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Sapporo W 49th Special Ramen Soup?

bnemes3343 Jan 25, 2008 08:14 AM

Ok, here is the truth. If I was told to order my 'last meal' it would be the Special Ramen Soup (#5) at Sapporo on W 49th in NYC. I'm sorry, but there is nothing (nothing) I would rather eat than this. The most flavorful broth ever, wonderful HOT noodles, crunchy sprouts, pork, spinach, etc. etc. I only get to midtown about once a week, but I will literally do an hour on the treadmill in advance to justify a bowl of this soup. And being a singleton, I sit at the counter and watch what is probably a better show than most of what's on Bway today (is there anything more entertaining than watching the guy on the end screaming out the orders and the cooks going nose to nose with 3' high flames? And about $10 with a $2 tip!

Does anyone else feel this way about this place/the soup? Am I just a Ramen novice and missing out on much better fare elsewhere?

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  1. g
    G3B RE: bnemes3343 Jan 25, 2008 08:19 AM

    I just had the special ramen soup last week and I thought it was only OK, although I am not a ramen expert, so don't know where else would be better. we just went there bec. it was midway bet. us and knew that it would be a quick lunch.

    1. r
      randumbposter RE: bnemes3343 Jan 25, 2008 09:07 AM

      I like the sapporo special cause it's big, inexpensive and filling.

      The soup is ok. They are fairly inconsistent too. Sometimes i get soggy noodles. Sometimes the pork is really hard and dry etc...

      I'm not a ramen expert either but that's the feeling I get from eating there.

      I like menchanko tei a bunch of blocks up from sapporo better, 55th street between 6th and 5th. I enjoy the hakata ramen and the tsukemen with pork n miso.

      5 Replies
      1. re: randumbposter
        bnemes3343 RE: randumbposter Jan 25, 2008 10:40 AM

        Thanks for the tip. I always go pretty early (before noon) and, at that time at least, it is very consistent (maybe everything is fresher). I might try menchanko next time - only a five minute walk from sapporo.

        1. re: bnemes3343
          Lau RE: bnemes3343 Jan 25, 2008 03:10 PM

          the best thing at sapporo is pork chahan (fried rice) and gyoza...both are awesome

        2. re: randumbposter
          Miss Needle RE: randumbposter Jan 25, 2008 11:57 AM

          I also prefer menchanko to sapporo.

          1. re: Miss Needle
            bnemes3343 RE: Miss Needle Jan 25, 2008 01:27 PM

            Rand and MissN, visited the Menchanko web site and their ramen soup looks awesome (and .20 less!). Am going on Tuesday. If this is even better than Saporo I will be forever in your debt...

            1. re: bnemes3343
              Miss Needle RE: bnemes3343 Jan 28, 2008 07:52 AM

              If you can, try the hakata ramen. It's ramen in pork bone soup that's been simmered until it's milky white. I don't think Sapporo offers it either. It's really delicious!

        3. g
          gloriousfood RE: bnemes3343 Jan 25, 2008 02:14 PM

          I just had the special today, and I do agree with you that it rocks. I've been eating at this place for nearly 20 years, and I'm amazed at how it manages to keep its prices down w/o raising its menu prices too high. It deserves props for its longevity and loyal customers. I crave the special just about every month. And you're right about the show at the counter...it's fun and fascinating. I saw so many different dishes today that I wish I knew what they all were. Menchanko tei is good too--it's got a calmer atmosphere.

          3 Replies
          1. re: gloriousfood
            Scotty100 RE: gloriousfood Jan 28, 2008 08:04 AM

            Lots of Ramen discussion on this board...imo Sapporo is average - Ramen Setagaya, Rai Rai Ken and Momofuku all superior in my book...

            1. re: Scotty100
              gloriousfood RE: Scotty100 Jan 28, 2008 08:14 AM

              I've not been to Setagaya yet, but I do respectfully disagree on RRK and Momofuku.

              What would you recommend at Setagaya?

              1. re: gloriousfood
                eatfood RE: gloriousfood Jan 28, 2008 08:57 AM

                You really can't go wrong at Setagaya. The menu is extremely limited.

                That said, I personally recommend the Tsukemen (dipping one) and a side of the egg. It's a little more flavourful to me.

          2. m
            MooShu RE: bnemes3343 Jan 28, 2008 10:35 AM

            In my opinion, Sapporo and RRK are average. Menchanko Tei is good. Minca Noodle Factory is good too - haven't been there in a long while, tho. Setagaya rocks. And ramen at Momofuku is kinda crappy... like overcooked and soggy. I noticed most of customers there were ordering non-noodle items from the menu.

            5 Replies
            1. re: MooShu
              Peter Cuce RE: MooShu Jan 28, 2008 12:06 PM

              My last couple of Setagaya visits have been pretty disappointing. The broth wasn't as good as the first visits, and the pork was dry both times.

              1. re: Peter Cuce
                JSHAFT78 RE: Peter Cuce Jan 28, 2008 12:11 PM

                I work for a Japanese company, and more than one person has told me they didn't think much of Setagaya. Minca downtown has gotten some thumbs up though

                1. re: JSHAFT78
                  Silverjay RE: JSHAFT78 Jan 28, 2008 07:54 PM

                  I haven't been to Setagaya since the first month it opened. It's a very ambitious type of ramen to undertake and it really requires a level a diligence and skill that has to be constantly applied to make it successful- not to mention that they need to maintain access to the same type and level of ingredients. Perhaps the crowds and their own success have hindered them. I don't know. It's disappointing if they can't maintain their A-game.

                  Minca is horrible. Ippudo is coming soon. Hopefully Sapporo and Setagaya can step up, lest we suffer from tonkotsu hegemony.

                  1. re: Silverjay
                    eatfood RE: Silverjay Jan 29, 2008 03:24 PM

                    Any word on Ippudo, Silverjay?

                    1. re: eatfood
                      Silverjay RE: eatfood Jan 29, 2008 03:34 PM

                      Stopped by the other day. They've got help wanted signs up in Japanese, but I couldn't see inside the shop. Place will seat 80-85 persons according to an article I read in a Japanese paper. Shop hours will be 11am-2am. They're saying January.....um, probably not. Soon hopefully though.

            2. SunnysideUp RE: bnemes3343 Jan 28, 2008 10:29 PM

              Rai Rai Ken - East 10th St between 2nd and 1st.

              1 Reply
              1. re: SunnysideUp
                Peter Cuce RE: SunnysideUp Jan 29, 2008 03:47 AM

                I don't like Rai Rai Ken much at all.

              2. b
                bnemes3343 RE: bnemes3343 Jan 29, 2008 08:23 AM

                Well, based on the numerous recs for the ramen at Menchanko-Tei, I headed there for a try today. While the place itself is a bit more upscale than Sapporo and the complimentary green tea is a nice touch, their ramen soup is not even on the same planet as that at Sapporo.

                The broth in the #5 ramen at Sapporo is so rich and flavorful that you could toss an old sneaker in it and it would still be a great lunch. The broth at Menchanko (I got the Shoyu ramen and maybe that was my first mistake), was very dissapointing. It tasted more like a can of grocery store beef stock. I went early thinking that I'd be more likely to get things freshly cooked, but the noodles were a limp, glutenous mass in the bottom of the bowl. Pretty much impossible to separate, so I just took bites out of the glob. The rest of the ingredients in the soup were OK, although not nearly as numerous or interesting as at Sapporo.

                If this had been my first bowl of ramen, it would definitely be my last. I would dearly love to sit down with a bowl of the ramen from both places with someone who genuinely prefers Menchanko and do some taste testing. I guess there is just a flavor element in the broth at Sapporo that I like much more than others. If anyone who has tried it can please tell me what it is so that I can come close to it at home, please speak up.

                So, never again. Not only was the soup a big disappointment, but I didn't get the free show at Sapporo! (and to add insult to injury, I stopped for a coffee at the Majestic Deli at 50th and 7th on the way back and was amazed to hear it is now $1.75. It's been a while since I've been there, but I wondered if I had just awoken from a multi-year sleep... I've come to grips with most of the carts charging $1.25, but this was ridiculous).

                7 Replies
                1. re: bnemes3343
                  Peter Cuce RE: bnemes3343 Jan 29, 2008 10:38 AM

                  I don't like either place. Menchanko's definitely lower on the list, but the times I tried Sapporo the broth didn't have much flavor. There's not really any ramen in NYC that I'd go out of my way for -- Setagaya's the best we have I guess, although it seems to be getting worse. Minca's decent every so often -- I liked it when it first opened but haven't had a good experience there in a long time.

                  1. re: Peter Cuce
                    bnemes3343 RE: Peter Cuce Jan 29, 2008 10:45 AM

                    The only soup I like that much at Sapporo is the #5 ramen. I don't think the others have as much flavor. If the #5 is the broth you don't think has much flavor, then I am really surprised...

                  2. re: bnemes3343
                    misschopsticks RE: bnemes3343 Jan 29, 2008 11:40 AM

                    Best ramen at Menchanko is actually their Hakata (milky pork broth). Although, their broth has become watered down lately. I wouldn't recommend any of their other ramens.

                    If you wanted Shoyu ramen you should have gone to Setagaya.

                    1. re: misschopsticks
                      Miss Needle RE: misschopsticks Jan 29, 2008 11:48 AM

                      Totally agree with misschopsticks about the hakata. Please give it another try and order the hakata. I do agree with you that if you compare shoyu to the sapporo special, sapporo will win. But Menchanko's hakata is a totally different experience.

                      1. re: Miss Needle
                        bnemes3343 RE: Miss Needle Jan 29, 2008 03:41 PM

                        Ok, one more try with the Hakata (maybe). but before I spend another hour on the treadmill to offset a big bowl of ramen, are you saying the hakata is as flavorful as the #5 at sapporo? What about the noodles - they were a glutinous mass at Menchanko; really gross and an experience I have never had at Sapporo?

                      2. re: misschopsticks
                        Silverjay RE: misschopsticks Jan 29, 2008 02:02 PM

                        Setagaya's focus is shio ramen. They do not offer shoyu.

                        1. re: Silverjay
                          misschopsticks RE: Silverjay Jan 29, 2008 06:23 PM

                          My bad! Silverjay's right. Setagaya is for shio.

                          What say you... Minca for shoyu? Heard Rai Rai Ken's shoyu is supposed to be good.

                    2. bosun RE: bnemes3343 Jan 29, 2008 12:19 PM

                      It one of my favorite spots in the city. I love their Gyoza and Yakisoba, as well!!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: bosun
                        Peter Cuce RE: bosun Jan 30, 2008 02:38 AM

                        Do they make their own gyoza? I know that Setagaya gets theirs from an outside purveyor.

                        1. re: Peter Cuce
                          Scotty100 RE: Peter Cuce Jan 31, 2008 04:32 AM

                          Rai Rai Ken is underrated...was excellent last 2 times I tried it over the last couple of months.

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