Thursday, December 29, 2011

Totto Ramen

I recently stopped by Tokyo on my way out of the country for the holidays, so it only makes sense that the next place I would end up eating ramen in was my home city of New York.  Now, like a true New Yorker, I usually savor my time at home with a bagel for brunch, pizza for lunch, and, let's be honest, pizza for dinner.  These days ramen has been getting popular in New York, so I felt it was my duty to try a bowl and see how it compares to ramen in Japan.

I did some research to figure out which place to check out.  I knew I didn't want to go to a shop that was originally from Japan - that feels like cheating, and I'd already been to the Ippudo in New York anyway.  More of the shops were Japanese chains than I thought: Rairaiken, Misoya, Hidechan are all from the mother country.  I narrowed it down to two places: Totto Ramen and Momofuku Noodle Bar.  I haven't been to any Momofuku, and I'd love to check out the noodle bar, but I thought that a comparison with a more classic ramen shop would be more appropriate.  Totto it was.

I headed over there with my brother and a couple friends, and not-so-surprisingly found a decently long line.  Waiting on line for ramen is nothing new to me, but I was shocked by how long the wait was.  We were there for a good hour and a half before being able to sit, albeit separately.  I think that's the longest I've ever waited for ramen, come to think of it.

Totto specializes in chicken-based ramen, and there are a number of different variations you can order.  After chatting with the waiter a little bit about ramen in Tokyo and Japan vs New York, I asked him for a recommendation and settled on the chicken miso ramen, forcing my brother to get the spicy chicken ramen so I could try some.

366 W 52nd St

The Bowl
The broth was a thin but rich chicken soup.  It got a bit thicker and grainier after I mixed the miso in, and while I've had better chicken ramen in Japan, it was still quite good.  The noodles were medium-thick curly yellow noodles, a bit firmer than I usually get in Japan.  They reminded me a bit of lo mein even.  The chashu was quite good; it was a little chewy and tasted like it was barbecued.  Otherwise in the bowl were bean sprouts, an egg, and scallions.

Would I Go Again?
I'm not in New York very often, so if I try ramen there again, I'll probably pick another place.

Should You Go?
Totto Ramen was quite good, and while I wouldn't put it at the same rank as my favorite places in Japan, it's easily worth a trip.  If you're in New York, and you have time to wait on line, go to Totto!

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