Dining in NY: The Best Ramen Restaurants in New York City
Where should you go for the best ramen in NYC?
Akamaru Modern is THE ramen to get at Ippudo. If it's your first time here, don't get sidetracked by the Classic Ramen or any shoyu (soy sauce based) ramen. You can and should only get the Akamaru Modern ($15).
The Tonkotsu broth is to die for. Thick and full of deep multiple levels of flavor. The overall taste is not too spicy either. It does tend to have garlic and onion flavors but not overwhelmingly so. The noodles are thin and elegant but not soggy or doughy. There is the perfect amount of toppings from menma to sprouts to scallions. The pork pieces are also excellent. They literally melt in your mouth. Overall, this is probably the best, most balanced, elegant, yet fulfilling and full-bodied ramen you're going to find New York City. You will want to finish it to the last drop.
The restaurant itself is exciting to visit. Be ready for a long line. But the bar at the entrance will definitely keep you happy. Try the Yuzu Citrus Sake ($8), Maiko (Sake, Cassis, Cranberry Juice - $8), or the classic Oolong High ($7). And if you're hungry, get pork Hirata Buns ($9). They're soft flaky white buns filled with char siu pork with spicy sauce. These too, melt in your mouth and are a must get at Ippudo if it's your first time.
Once you're called to be seated, you walk down a short hallway into the dining area. You'll be greeted loudly. I personally love the welcome. If you go with just one other person, you'll most likely be seated with others at larger table, but it's not a big deal. If you get lucky, you might be seated in the back area around the corner where there are smaller tables and a more intimate feel. The atmosphere is fun and loungy. A great place for a date with a fun and adventurous type that appreciates sophistication.
Ippudo is located at 65 4th Ave (between 9th St & 10th St).
Totto's Spicy Ramen ($10.50) is the clear winner on their menu of options .
The broth is not as full or heavy as Ippudo's, but it isn't really fair to compare. This is a wholly different specimen of ramen. The balance of the broth with the spicy oil is what makes this ramen unique. The tons of scallions and crunchy bean sprouts that are thrown in really heighten the flavor. The noodles are thicker and have a great chew, but they are also not soggy, doughy, or starchy feeling. The pork here is also thicker cut and rougher to the bite. It doesn't exactly melt in your mouth, but it has a good hearty feel to it. Overall, a unique ramen with few frills but more than excellent essential ingredients.
The restaurant is a whole in the wall with a great vibe. The chefs basically cook behind the bar. You can see the huge ramen pots steaming. In the summer, it gets insanely hot especially when the chef turns on the blow torch for the tuna or sea urchin dishes. In the winter, it's insanely warm inside.
Also, be prepared for a line. Once in, you'll either be seated at the bar or at the small tables in the back. It's a very cozy and lively atmosphere. Also a great place for an fearless, adventurous date.
If you're thirsty, definitely get a Hakushika Extra Dry Sake ($6) or a Karatamba Sake (8) with your ramen. The clear stuff comes in a large glass that you won't regret.
Totto Ramen is located at 366 West 52nd St (between 8th & 9th Ave).
Minca's #3 Basic Ramen ($10.50) is also number three on our list, but definitely the winner off of their menu.
This ramen is a complete meal. The broth is not too heavy or light. It's just a perfect fit. The noodles are not overly thin or thick. They're in between. They're still great noodles. Good chewiness and not starchy. The pork is not melt in your mouth or demanding of a good bite, but it is pleasant. Overall, this is a good, pleasant, easy to eat ramen. While some may say Ippudo's Akamaru Modern is too heavy on the broth and too light on the noodles and toppings, Minca's #3 is super balanced in comparison. And while some may say Totto's Spicy Ramen is too spicy yet also plain in its approach, Minca's #3 is a genial crowd pleaser. Overall, this ramen does not disappoint. In a sense it's the ultimate fast food ramen that hits all the right spots.
The same feeling runs through the restaurant. It has small table seating, bar seating, and the fun seat in front of the window, which is my favorite spot in the place. The atmosphere is more casual, less hip and trendy, more family friendly.
There is somewhat of a line depending on when you arrive, but not at a crazy level. Overall, it's a great place for friends and a casual date.
The same goes for drinks. The best to get here is a reliable Sapporo ($5).
Minca Ramen is located at 536 East 5th St (between Ave A & Ave B).
I hope this guide will serve you well. I would love to know what you think about my recommendations. Loved it? Hated it? Contact me and let me know!
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