HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >
What are you cooking today? Share your food adventure

Momofuku Noodle vs. Setagaya

Jel212 Jun 19, 2007 02:01 PM

I love Momofuku. Excited to try Setagaya - has anyone tried it?

  1. n
    Negaduck Nov 29, 2009 12:45 AM

    Momofuku and Ippudo both serve their egg hard-boiled. Does any ramen place serve the egg a bit runny inside?

    1. z
      zweito Nov 23, 2009 02:16 PM

      Noodles at Setagaya are better than your average NYC joints where generic supermarket off-shelf noodles are used. For instance, noodles at Momofuku Noodle Bar are off-shelf, mush even if I request al dente. The problem with Setagaya,over the years I visited, is quality control, especially the broth, which varies by day or time of the day you visit. The same for the grilled pork as toppings. Stick with shio ramen if you are at the place

      1 Reply
      1. re: zweito
        tycho Nov 24, 2009 01:04 PM

        "Noodles at Setagaya are better than your average NYC joints where generic supermarket off-shelf noodles are used. For instance, noodles at Momofuku Noodle Bar are off-shelf, mush even if I request al dente."

        Setagaya uses premade noodles from a box. If fact they often have the boxes out in the kitchen so you can see. Think about how large the average setagaya is - you think theyre rolling out noodles in there? The only ramen shop i know in NYC that makes all their own noodles in ippudo. Setagaya, Kambi, Minca all use bought in.

      2. t
        tonkatsuuu Jan 9, 2008 01:31 PM

        I have been to both and Setagaya, hands down, is the best ramen place in the city. It seems that there are different types of ramen..I would group Momofuku's ramen together with the Rai Rai Ken's, Sapporo's, and Menchanko-Tei. Setagaya's is very unique, especially within new york city. I would also suggest getting the separated noodles (you dip the noodles into the broth) as the noodle texture is thick, chewy, a little eggy, and al dente. Also note that there isn't much to their menu -- the choice is basically between combined or separated, there are deluxes on the menu which mean you can have extra pork, or extra noodles. I'm not a fan of the pork, exactly, but the broth is truly one of a kind.

        3 Replies
        1. re: tonkatsuuu
          dec111 Apr 14, 2008 08:41 AM

          Momofuku's noodles are mushy. Most people who go there know no better.
          Setagaya's noodles are done correctly but the broth is lukewarm. Both are not great but Setagaya is better.

          There are better noodle places in Chinatown for 1/4 the price, but not the PR. I can't eat PR. If you want to feel ripped off go to Momofuku. Eleven bucks for broth and mushy noodles!

          1. re: dec111
            Scotty100 Apr 14, 2008 01:39 PM

            I went recently and to me setagaya's broth tasted like a tub of salt dumped into some luke warm miso-based water...I could not finish it. Worse than that, the open flame grilled pork slices were terrible...all you can taste is this butane gas flavor...really disgusting and I love pork in all shapes and flavors. For me this place was a big let down.

            1. re: Scotty100
              dec111 Apr 17, 2008 01:17 PM

              If you are looking for good broth, try the Taiwanese/Japanese restaurant on same block as the old 20 mott street. It is up about 5 steps. The fatty pork belly with broth and noodles is excellent and well under 10 dollars-- much more of a bargain than the other noodle places on this post. Noodles are not as al dente as Rai Rai Ken but the broth is excellent.

        2. m
          mr. knish Sep 20, 2007 10:52 AM

          My take on Setagaya vs. the other noodle joints:

          Setagaya seems to be a very authentic Ramen place. I liked the food, and I loved the prices. It is a cash only joint, but that shouldn’t be an issue as you can have a Sapporo, a bowl of Ramen with Pork and a side of pickles for about 20 bucks. The soup is a good combination of salty and meaty, with just enough flavor to give the noodles some extra life. The noodles snap, like a real Ramen noodle should, and I commend them for this. The Oyaku-don is a totally delicious and filling side, and the pickles were ample for 2 bucks. While in this neighborhood, I might choose Momofuku for the fantastic pork buns and innovative sides, or Soba-ya for the ultra-authentic Soba and velvety rich soup; I think Setagaya is a great quick and cheap noodle place that deserves consideration!

          2 Replies
          1. re: mr. knish
            Jel212 Sep 20, 2007 11:40 AM

            Thanks! I have yet to try Setagaya - I'm so, so addicted to Momofuko.

            1. re: Jel212
              jwobkk Sep 24, 2007 11:09 AM

              I had a taste of the ramen at Momofuku on Friday night and it was a big disappointment. The broth had no flavor and the noodles were overdone. The small plates are as good as ever at Momofuku and the ramen remains bad. I love the ramen at Setagaya and based upon the line I saw there on Friday night it remains a popular spot.

          2. a
            armscontrol Jul 31, 2007 05:50 PM

            Momofuku isn't a place to go to for 'authentic' ramen. It's more of a joint that offers 'fusion' flare--whatever that means.

            Don't ever order the jjigae at Momofuku... if you really want Korean style jjigae, why not just go to Korea Town or Flushing?

            For ramen, just go to any Japanese joint. Go on St. Marks has decent tasting ramen, as does Menkuitei and Minca. Setagaya is also very good as they use very good noodles that aren't boiled too long (al dente) and are served in a very nice broth with open flame grilled pork slices (cha-shuu). I've been to all the restaurants known for ramen, including Santoka at Mitsuwa in Edgewater, NJ and Hakata in Times Square.

            I would suggest any of the ones mentioned above, but my favorite is Menkuitei and Setagaya.

            1 Reply
            1. re: armscontrol
              UES Mayor Aug 1, 2007 06:17 AM

              Of all the answers to this thread yours is the best and most accurate response. Everyone should try both above restaurants and judge for yourselves-who knows -you might like a variation but I totally agree with your answer!!

            2. j
              jwobkk Jul 18, 2007 11:00 AM

              I don't think it is a valid comparison to compare the two against each other. Setagaya is a traditional ramen bar that you would find in Japan that makes excellent ramen with fresh ingredients. Momofuku does not make authentic Japanese ramen. I love Momofuku for its small plates, creativity, seasonal ingredients and great flavors. I would not go there to satisfy a ramen craving. Setagaya is a pure play ramen bar with a strong Japanese clientele. In fact, I was the only Gaijin in the restaurant today on the lunch hour. To me that is a great sign. Looking forward to the arrival of Ippudo now. The dismal ramen scene in New York is now looking a lot better. Just wish that Santoka could open a branch in Manhattan - then we would be set.

              7 Replies
              1. re: jwobkk
                Jel212 Jul 18, 2007 11:06 AM

                What to get at Setagaya?

                1. re: Jel212
                  jwobkk Jul 18, 2007 12:15 PM

                  Not many choices. They are known for the Shio Ramen so I would go with that.

                  1. re: jwobkk
                    Jel212 Jul 18, 2007 01:03 PM

                    What is Shio Ramen?

                    1. re: Jel212
                      jwobkk Jul 18, 2007 01:23 PM

                      Salt based broth

                2. re: jwobkk
                  Polecat Jul 18, 2007 04:11 PM

                  "...I was the only Gaijin in the restaurant today on the lunch hour. To me that is a great sign."

                  While I agree with you 100 percent on the high quality of Setagaya's ramen (the tsukemen as well), I can't agree with this argument in principal. I've been in a lot of situations where I was the only Gaijin, and I've found it to be a guarantee of nothing. I also don't necessarily equate authenticity with quality either; they are not, as a rule, mutually inclusive. In the case of Setagaya, fortunately, it's all happening.

                  Setagaya vs. Momofuku? I can't see it, not based on the ramen alone anyhow. Haven't been to Momofuku since it first opened. While I liked certain aspects of the ramen, it never made it for me as a total experience, the soggy noodles being the weakest link. My wife and I couldn't help but notice that the employees often waited several minutes after the noodles were immersed in the soup before serving the customers. This is a cardinal sin for any shop trying to lay claim to authentic ramen. If Setagaya maintains its' high standards of efficiency and quality, you won't catch them doing this.

                  In my mind, comparing Momofuku to Setagaya is like pitting a double A minor leager vs. a major league all star. It's almost not even fair.

                  1. re: Polecat
                    Silverjay Jul 18, 2007 08:54 PM

                    I concur with you 100% on the issue of natives present, authenticity, and quality- i.e. no direct relationship between the three. The St. Marks and the EV is rife with such examples.

                    1. re: Silverjay
                      jwobkk Jul 19, 2007 05:47 AM

                      The reason I say that is my expat Japanese friends always know the best Japanese places to eat in New York and more often than not these establishments serve a clientele that is almost exclusively Japanese. They were onto Yakitori Totto long before it was known to the masses.

                3. m
                  mrnyc Jul 3, 2007 04:50 PM

                  i went over to try SETAGAYA this afternoon (tues), but they had a hand-written sign out saying they were closed -- it looked like they ran out of gas after lunchtime and were closed until dinner. it had been packed when i walked by tho.

                  so instead i went to MOMFUKU NOODLE. i had the tsukemen ramen ($11). it has scallions, pickles, kombu, scallion, shredded berkshire pork, poached egg, & the cold noodles.

                  the ingredients are all top notch and it was all mighty tasty.

                  my only minor complaint was the dipping sauce was just ok. the noodles also are at best just ok. as stated by others, they are serviceable, but not the best around.

                  service is fine. overall, i was pleased and i can't wait to go back and try their other ramen dishes. the korean styled noodle dishes look worth a try as well.

                  1. m
                    mrnyc Jul 3, 2007 08:36 AM

                    help! two questions before i head over there:

                    is the shio ramen better than santoka's?

                    and do they have a special cold/summer ramen (other than tseukemen style)?

                    thx ya'll!

                    ps- what to try first? i am leaning toward trying the tsuekemen style first, unless someone can compare the shio to santoka and convince me to go for that one first (of course i'll get around to both - ha!).

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: mrnyc
                      ainslie Jul 3, 2007 08:39 AM

                      ever been to rai rai ken? i actually think its really yummy, though i cant comment on its "authenticity"

                      1. re: ainslie
                        umai Sep 9, 2008 06:41 AM

                        I was very disappointed in my experience at rai rai ken last night. I took a friend there from japan and was completely embarrased at how bad it was. The noodles were overcooked, the broth not very hot, and besides that the broth was terrible. It was so salty neither of us could drink it (both the shio and the miso). We each left half of our ramen, and i don't think i've ever done that before. It was not just mediocre. It was bad.

                        1. re: umai
                          Silverjay Sep 9, 2008 12:11 PM

                          I had the exact same experience with a friend from Japan several years ago at Rairaiken.

                      2. re: mrnyc
                        ainslie Jul 3, 2007 08:42 AM

                        also, does Setagaya offer anything for vegetarians?

                      3. t
                        traceybell Jul 2, 2007 10:01 AM

                        They are really different. I can't remember savoring the broth at Momofuku's much--sometimes it just seems overly salty. But I really crave their pork sometimes. At Setagaya, the broth is very nice and fragrant and a lot lighter since it's probably dashi-based, and the noodles are a lot better--they have some bite to them. I also liked their semi-soft egg a lot. The pork was pretty good too, but I think it's the broth that makes it stand out.


                        1. Woodside Al Jun 29, 2007 07:16 AM

                          You've got to be kidding. Setagaya is real ramen, Momofuku is definitely not.

                          1. f
                            FattyDumplin Jun 29, 2007 06:04 AM

                            i tried teh tsukemen (cold ramen). dipping broth is very flavorful. you can really taste teh scallop he uses. the bbq pork was bleh. i love the noodles they used. thick linguine like and very al dente. great for slurping.

                            the regular ramen looks good as well but have not tried it yet.

                            1. k
                              kayonyc Jun 19, 2007 02:47 PM


                              In case you have not read it yet, here's someone's recent take on Setagaya (with a comparison to momofuku). My bet is definitely on Setagaya, although I haven't tried it yet. Momofuku's version of ramen is a flat and uninspired imitation of ramen, if anything.

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: kayonyc
                                rarrgarr Jun 28, 2007 10:57 PM

                                I think momofuku is better though, taken as a whole. I had the baby octopus salad and the sugar snap peas the other day and I almost died of deliciousness.

                                1. re: kayonyc
                                  kayonyc Jun 29, 2007 07:34 AM

                                  An addendum: I tried the setagaya ramen a week ago, both tsukemen and shio ramen, as well as the menma appetizer. Setagaya is definitely heralds an improvement in the ramen scene. My preference there is for the Tsukemen, a deliciously garlicky porky broth with hints of seafood. The accompanying noodles were perfectly chewy, and thick. Very Satisfying. They were out of most sides by 7 pm which was a bit dissappointing. I'm sure they'll iron out those kinks soon.

                                  It seems I am one of the few Anti-Momofuku'ers on this board. That said, definitely beats Momofuku on the noodle genre.

                                  1. re: kayonyc
                                    raji212 Jun 29, 2007 07:39 AM

                                    Nope I'm right there with you. IF I go to Monofuku, it's not for their fakemen, defo.

                                    Kayo, I'm more of a tonkotsu, hataka ramen, kyuushu style ramen type of guy. Also love a good chyasuu ramen. Will I be out of luck there?

                                    Is there anywhere in NYC that can make a better ramen than Santouka Ramen @ the Mitsuwa? I still have yet to see it.

                                    1. re: raji212
                                      kayonyc Jun 29, 2007 01:13 PM


                                      It's very different from a Hakata - Tonkotsu style ramen since it doesn't depend on the marrow. But the Tsukemen's complex broth is sufficiently porky and shouldn't disappoint. I think the Shio is modeled after a Tokyo - Honshu style, (a lighter, dashi incorporated style) so it might now wow you as much.

                                      I've heard chatter on these boards that a Japanese chain - Ippudo (sp?) will be opening an outpost soon? Don't know much, about it but I am looking forward to that!

                                      1. re: kayonyc
                                        raji212 Jul 2, 2007 03:57 PM

                                        Where did you see the chatter? I'll believe it when I see it...

                                        I love a good Shio-ramen... It's also better in the summer because you don't want to be weighed down by such a pork broth....

                                        NY needs real ramen, so bring 'em on, and keep them open all night, please!!!

                                        1. re: raji212
                                          Silverjay Jul 2, 2007 08:20 PM

                                          We had a pretty good Ramen Setagaya smackdown here- http://www.chowhound.com/topics/412783 . Shoyu is pretty much considered "Tokyo style" ramen. Shio ramen is a relatively new concept- despite it's simplicity, but yeah, most shio ramen are probably out of Tokyo. The Setagaya broth is pretty unique actually because of it's seafood ingredients.

                                          Regarding Ippudo, Yukari Pratt spotted something in the Japan Times about it, but word has been around for a while- http://www.chowhound.com/topics/413166 . It's a good chain. (The Ebisu branch is actually a few blocks from the station- per the Japan Board discussion). There's other tonkotsu chains I prefer, but Ippudo is solid porky goodness. Ippudo vs. Momofuku will probably be a more appropo smackdown.

                                  2. re: kayonyc
                                    Abe Froman Jul 3, 2007 09:18 AM

                                    since Chang has stated 1001 times since opening that he intention was never to serve "traditional" ramen, I think the term we should use to describe it is "variation" rather than "imitation"

                                    1. re: Abe Froman
                                      kayonyc Jul 3, 2007 10:34 AM

                                      Fine - I can accept variation, but be that as it may, an inferior variation, lacking in real flavor - apart from that of too copious amounts of salt. I also recall that the noodles were unfortunately overcooked and limp as well, which is a shame, for properly cooked noodles are pretty integral to a noodle dish, be it Korean, Chinese, Italian, or Japanese.

                                      1. re: Abe Froman
                                        rameniac Jul 4, 2007 05:10 PM

                                        you know, i can't quite tell if that momofuku chef knows his noodles or not, just by reading around the net. the place sounded interesting, but some new york hounds i met recenty swore that it's all hype. plus, i'd take issue with chang saying he doesn't serve "traditional" ramen; there's really no such thing, in the sense that there's traditional preparations for kaiseki and whatnot. there are accepted regional styles, but ramen is a constantly evolving art and each shop does it a little bit differently.

                                        to that end, if momofuku is worth its salt (and i haven't been to new york since 2003) then you could probably say it's "real" ramen. but if it's anything like uber swanky wagamama ramen in the united kingdom, i woud just cringe and cry and keep on looking. i'm bracing myself for both possibilities i guess, come my next trip to the apple, but i think i'll wait until ippudo is open to get the most out of my airfare dollars.

                                    2. Jel212 Jun 19, 2007 02:08 PM

                                      (I mean, after Setagaya opens tomorrow... : )

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Jel212
                                        raji212 Jun 29, 2007 07:12 AM

                                        Apples and oranges.

                                        Momofuku is not an authentic Japanese ramen shop, which is why I hate it it's misleading name.

                                        That said, it is still an amazing restaurant!

                                      Show Hidden Posts