Location: 53rd St. (btw 8th 9th Ave)
It’s interesting to me that the Japanese Ramen has a level of maturity and complexity that makes it a gourmet type food. Different types of broth, high quality meats, and homemade noodles have all contributed to elevating this food into a higher class than the instant stuff many of us have grown to love. I love the instant Korean ramen, but why hasn’t anyone made a gourmet Korean Ramen shop with noodles made in house with some long simmered broth delicious as those Korean soups at the Korean restaurants? I digress, but until someone comes up with this Korean Ramen restaurant idea I have plenty of Japanese Ramen shops that I adore to keep me busy.
Only if my #1 spot Ippudo didn’t have the crazy wait time at the restaurant I would call it my goto Ramen spot. I can’t justify waiting 1+ hour to get my bowl of Akamaru Modern Ramen, so I really wanted to find a quick and delicious spot to fill me up with Japanese ramen goodness. Up until now this is my top 5 in terms of pure quality:
- Menchanko Tei
- Men Kui Tei
- Rai Rai Ken
- Momofuku Noodle Bar & Naruto Ramen (tie)
So, with the suggestion from Eliza’s friend Soo, the three of us made a visit to the recently opened Totto Ramen, and it looked like the #2 spot was going to change. I was always a huge fan of the Totto empire (Yakitori/Soba) and I didn’t expect them to do less in terms of quality at their new joint. So they went ahead and hired Chef Hideto Kawahara, who owns several ramen shops in Japan’s Fukuoka prefecture. The difference in the Ramen at Totto is that they specialize in a creamy chicken broth (paitan) , although the miso and shoyu broths are available for those that can’t handle the chickeness.
I have to admit there was something about the smooth flavor of the chicken broth that I loved. I like that it wasn’t too salty, but had a nice balance to it with an adequate amount of kick from the chili paste. The noodles were absolute perfection and they provided the perfect quantity of noodles to ease my hunger. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to finish my noodles first or keep on sipping my broth, it really was that good.
Considering we got our food in literally 2 minutes from the time we ordered our food, we paid and we’re out of the restaurant in 30mins total. That is what you call good quality fast food! Everything from the service, ambiance, and quality of food was top notch and felt authentically Japanese.
So I repeat once again can someone please do a take on gourmet Korean Ramen…David Chang? Someone?