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Oct 21, 2009 12:01 PM

Any decent japanese noodly places in the vicinity of Flatiron/Union square?

So I'm sitting at my desk, eating a very depressing bowl of Annie Chun's noodle soup from Trader Joe's (I'm too busy to get a real meal right now.) I mainly think it sucks, but what it HAS done besides depress me a bit is put me in the mood for some really good miso soup with thick noodles. I know there's been a bit of a noodle rennaisance in NYC lately but I haven't really kept up with it. Is there anywhere good to get a nice miso soup in the area of Flatiron or Union Square? If not there, where in Manhattan are they serving the good stuff these days? I know about the places on 47th near Times Square.


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  1. If you can bare the mind-numbing 3 hour wait at Ippudo...they are definitely one of the best ramen places around. There's Sategaya but i've never been

    2 Replies
    1. re: kelea

      Over the course of the last year or two I've been to all of the Setagayas. I haven't made a survey of which one is the best, but they're all good. Ippudo is probably The One, but you'll have to wait. The wait at Setagaya won't be too long.

      1. re: kelea

        I aggree Ippudo is the best choice by far ramen and great pork buns!!!

      2. Rei Rei Ken is my go to ramen joint in the east village. Not mind blowing but consistently soild. 11th btwn 1st and 2nd. I like it better than Momofuku noodle bar.

        1 Reply
        1. re: MVNYC

          Rai Rai Ken is on 10th between 1st and 2nd.

        2. Terakawa Ramen on Lex, just south of 23rd is the closest authentic Japanese ramen place to Flatiron. Here is link from previous discussion- . I think you mean miso ramen, not miso soup.

          1. As kelea indicates, Ippudo is the place to go near Union Square. The wait can make it all not worth it, but it's usually not too bad if you hit it early enough (30 minutes at 6:15 the last time I was there).

            In upper Midtown, Men Kui Tei on 55th and Menchanko Tei on 56th are my standbys.

            That said, if you want the _really_ good stuff, and are willing to pay for it, I've heard nothing but good things about Matsugen.

            1. I've been to Setegaya on St. Mark's Place and find the place welcoming with a solid selection of noodle soups. But there is another noodle spot on University Place ,north side of the street around 12th street, that is just as good. It may even be another Setegaya. Two community tables which you sit at with high stools- just as good as the first and near you too.

              18 Replies
              1. re: pammi

                The 12th St location is another Setagaya, I've tried that one and didn't like it much. I walk to Ippudo for lunch during the week sometimes and there's usually no wait. Sobaya on 9th is also good during lunch time, no wait.

                1. re: lanadai

                  is there a menu online anywhere for setagaya?

                  1. re: emma

                    I just went to Ippudo for the first time and it was awesome. The noodles are more al dente and thinner than what you'll find in tokyo (I spent 3 months there). But it's fantastic, and a little bit of a nouveau twist on ramen. Rather than trying to imitate Japanese ramen, Ippudo has taken it to a new level. The broth is refreshing and not oily at all. The pork on the top is juicy, flavorful, but not fatty. It may be one of the best ramens I've ever had. I would strongly recommend it over Ssam or Momofuku, which are both waaaay overrated in my opinion...

                    1. re: foodie66

                      Am I the only one in NYC who did not like Ippudo?
                      Actually I liked it, in terms of the broth and the buns and the kakuni.

                      My main problem is with the noodles, which are way too thin and not al dente at all when I had them there (and I even had seconds to make sure). Maybe they're better now than the last time I went.

                      Then again, when you render down that much porcine fat and goodness, it's always going to taste good. I just wonder how many of the people who gush about Ippudo can really appreciate a shio ramen at Setagaya or Tsushima.

                      1. re: fooder

                        I only went to Ippudo once, and I can appreciate it. But my preference is for a lighter broth like the shio ramen at Setagaya.

                        The noodles I had at Ippudo were al dente. That's the kind of thing where it's really dependent on timing. Maybe the person doing the noodles for your bowl left them in for a little bit too long.

                        1. re: fooder

                          Noodle consistency at Japanese ramen places is like steak "doneness" at American steakhouses. Each restaurant has a default method but you can always just specify how you like it. How al dente a ramen shop's noodles are is a totally irrelevant review criteria. Just order how you like it. Regarding noodle gauge, Ippudo is a Hakata-based chain and noodles from that area tend to be closer to angel hair than other parts of Japan. A bunch of thin noodles creates pockets for the heavy tonkotsu broth to cling to. This is the point of the dish.

                          1. re: Silverjay

                            Silverjay, thanks for the info.

                            But doesnt that bring up the main point that it's hard to compare ramen places when they do entirely different styles? It just seems to me that that's often how things are compared online (when people ask what's the best ramen) and I was curious what exactly I was missing.

                            I understand the point of the thinner noodles, but perhaps the texture that I had that time really threw me off. As far as noodle consistency = steak doneness, while that idea might be true in principle, noone ever asks how I want my noodles, whereas any steakhouse will ask you how you want your steak done.

                            1. re: fooder

                              Some of your comments are clearly addressing your personal preference for one type of soup or firmness of noodle, not a broader comparison of quality. Although like you, I noted in a review of Setagaya when it first opened that it might be a challenge to be successful with shio soup ( I subsequently lamented a downhill turn I thought the shop took as well-

                              The steakhouse comparison is not 100% analogous, nevertheless you can always ask for how you want your noodles done. Many shops will print a scale that you can specify or simply have a note on the menu saying they can cook your noodles to desired firmness. I read Japanese reviews of shops in Japan all the time and noodle firmness isn't really an issue raised very often. Just order how you like. If they don't respond, that would be a problem.

                              1. re: Silverjay

                                I never took to setagaya when it first opened but recently I've been drawn back to it and now I can't get enough of the shio or miso ramen...outstanding. I still hit the 1 st ave branch but the new flushing one is very good also. Close call between Setagaya and Ippudo on the noodle front, pork wise maybe ippudo and broth wise...hmm...setagaya?

                                1. re: Scotty100

                                  I finally went to setagaya today. Had the miso ramen. Was good for the rainy evening but i'm going to say ipuddo is definitely by and large my preferred choice. but no it's not worth the difference in wait time

                                2. re: Silverjay

                                  Went back to Ippudo today for lunch. Went a little overboard, with buns, lunch set, extra noodles, and kakuni.

                                  I understand that the broth at Ippudo is on the stickier, heavier, richer side and the pocket that the noodles create. I'm still not sold on them being the best vehicle for that broth. I could easily see the wide flat noodles from lamb noodle soup (flushing, or others) working better with that broth.

                                  In the end I think it's a personal preference for noodle size and texture. While they did cook them "hard" al dente when requested for my second helping, there was still no bite, no springiness that I prefer from a noodle.

                                  1. re: fooder

                                    i'm not well-versed on japanese noodles, can someone please educate me? sublime homemade soba at 15 east has got me on a soba/udon kick. is all the broth at places like ippudo and setagaya meat based?

                                    1. re: emma

                                      Yes. Ramen soup is almost always made from animal bones and fat, not to mention some seafood. Setagaya's shio broth may not use animal stuff, but probably does. Soba broth is usually made with seafood.

                                      Ramen and soba are two completely, unrelated, disciplines.

                                    2. re: fooder

                                      They are serving a regional Japanese dish- and a pretty good rendition at that. So your preference is akin to saying you don't like Chicago pan pizza 'cause crust is too thick or New England clam chowder 'cause it's too creamy. It just is what it is.

                                      I prefer wide flat noodles too. And can't explain why, it would just be strange with those type of noodles and tonkotsu broth. I have never seen that before. Seems like it would be a pretty heavy dish. The lamb soup noodles in Flushing are in a light, clear soup...

                                      1. re: Silverjay

                                        Silverjay!! I feel like i finally found a kindred spirit! I like wide flat noodles too!! I really don't care for spaghetti but give me fettuccine, tagliatelle and the like and i'll gobble it up. it's the same reason i don't really care for ramen but chinese flat egg or rice noodles...oh man

                                          1. re: Silverjay

                                            Setagaya also has tsukemen. Did you like their version?