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Best Ramen in NYC?

I'm on a quest for the best ramen shop in new york. there are a lot around these days, but so far none of the one's i've been to can hold a candle to the profoundly wonderful ramen i've had in Japan.

Setagaya was written up as "authentic", but it seemed to me like an overpriced attempt at presenting what Americans imagine ramen is like in Japan - a little fishy and accompanied by edamame. the best ramen i had in japan (sort of thought of there as chinese food) was meaty and accompanied by pork dumplings.
I think the best i've had so far was Ajisen on Mott st. in Chinatown, but the pork slices were a little too thick and dry.
I hear a lot about Momofukuya, but i'm always wary of hype. Any opinions on that?

Any recomendations? Thanks!

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  1. I can't vouch for authenticity, but I get the hand-pulled ramen in soup with roast pork at Mee Noodle on 9th (at 53rd). The pork is good, moist, fatty, and flavorful. The noodles are bouncy and light. The broth is not too salty.

    It's maybe $6 for a huge bowl of it, and if you get takeout the broth comes in its own container, so nothing sogs out. I get it while I do laundry across the street. Cheap and good.

    1 Reply
    1. re: corgette

      I think the OP is looking for a japanese version.

    2. Momofuku is not Japanese-style ramen, it's more of a fusion greenmarket take on it. If you go in expecting even a mediocre but authentic Japanese version, you'll be sorely disappointed, but if you just want a nice semi-Asian-style noodle soup with fresh ingredients, that's Momofuku.

      1. For ramen head my MOST favorite ramen spot:
        Sapporo, 152 W.49th btw. 6& 7th.

        There is a choice of many broths and styles including, miso, shoyu, shio, and vegetable! A typical bowl will come with a slice of roast pork, hard boiled egg, fishcake, bean sprouts, etc. Soup is HOT, rich, and delicious. The noodles are never overcooked, and the ratio of soup to noodles is just right. You will roll out of that place after a bowl of their ramen. Other dishes, such as yakisoba and sukiyaki are just as tasty and satisfying.
        Lunch time is very busy and the service is lightning fast, but towards the later hours you will find it more relxed.

        4 Replies
        1. re: bosun

          I second Sapporo's, it's very good. I don't know if you consider Ramen Santoka any good, I thought it was the delicious...amazing miso broth, there is a branch in the Mitsuwa Market in NJ.

          1. re: moymoy

            I agree with Moymoy. I like Ramen Santoka too!

            1. re: bearmi

              LOL, I wish they would open a Ramen Santoka in NYC!!! I can't believe they haven't. I keep thinking about that miso broth and the berkshire pork.

              Once I had Santoka every other ramen seemed lackluster.

            2. re: moymoy

              we were just there at the mitsuwa market and i had the best buckwheat ramen (or is that buckwheat soba??) at the counter closest to the window. i had it with a great broth and some tempura on top. can someone tell me what kind of broth that is??? i have buckwheat noodles that i brought home but wasn't sure what to buy to make that broth. and i'm looking for whatever it is without msg...and mitsuwa carries a few brands that are sans msg. and if i buy it in a bottle, do you have to water it down a bit? anyway, the type of broth identified would be a great help from all you ramen experts.

          2. No clue what authentic ramen tastes like.

            If you want tender pork, try minca(haven't been back lately. i've noticed the chef used to keep the pork covered probably to prevent drying out or something). Most other places are hit or miss with the pork.

            Menchenko on 55th has tender pork if you order the tsukemen.

            If you like ajisen ramen , you would probably like yakitori taisho ramen. The soup tastes similiar and is topped off with thick slices of dried pork.

            The other usual suspects to try are men kui tei, sapporo, rai rai ken. If you do a search, there are multiple threads on this subject. The conclusion usually ends with, go to mitsuwa market in new jersey and get ramen there.

            Anyway, having not experienced authentic ramen, I find most to be tasty and edible. The only ramen that gets a fail from me, is momofuku. Bland soup , soggy noodles.

            2 Replies
            1. re: randumbposter

              Just to be clear here - the name of the place mentioned above is Menchanko-tei, and it's on 45th, not 55th, between Lexington and 3rd, within walking distance of Grand Central.

              The great thing about Menchanko-tei is that they serve Hiyashi Chuka, a cold summer ramen dish that was one of my favorite dishes when I lived in Japan. It's hard to find here.

              1. re: bpickar

                There are 2 Menchanko-teis. On 45th and 55th.

            2. Hmm. Have you tried Chikubu (only on Fridays). I forget the exact hours. This is the style of pork ramen you want, I think.

              3 Replies
              1. re: cimui

                Chikubu has been closed for a while now, but yeah, that ramen was good.

                For "authentic" ramen, it seems Setagaya, Minca and Rai Rai Ken are the big names. I've only had RRK out of those three, but it was good.

                1. re: janethepain

                  Oh no, that's really sad. I went just a few months ago. It certainly couldn't've gone out of business, could it?

                  1. re: cimui

                    Nope, it definitely wasn't hurting for business. The owners wanted to retire and return to Japan, I believe.

              2. Not sure what's "authentic", but as a huge ramen fan (must have it every week), my personal favorite for ramen is at Men Kui Tei, I also think their gyozas are the best, too!

                6 Replies
                1. re: via jon

                  I totally second Men Kui tei-i go to the one at 60 w 56 all the time-hole in the wall-everything very good and even the gyozas are made from scratch!!!

                  1. re: UES Mayor

                    are DOSANKO's still around? they had THE best. God Im old.

                    1. re: nyebaby37

                      OH MY GOD! That was my favorite place when I was little. It was at that restaurant where I had my first lesson with chopsticks, as well as my introduction to various Japanese lunch/snack style dishes. They had two locations didn't they?
                      Damn, I wish I could go there one more time.

                      1. re: bosun

                        At their height in the early-mid 80s, there were at least 3-4 Dosanko's in Manhattan. As far as I've ever been able to tell, there's only one left, out in Flushing, I think off Northern Blvd. They died off as people started getting used to "ethnic" food. It was pretty, well, "uniform" but I liked it even though it was as salty as all hell - rumored, presumably correctly, to be an intentional corporate mindset since they were owned, ultimately, by Sapporo, or its parent anyway. LOL

                        IIRC, one of the last was over on E 59th St between 3rd and 2nd Aves, with maybe the second to last to go being the one on Madison near 49th St. There had been one on Broadway in the very general vicinity of Columbus Circle; I'm pretty sure there was one more downtown too but I could be wrong.

                        Sapporo is/was always a little better IMNSHO (less salty anyway), if grungier, though I miss those spinach noodle shrimp gyoza....

                        1. re: MikeG

                          I think I might have to take a trip to Queens! Thanks for the info. My Dad and I used to hit up the one on Madison I think. I loved their fried chicken, and yakisoba.

                          1. re: bosun

                            Before you go running to Queens ,Dasanko changed to West Udon. I heard it is a japanese chain but has very similiar menu.I have not been yet .

                2. Funny nobody has mentioned Rai Rai Ken on 10th Street, just a block from Momofuku. It's so good!

                  1. "Setagaya was written up as "authentic", but it seemed to me like an overpriced attempt at presenting what Americans imagine ramen is like in Japan - a little fishy and accompanied by edamame."

                    This is absolutely silly. Setagaya is a branch of a very popular Tokyo ramen chain. Ramen comes in several styles, and you may not like the style of their broth (light salt broth based on pork stock flavored with dried seafood) but it is very definitely an authentic modern Tokyo-style shio-ramen. It's certainly not an americanized experience, nor run by non-Japanese, whatever you may think of the food. The edamame order is up to you. I prefer the half-cooked egg.

                    Ajisen, which started in Kumamoto, specializes in Kyushu-style tonkotsu (pork bone) ramen. Good, but of a different style than Setagaya, and much closer to the Chinese original, which is I guess why so many of their shops are Chinese operated and they're popular in Hong Kong, Singapore, and China itself (as well as Chinatown here in NYC, of course). The one here is really a sort of Japanese-Chinese restaurant, like one would find in Shanghai. Minca in the EV serves a similar style of ramen.

                    Momofuku's ramen is terrible.

                    1. " ... but it seemed to me like an overpriced attempt at presenting what Americans imagine ..."
                      ... 'nuf said ... and believe me, my fellow "Americans" buy/pay, buy/pay, and buy/pay enough ... to "imagine".
                      I have an affinity for contrarian views, what's your take on Santoka's ramen in Edgewater.

                      1. I concur with Woodside Al. Your characterization of Setagaya is completely off. Shio ramen and stronger fish-based broths are enjoying a boom in the ramen scene in Japan these days. Setagaya's ramen is in fact very authentic, and as I mentioned an earlier review of the shop, quite a risky undertaking in the U.S. The owner of the shop is seen as fairly gutsy for bringing that type of soup to New York because the Japanese have a perception that Americans would not like a fishy-seafood based broth. This is just part of how they think we eat. I've heard this many times in Japan, but actually experienced it first hand in NYC last year when I attended a sort of invitation only ramen tasting. It was held by a Japanese TV station and a Tokyo-based (pretty sure it wasn't Setagaya) ramen shop. The broth was shoyu-based and quite fishy. After being fed, I was interviewed by the TV reporter who was obviously baiting me into saying it was too fishy. As I said I enjoyed it, she feigned dramatic surprise.

                        Anyhow, if you can understand Japanese, the programs played on the screen and the articles posted when you first walk in the shop pretty much detail a similar shio ramen, so there's really no doubt that it is authentic and nearly identical to what is served in Tokyo. Their website says so as well. It has nothing to do with what they think Americans imagine. Regarding price, it's pretty much the exact same as what this particular shop charges in Tokyo and that's on par with what is standard for this type of quality.It's pretty much a case of this guy trying to prove that his recipe is universally enjoyed, so he's offered the same dish and set the same price.....Agreed on the edamame though. That's not authentic at all for a ramen shop.

                        Regarding Setagaya as a popular chain in Japan (which was stated in the NYT write-up), that's not quite the case. It's a modest chain of 6 shops, with each one offering a different style of ramen. I've never been to Setagaya itself, but to the tonkotsu branch that wasn't far (Note: I thought it was average). The popularity of this shop comes from the celebrity of the owner/chef.

                        By the way, the other shop is called Momofuku, not Momofukuya.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Silverjay

                          I'll confess that i can't speak to the Tokyo ramen scene because most of my experience in Japan is with the Kansai area. i make no claim there. but (and this could have been a unique experience) my noodles at setagaya clumped together. that should never happen. i could have just gotten a bad bowl, though.

                          if its to your taste that's great. but i'd caution anyone against assuming that its "authentic" just because its a chain in Japan. burger king just opened up in Japan and there are long lines to get into the few Tokyo locations because its talked about as "authentic" american burgers. better to decide for yourself.

                          by the way, thanks to everyone for all the info and opinions! i really appreciate it.

                          1. re: yabai umai

                            As I'm pretty much reporting based on empirical evidence that it's authentic, there's no reason beating the dead horse that it is not. There's nothing to decide for yourself except whether you like it or not. The Burger King analogy (they've been trying for years to get into Japan) isn't really fitting. More apropos would be equating, say, a scenario where a small local pizza chain (like 5 or 6 shops) from New York or Chicago that sets up shop in Osaka and offers the exact same pizza they offer back home without trying to necessarily appeal to Osakan tastes.

                            But sorry to hear you had a bad bowl. Certainly Ramen Setagaya's ability to maintain high standards and consistency will call into question the abilities of Ippudo and Ichiran, two quite larger and national Japanese chains from Fukuoka that are due to open up shop in NYC over the next couple of months.

                            1. re: Silverjay

                              I don't know from authentic ramen, so I'll defer to Silverjay et al., but my taste buds tell me that Setagaya is really good ramen, quite a bit better than my previous standby of Menkui Tei, though I wish they served more varieties, an advantage Menkui Tei has (and why I, therefore, went back to Menkui Tei recently, to have Mabo Men). I'll look forward to Ippudo and Ichiran opening in New York.

                        2. There's a ramen place about to open on 3rd Ave., I think in the high 80s....anybody know anything about this?

                          1. I wasn't impressed with Setagaya at all. I had the shio, which I found overly salty (not too fishy, too salty). The pork was dry - a strange thing in a soup! I did like the half-cooked egg, though. The yolk added some nice color and also flavored the noodles around it.

                            All in all, though, Setagaya didn't hold a candle to Minca, or even to Rai Rai Ken. I don't understand why it's been so hyped in the last few weeks.