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Oct 21, 2006 06:45 PM

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.



                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.


                                      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