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Good ramen in e. village for early saturday dinner?

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trying post again without "toddler" in the subject line! Any recs for a low-key place to have a 5:30 ramen dinner saturday night in the e. village. Need a place where I can order plain noodles in addition to soups. Thanks!

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  1. Minca - but check opening time

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    Minca
    536 E 5th St, New York, NY 10009

    1. Minca is flat out horrible.

      Suggest going to Setagaya. They serve tsukemen and would probably serve just noodles. None of these places make their own noodles like Ippudo though. That is ultimately your best choice. They will probably accommodate. It may come down to how you massage the request. You can ask for a bowl of ramen and a side of extra noodles. This is not that unusual in Japan anyway since many shops practice the "kaedama" system.

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      Minca
      536 E 5th St, New York, NY 10009

      Ippudo
      65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

      2 Replies
      1. re: Silverjay

        I agree - I am so surprised at all of the rave reviews of Minca (I thought the broth tasted purely greasy with not much other flavor). Low-key automatically brings Setagaya to mind, as it's not waiter-service.

        1. re: janethepain

          I was at MInca a few weeks ago, had not been there in a long time, and I was pleasantly surprised.

      2. Alright since everyone is posting on this thread, I'm reposting from the thread with the toddler subject line:

        Don't quite understand why you're saying that Rai Rai Ken's menu is too limited when all your daughter needs will be noodles with no broth? I'm sure their chefs will be more than happy to prepare plain noodles for your daughter? (How old is she by the way, and how does she like her ramen besides just plain with nori?) Will she eat hiyashi chuka, a cold ramen noodle topped with thin strips of ham, cucumber, tamago, and sometimes charsiu?

        Ippudo is my personal favorite for ramen and will most certainly offer the noodles with no broth for your daughter in the form of kaedama. Also love the ramen at Momofuku Noodle for the perfectly poached onsen tamago, but pretty sure they won't offer noodles without broth for your daughter since they're so strict with no substitutions. (You might want to call ahead and check?) Although given that you're saving Ippudo for your bday, and Momofuku might not do the trick, you'll have to go for Tier 2 ramen. (Ippudo and Momofuku are Tier 1 in my book)

        Tier 2 ramen:
        Taisho or Oh! Taisho - seating arrangement (stools with no backs) not ideal with toddler although if you could take her to Rai Rai Ken you should be able to take her to Taisho. Their ramen is Hakata style (thin, white, straight, and firm) so if your daughter is picky and used to the style served at Rai Rai Ken, she might not like this style of noodles.

        Menkui Tei - closer to a tier 3 ramen, but very toddler friendly.

        I'm not a big fan of Minca or Setagaya, but if you do a quick search you'll see that ramen lovers are quite polarized in our tastes.

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        Minca
        536 E 5th St, New York, NY 10009

        Momofuku Noodle Bar
        171 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

        Rai Rai Ken
        214 E 10th St, New York, NY 10003

        Oh! Taisho
        9 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003

        Ippudo
        65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

        6 Replies
        1. re: Noodle fanatic

          For what it's worth, I had an awful initial experience at Minca, but have had excellent ramen there in my 7-8 subsequent visits. The broth is what pushes it over the top for me. If you don't like garlicky broths, you won't like Minca.

          I've always thought Setagaya was a bit middle-of-the-road, but a few of my Japanese buddies say it's the best in the city. Go figure.

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          Minca
          536 E 5th St, New York, NY 10009

          1. re: Noodle fanatic

            Momofuku's ramen is Tier 2 or 3. It's not the real deal.

            1. re: Silverjay

              Silverjay - when was the last time you had the Momofuku ramen? I tried it years ago when Momofuku Noodle was still in the now-Ko space and gave it a Tier 3 rating myself back then. I don't remember what kind of ramen I ordered at the time, but I remember the menu to be much more noodle centric back then with many kinds of ramen. I didn't return after that experience until this year when someone dragged me to the new location which only has 3 ramen offerings, 2 of which are non-traditional and without broth. I was pleasantly surprised by how much the signature Momofuku ramen had improved (the traditional one in tonkotsu broth with pork belly, pork shoulder, onsen tamago, menma). It was night and day from several years ago at the original location, and the perfectly poached egg completely won me over. However, with that said, I still find myself going to Ippudo more often, because even though the Momofuku ramen was outstanding, I've been finding the quality to be very inconsistent, where the broth could be imbalanced and way too salty at times, and the broth not hot enough when the service is spotty. On the days they don't over-salt the broth and get the temperature right, it's definitely Tier 1 in my book.

              The big surprise with Momofuku Noodle is that their best ramen is actually a non-traditional one - the ginger scallion noodles with seasonal vegetables, cucumber, and menma (no broth). Very well balanced flavors. Must try in my opinion if you're a noodle lover. Their 3rd ramen, the chilled spicy noodles with Sichuan spiced sausage, spinach, cashews, is for the person in your party who loves and can handle extremely hot and spicy foods. It's the kind of spiciness that you don't taste/feel until about 15 seconds after you swallow the food - the most potent kind that just creeps up on you. It's very good if you like super spicy foods, but I always end up ordering the first 2.

              Where are your personal favorite real-deal ramen houses outside of Japan these days? And who in the city has the best real-deal ramen in your book? Most of my Japanese friends like Ippudo best, and sometimes Taisho, and Rockmeisha.

              For those who might not be familiar with the word "onsen" (温泉), it literally means Japanese hot spring. You gotta love the poetic meaning behind the egg bathing in a hot spring of broth.

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              Momofuku Noodle Bar
              171 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

              Rockmeisha
              11 Barrow St, New York, NY 10014

              Ippudo
              65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

              1. re: Noodle fanatic

                I went to Momofuku Noodle several years ago and again earlier this year. I didn't find the ramen of any particular distinction either time. The soup isn't special. I did have a soupless sort of marinated ramen there the last time that was pretty good, but it's not a restaurant I would ever go back to... Poached eggs are fine, but not ideal for ramen. I much prefer when shops make their own aji-tsuke hangyuku egg....The only ramen worth going out of my way for is Ippudo. I haven't tried Rockmeisha nor Ramen Totto nor some of these izakaya Japanese restaurants that have ramen tacked on to their menus. The good news is that you can find multiple options for authentic ramen or other Japanese foods here in NY. Still, most of it doesn't rise to the level of destination worthy unless you have a particular hankering for it. For ramen, the best hope is that other chains in Japan or US take a similar approach as Ippudo/ Totto and throw some money at it. I thought Setagaya was going to be like this,but it seems not to have panned out as well.

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                Rockmeisha
                11 Barrow St, New York, NY 10014

                Ippudo
                65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

                1. re: Silverjay

                  Silverjay - Really appreciate your candor! Looking forward to your review if/when you get a chance to try Ramen Totto. Doubt Taisho will live up to your expectations so I'd say skip it unless you're craving ramen after 1am.

                  1. re: Silverjay

                    rockmeisha's ramen is ok but ya . . . it's all about ippudo. but, I've yet to try Terakawa or Totto so I'll wait on that.

            2. Gyu Kaku

              1 Reply
              1. re: UES Mayor

                I was just there last week, for grilled stuff (which wasn't that great). But there were a lot of kids, so it would be a good choice for the OP. How does Gyu Kaku's ramen compare to Menkui-tei's? That's where I usually go when I'm in that neighborhood.