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Best noodles in the city (ramen)

Ive been to Momofuko and I was hoping to hit some more noodle joints this week. Any suggestions?

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  1. Men Kui Tei is my favorite, 56th and 6th. They have another location I've never been to.

    This has been discussed a lot here, just do a search. I haven't eaten at a lot of the other favorites mentioned, but Menchanko Tei is also good but less divey and not quite as consistant in my experience.

    21 Replies
    1. re: belbiv

      The other location is 63 Cooper Sq. near 6th St. The menkui ramen is superb.

      1. re: Desidero

        I'm a regular. I think their gyozu might deserve the "superb" designation; they're certainly really tasty. However, I consider their ramen simply OK.

        1. re: Desidero

          I was always a bit leery of the place but if its good, I'd check it out; I didn't know it was affiliated with the midtown branch.

          1. re: bigjeff

            I just saw that I misspelled "gyoza." Oh well...

            1. re: Pan

              thank goodness spelling doesnt count here, or i'd be in big trouble

          2. re: Desidero

            I went to this place last week on the recommendation of this thread and I thought the ramen was just ok and not at all special.

            Momofuku's broth and meat wipe the floor with this stuff. I can't speak to authenticity, but when it comes to flavor, Momo takes it hands down.

            Also stopped by Rai Rai Ken and was turned off by the atmosphere. Momofuku is crowded, but this place is ridiculous.

            Do I actually have to go to midtown to beat Momofuku's ramen? SIgh.

            1. re: oolah

              What's wrong with the atmosphere at Rai Rai Ken?

              1. re: KTinNYC

                Super crowded, with a crowd that looked almost exclusively like broke NYU students. Also most of the seating was at a bar, so it was not conducive to eating with a friend.

                1. re: oolah

                  it's a noodle shop. you should be eating at a bar. yeesh.

                1. re: oolah

                  Agreed. Went to Men Kui Tei based on the reccos. Not even close to Momofuku. The broth was dull, not as sharply defined as momo's. Same with the pork. Will try the other reccomendations.

                  Men Kui Tei
                  60 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

              2. re: belbiv

                Be wary of Menchanko Tei, however. The one on 45th Street is an order of magnitude or two better than the one on 55th Street.


                NYCnosh* http://nycnosh.com

                1. re: Nosher

                  Funny I thought exactly the opposite.

                  1. re: Nosher

                    I have to disagree with Nosher too. I compared the two Menchanko Tei, and the soup on 45th tastes like instant noodles! I wouldn't be surprised if they use MSG... Definitely go to the one on 55th.

                    My list of ramen places:

                    Love: 55th St Menchanko's Hakata Ramen (milky, smooth pork broth). 1/2 order pictured below.

                    Like: Sapporo's miso ramen broth is not as refined as hakata, but still better than the 45th St Menchanko Tei.

                    Like: Momofuku's noodles have great texture, and the soup packs a flavorful punch, but is too salty to slurp and fully enjoy.

                    Dislike: Minca, although great, just does not suit my taste... a little on the salty side and too garlicky (?!)

                    Dislike: Ramen Setagaya, another great ramen place that just does not suit my taste. It's best for Shio Ramen (clear salt broth), but b/c the soup is made with seaweed and dried seafoods (e.g. scallops), you really taste "the sea".


                    1. re: misschopsticks

                      "Momofuku's noodles have great texture"

                      I have to disagree. I think the texture of the noodles are awful. They are mushy and have no bite to them.

                      1. re: KTinNYC

                        Definitely agree with you there!

                        1. re: KTinNYC

                          I was curious to see so many people say momofuku's noodles don't have great texture, so I went back last night to confirm for myself... and it's sad but true! Did something happen after they moved? I remember their noodles were better tasting before. This time around, their broth was lackluster, their noodles had no bite, and it was still too salty. Very disappointing... I felt so bad leaving so much behind in the bowl!

                          Only thing worthwhile getting at momofuku is their pork belly.

                          1. re: misschopsticks

                            The noodles have been lousy since day one. I live right around the corner and the noodles are mushy and without texture no matter what time of the day or night they are ordered.

                            1. re: KTinNYC

                              And the noodles there are still lousy . I was extremely disappointed recently. Having paid 12 dollars for noodles, one does not expect lousy overboiled noodles. If Momo was in Asia, it would close in a day. Sorry to say it but people who go there don't know good noodles so they can get away with serving mushy noodles.

                              1. re: dec111

                                The funny thing about the Momofuko's is that what they are named for is the weakest dish on the menu. For example noodles at noodle bar are awful and the Ssam wasn't very good either. Stick to other things on the menu and you will have a very good meal.

                      1. re: Liquid Sky

                        I went to MINCA Ramen Factory today and had a pretty good experience. I ordered the Minca Ramen. It had a very rich dark broth that was very flavorful (albeit a bit too salty). The noodles were perfect in size and texture.

                        1. re: Liquid Sky

                          Another vote for Minca. I love their rich, porky broth. Like Setagaya ramen as well. I find most ramen broths in NYC to be salty w/out any other flavor.

                        2. Rai rai ken (E 10th, 1st/2nd) is reliable and WAY better than momofuku. Get the shio ramen and a side of sliced roast pork (with marinated scallions).

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: kenito799

                            I second Rai Rai Ken. I've been there dozens of times and it has been great each time.

                            1. re: windupbird

                              Rai Rai Ken is a staple for me! Will not be disappointed. Well priced and nice atmosphere.

                            2. re: kenito799

                              I didn't think their ramen was anything special, but do like their curry rice. I like the Hakata ramen at Menchanko-Tai on 45th. The roast pork is excellent.

                            3. Ramen is one of those difficult foods to keep consistent. Although it's been a while, Chikubu's Friday shoyu ramen is probably the most consistently well executed ramen in NYC. Actually, I can't tell you the last time I've had really good ramen in NYC. My last couple times at Minca were terrible. I had one of my worst Japanese meals in NYC at the Cooper Square Menkuitei, and will be very reluctant to ever revisit them. Menkuitei on 56th St has been on a downward spiral for a long while. It's just OK. I'd rather just eat their curry. Sapporo might be a notch below Menkuitei, though I find their miso ramen acceptable. Ise on 49th Street was once a secret among Japanese expats for their niboshi ramen, but their quality seems to have diminished as well. I had two very mediocre experiences at Rai Rai Ken, and gave up on them, but I'm hearing some chatter that things may have improved over there. I'll give them a try soon, but I won't keep my hopes up. Menchanko-tei seems to be doing some different things with their ramen, but the shoyu ramen was inedible the last time I tried it, and the tonkotsu is pretty weak. I'd take my chances with their tsukemen instead. If you're going to Menchanko-tei, you might as well go to Hizen, which serves a slightly better tonkotsu ramen. Actually, I would take the Port Authority bus to Mitsuwa and go to Santouka to have a very good shio-tonkotsu ramen.

                              I'm pretty much jaded by the ramen situation, and have begun to just make my own. It's one of the most difficult things I've probably ever made, and I've developed a new respect for shops that can make their ramen with great consistency. I attribute the sad state of NY ramen to the high turnover in the industry, which must affect the ability to keep any sort of consistency, which is absolutely mandatory since every little misstep made in the process is magnified further along the process. Luckily, I'll be in Japan next month, so I'll get my fill there.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: E Eto

                                generally agree with you, i usually go to either setagaya (pain in the ass wait though someitmes) or rockmeisha (their tonkotsu is decent

                              2. My wife is Japanese and works in Manhattan, within striking distance of many Japanese places that serve ramen. We live in Brklyn, but nevertheless, nearly every weekend she asks to shuttle over to New Jersey to eat at Santouka. Which is not to say that it is the pinnacle of ramen (though it is a top tier ramen chain in Japan), it's just that Santouka makes the most authentic, tastiest, most consistent quality soup in the area.

                                I'm pretty much in lockstep with EE on the ramen scene in NYC. It just falls way short of what we deserve. In 2002 I spent several months working at a Japanese company in mid-town. Every Friday was designated "Ramen Day" where a group of us would venture out and slurp our way through NYC's offerings. We went to Chikubu (strange name by the way), Menkui, Manchanko, Hizen, Sapporo, and others. The only place we felt even mildly compelled to return to was Sapporo for the miso ramen, but even then it was considered "imai-ichi" which is an expression meaning something like "falls short". The absolute worst experience was ordering miso ramen somewhere and recieving miso soup with soba noodles....Rai Rai Ken I tried in the evening one night with a Japanese buddy and we both walked out in the middle of the meal.

                                Momofuku was no good. There wasn't anything to the soup and it just seemed like a platform for the bland tasting pork on top. Minca I've now tried all of their soups. The tonkotsu is nothing there and the miso is made with peanut butter, which I'm not sure I'm willing to accept as palatable when thinking about it.

                                Chikubu, Menchanko, Menkui, Sapporo, they're all serviceable ramens. They're not nifty chowhound finds or destinations in my book, but merely restaurants that serve Japanese style ramen. Which leads to Eric's point that to produce consistently quality ramen soup, requires a certain level of dedication. So maybe I should give Rai Rai Ken another go, since it is at least a place dedicated to the dish.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: Silverjay

                                  I have yet to try Chikabu, but I agree that Santouka is the best of what's nearby. I recommend going right before they close before 9, the broth is even stronger and tastier.

                                  You guys should give Rockmeisha a try if you like a really heavy tonkotsu broth.

                                  I have a friend from Osaka who swears by Saburi, but I've only tried their Hiyashi Chuuka, which was good, but not as good as Santouka's Hiyashi Ramen.

                                  I've also overheard nearby diners at Tsukushi that the ramen offered at the end is very good as well.

                                  1. re: Ricky

                                    Thanks for the tips on Rockmeisha and Saburi. I'll bump them to the top of my "to try" list. I could certainly do for some more research...

                                    1. re: Silverjay

                                      FWIW, I tried both Saburi and Rockmeisha and neither one is exactly wonderful. I always forget about Rockmeisha, and their tonkotsu ramen is pretty good by NY standards, but I'm reluctant to pay almost $10 for a puny bowl of ramen. I've given Saburi a few tries, and after my first horrid experience with their ramen, the second experience was better (I think I had their Shio ramen the second time around), but still kind of flat, and not worth posting about. I hadn't heard about Tsukushi's ramen at all, but I've heard from a few sources about their curry rice, but that wasn't anything worth posting about either. Still jaded.

                                      Rockmeisha: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...
                                      Saburi: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                                      1. re: E Eto

                                        The curry rice at Tsukushi was nothing to write home about, it was solid, thats about it. Menkueitei's in midtown was much better.

                                  2. re: Silverjay

                                    I've been to Rai Rai Ken a few times and again, I just find it OK, and nothing to write home about. I think it's even a notch worse than Menchanko et al (lower quality noodles). It's ok for ramen fast food but as a foodie destination, nahh.

                                    1. re: jeanki

                                      I really liked the hiyashi chuka at Rai Rai Ken a lot, much more so than the one at Menchanko Tei (45th st.). Too bad it's seasonal

                                  3. Im giving Rai Rai Ken a go. Thanks for the heads up guys!!

                                    1. My favorite noodles in the city are are ONY on 6th avenue a little bit below 8th street. I don't really know about the shoyu ramen or any of their food, since the first time I was there, I tried the Hakata ramen and have been back about twice a month for the past couple years. Not sure exactly what the broth is made of, but its white and cloudy.

                                      1. I also love Ony on 6th Ave just north of the W4 subway stop. That's where I learned what menchanko even was. It's low key and tasty and—if you get the curry menchanko—real spicy. The edamame is a-okay too.

                                        1. Ugh, Ony shut down. Sad day, hurt cry!!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: hotpot1

                                            No! I was planning on hitting it next week! F&%$#! RIP.

                                          2. Oh.... But I went to the Menchanko-Tei on 55th Street between 5/6 Ave. I think its part of the same chain, and they have the hakata ramen. I went today. Ohhhh so tasty.

                                            1. Enjoyed the Friday ramen special today at Chikubu. I got there early so the wait was minimal. The clientele is almost exclusively Japanese salarymen. I must say the ramen was very good. Hard to proclaim it the best in the city but I would say it is better than Hizen, Rai Rai Ken, Momofuku and Mechanko-Tei. I'm going to try Minca this weekend to see how it stacks up.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: jwobkk

                                                ^^I gotta hit Chikubu this Friday. Anyone have any info as to why Friday lunch seems to be the time that ramen is eaten most?

                                                1. re: JOSHBRWN

                                                  Ramen is only served on Fridays there.

                                              2. Ramen King
                                                273 W 38th St
                                                New York, NY 10018
                                                (212) 764-3122

                                                Anyone ever been?

                                                8 Replies
                                                1. re: BohFoisSelecta

                                                  Ramen King is horrible, they use instant ramen.

                                                    1. re: BohFoisSelecta

                                                      well there are really good instant ramens out there like goota, raoh, ippudo, but this is more like sapporo ichiban broth with cheap nori, a boiled egg, and bad cha shu.

                                                      1. re: Ricky

                                                        ah, thanks for the heads up. I may just go anyway, just to say that I went.

                                                    2. re: Ricky

                                                      While I believe you didn't have a good experience there, I liked the little feature that Japion, the Japanese language weekly paper, ran on the King Ramen (Jan 26 issue). According to them, King Ramen is a ramen shop that specializes in Hokkaido style miso ramen. And their noodles are flown in especially for them from a supplier in Japan. They also serve the noodles katamen (firm). While it's good to see another ramen contender in NYC, I'll have to judge for myself whether it passes muster. Rather than rely on hyperbole, I prefer that posters would perhaps be guided by some factual information, whether it's positive or negative. It doesn't serve Chowhounds to get information so eggregiously false.

                                                      1. re: E Eto

                                                        Thank you for posting that E Eto. Your commitment to exactitude in things ramen should be noted by all readers. :)

                                                        Does the Japion feature say what exactly makes the ramen Hokkaido style?

                                                        1. re: E Eto

                                                          The Japion spot is basically a press release. In the past Japion has had similar spots on Ajisen, Korean restaurants from Japanese NY Guide Books. A press release can put a positive spin on anything. A box of dried Sapporo Ichiban labeled "made in japan" can constitute noodles flown from a supplier in japan, can't it?

                                                    3. Is the wait at Rai Rai Ken anything like Momofuku? Ramen sounds perfect for tonight, but I am *so* not waiting outside for a table...

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: oolah

                                                        The place sits about 15, but it's usually much less of a wait. Get there early to avoid the rush.

                                                      2. Making the ramen tour of Manhattan and last night took down Minca in the East Village...overall pretty good. Shoyu Ramen was nice, pork gyoza was great and the shrimp gyoza was interesting. Really hard to say which ramen place is the "best in Manhattan". I enjoy Chikubu on Friday, Rai Rai Ken anytime, Hizen for the lunch special with gyoza and Minca if I feel like venturing to the East Village. None of these approach Tokyo quality but that isn't a surprise right? I wouldn't expect New York quality pizza in Tokyo.

                                                        1. please tell me what the rai rai ken appeal is. i've been there once and i was so disappointed, i almost walked out in the middle of my dish. the soup was super thick and super salty. i felt that it wasn't very authentic (yes, i am japanese) or even good (authentic and delicious does not necessarily go together).

                                                          i still like men kui tei. i'm not a big fan of menchankotei's thick noodles, but i can't remember if they use that noodle in their ramen or just in their menchanko. minca is in the same line as rai rai ken - soup too thick and salty.

                                                          i really need to go try sapporo and chikubu. both sounds tasty, albeit being very out of the way for me.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: mrock

                                                            Menchanko-tei just uses the thick noodles in the menchanko. The ramen's noodles are finer.

                                                            1. re: mrock

                                                              I have eaten at rai rai ken numerous times and soup has never been super thick or super salty. I order the seafood one which I find has a wonderful broth.

                                                              1. re: piccola

                                                                I've been eating the miso ramen at sapporo for about 12 years now. The gyoza is quite good, and the miso ramen is also very good. There is something slightly polluted about the taste which keeps it from being totally satisfying such as Santoka.

                                                              2. Santoka is by far the best ramen in the nyc area. The broth is vibrant and lively. The pork is gorgeous.

                                                                1. The report from Ramen King on 38th:


                                                                  1. I have sad news, Ramen King is closed. There is a note on the door saying that they will be re-opening at an undisclosed location.

                                                                    1. I finally made the trek to New Jersey to sample Santoka...definitely a solid bowl of ramen and very worthy of the acclaim it recieves on this board. I will be back for more soon!!!

                                                                      1. I find the ramen at Ippudo far suerior to momofuko. I like Ippudo better than Setagaya also. However, I like the pork buns better at Momofuko than at Ippudo. Maybe its the mayonnaise that ruin that for me at Ippudo.

                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                        1. re: foodwhisperer

                                                                          I agree with you foodwhisperer...the ramen noodles at ippudo is the best I've tasted in the city. However, their pork buns are inferior to Momo's.

                                                                          1. re: Scotty100

                                                                            Ippudo's ramen may be good, but the entire dish itself (Akamaru Modern) just blows away any other ramen dish in the city. The broth is just that gorgeous.

                                                                          2. re: foodwhisperer

                                                                            I have to disagree with you on Ippudo superiority. Ippudo uses instant ramen noodle instead of fresh hand made. if you want some good ramen, go across the hudson river to Edgewater, NJ. Santouko. they make fresh ramen there.

                                                                            1. re: mlbayley

                                                                              Santouka's noodles are shipped from Japan. Ippudo's noodles are made in house, you can even see the noodle making machines through windows near the bathrooms.

                                                                              1. re: Ricky

                                                                                What is the new place opening up on University by 1th street? Have a friend who moved here from Tokyo 4yrs ago and needs his fix of noodles and soup.

                                                                          3. Had a nice bowl at Zen on St Marks today... kinda surprised.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: Flaco

                                                                              I didn't see any mention of Gyukaku here-I love thier ramen with egg floating on top-served in a very hot stone bowl to keep soup hot throughout the whole meal. They have several varieties to choose from. I usually have a meal first and use the ramen as my "last" course-to sober me up from all thier delicious sakes and sojus(Korean "vodka")

                                                                            2. looking specifically for curry ramen, any recs? would love to dig into a bowl of thick curry with some delicious noodles (served on the side? or in the same bowl?) or is it more like a curry ramen soup (more liquid?)

                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                              1. re: bigjeff

                                                                                "Midtown West mainstay Sapporo (152 W 49th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves, 212-869-8972) has been serving top-notch noodles since before it was cool." <--just read that somewhere, sending me here...

                                                                                I ate at Sapporo last week after a significant hiatus, and was disappointed. So I ask this oft-revived ramen thread, Are they watering down the broth or something? The miso ramen was pale and thin, although the noodles were okay. Did I get a bad night? The same chef who's been there since at least the mid-90s was still directing behind the counter.

                                                                                I ate there almost once a week (if not more) for 10 years, but I don't work nearby anymore. The Sapporo Miso Special Ramen was rather exactly consistent for years previous. Have the bigger flavors of the nuevo ramen places like Momofuku ruined me? I really really thought I knew exactly what Sapporo put out, following years of repetition.

                                                                                @bigjeff Brothy version of green curry ramen at ZuzuRamen in Bklyn is very very pleasant - Thai basil garnish, yum. They pack it very nicely to go too...noodles apart from soup.

                                                                                152 W 49th St, New York, NY 10019

                                                                                1. re: pitu

                                                                                  sapporo's ramen isn't all that good, i never thought it was amazing or anything, i mean is passable, but you're not going to be blown away by it

                                                                                  what is good at sapporo is their cha han (fried rice) and their gyoza

                                                                                  1. re: Lau

                                                                                    yes, the gyoza rice (salad + gyoza + bowl of plain rice) is a nice light meal
                                                                                    or at least it used to be...still wondering if things have downgraded there. Have you been recently Lau?

                                                                                    1. re: pitu

                                                                                      to be fair i haven't been in a while, so its always possible that things have degraded

                                                                              2. Ippudo is our favorite!

                                                                                1. aside from Misschopstick's specific rec of hakata ramen at Menchanko-Tei 55, does anyone else have recs for navigating their menu? I'm going there tomorrow night (not by choice) and I want to make the most of what could be a mediocre situation (from what I read). any thoughts? tasty non-ramen options?

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: bigjeff

                                                                                    I find it best to stay away from the ramen at Menchanko-Tei and stick with their specialty, the menchanko dishes.

                                                                                    1. re: E Eto

                                                                                      but of course! thank you my man, perfect.

                                                                                  2. Ippudo is best but most expensive. Minca + Kambi fall close second. Momofuku is dead last not because of taste but because it is soooooo overhyped.

                                                                                    536 E 5th St, New York, NY 10009

                                                                                    65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

                                                                                    351 E 14th St, New York, NY 10003

                                                                                    1. I had Momofuku recently after not having had it for a few years. I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was, much better than I remember from earlier visits. I had found the noodles to be too soft, but now they are pleasantly chewy. The broth too was excellent, rich and porky with scallion and nori toppings adding to the experience. The pork belly was good as well.

                                                                                      I think they have definitely improved their ramen.

                                                                                      1. One of my personal favorites (before I moved to Japan), believe it or not, was the Tonkotsu Ramen at Yakitori Taisho. I was hooked on the stuff whenever I went there. Although there were times when the chashuu was a bit disappointing (cold, if not partly frozen even), which kinda brought the level of that meal down as well. But in general, it was my favorite before all these ramen places like Ippudo and Minca, etc. opened up.

                                                                                        I also used to hit up Menkuitei as well as Menchanko-tei as well. I always ordered the tonkotsu ramen and both restaurants were pretty good, consistent and have been around for ages. Also hit up Ajisen (a Japanese chain) in Chinatown pretty often. Not sure if it is still around though, since no one has mentioned it, but I thought they were pretty good.

                                                                                        I used to work at RaiRaiKen for a short stint and thought at the time they had decent ramen at the time, so I have to give them a mention, but one thing for sure I thought that their gyoza rocked. Mind you this is going back over 7 years ago so don't know if anything has changed (My taste buds or the shop's food)

                                                                                        Many swear by Minca and I went there once shortly after they opened up (going back over 6 years now I guess) but I really didn't think much of it. I love ramen, and thought of becoming a ramen chef myself, but Minca failed to inspire me at the time, same for Momofuku which I thought was alright.

                                                                                        But I guess if we are thinking of the "Best" currently in the city, maybe Ippudo may be one of the top contenders, judging from my experience as well as seeing other's posts about it. I only ate there once, while visiting NY, and the meal was pretty good. Although it wasn't as good compared to the Ippudo shops I eat at in Japan. I don't know what it was exactly but something was just missing in the taste, but thought it was pretty good nevertheless.

                                                                                        I'll have to hit up some of these other places that are mentioned on this thread as well as re-try some others next time I go back to NYC.

                                                                                        By the way those who love ramen and have not yet seen the movie "Tampopo", check it out.

                                                                                        14 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                                                                                        536 E 5th St, New York, NY 10009

                                                                                        Yakitori Taisho
                                                                                        5 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003

                                                                                        65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: sonik212

                                                                                          Totto Ramen on 52nd and 8th is really good. Short simple menu, super welcoming.

                                                                                          Totto Ramen
                                                                                          366 W 52nd St, New York, NY 10019