, sweet corn, scallions, bean sprouts and nira leek (garlic chives) with extra Thai chilli, which was very good (B+).
Unfortunately the Gyoza I had on the side let the side down as they were a bit cold (B).
Also the Sapporo draught had a bit of an unpleasant aftertaste (B-).
There are of course many more great ramen bars in town. If you type ‘ramen’ into the search box of my Google map, you’ll get a few more.
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