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Need Recommendation for a Ramen place in NYC for dinner with a 12 year old...

typeogirl Aug 25, 2010 07:57 AM

Hey everyone, looking for a great ramen place to take my son, who is obsessed with Ramen. He eats instant ramen when I allow it, sees ramen restaurants on TV, and we are taking him to the NYC for a day soon. Seeking a child friendly, but quality, sit down Ramen/Noodle Shop/Restaurant.

He wants to have dinner in a real authentic ramen place, but of course, when reality hits and he sees the real thing, its gonna be a little tough to order. He loves chicken, and pork-but I am not sure how he will feel about the fatty pork that I think is usually in ramen soups. At this age he still will not eat seafood. He likes broccoli, edamame, corn/baby corns, but he's not too down with many other veggies that you would find typically in a ramen soup.

My husband and I are more experimental and willing to try things, so my concern is more for a restaurant for my son. What is the proper etiquette at a Ramen or Noodle House? Can you just ask for Noodles, Chicken and Broth?

I've read about Ippudo, Momofuku and the like, but I am not sure if this is the kind of place to take my son. If you are allowed and its appropriate, to customize your bowl of soup, then maybe my concerns are a non-issue.

Looking forward to hearing recommendations and advice.

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Ippudo
65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

  1. g
    gutsofsteel Aug 25, 2010 08:25 AM

    If you want to "customize" you should avoid Ippudo which is a huge place. I'd also avoid Momofuku for ramen.

    I'd suggest Minca. Very friendly and you can talk to the chefs (you're sitting right in front of them) which I bet your son would enjoy, and you could ask for whatever you want and they'd accomodate you.

    Rai Rai Ken would work too.

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

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

    Ippudo
    65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

    1. k
      kathryn Aug 25, 2010 08:25 AM

      The Momofuku group of restaurants does not allow any substitutions or modifications to the dishes, so I wouldn't take a picky eater there.

      1 Reply
      1. re: kathryn
        typeogirl Aug 26, 2010 08:51 AM

        thanks kathryn. this was helpful.

      2. princeofpork Aug 25, 2010 12:16 PM

        Try Moco on 3rd and 34th. They make the noodles fresh every day and they are very accomodating to their customers.

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        Moco
        516 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10016

        1 Reply
        1. re: princeofpork
          typeogirl Aug 26, 2010 08:50 AM

          I just looked on Moco's menu. It doesn't look like they are serving ramen anymore?

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          Moco
          516 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10016

        2. EV_Eats Aug 25, 2010 12:21 PM

          My 2 cents here; Ippudo is just plain amazing, there's also Rai Rai Ken, Minca, Ramen Setagaya & Kambi Ramen House. All good, but Ippudo is a cut above. Happy Slurping!
          ____
          http://www.eveats.com

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

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

          Ippudo
          65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

          Kambi
          351 E 14th St, New York, NY 10003

          Ramen Setagaya
          34 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003

          1. Silverjay Aug 25, 2010 05:57 PM

            Go to Ippudo. It's probably the only ramen shop in the city worth going out of your way for in terms of quality. The interior is nice and they have tables that families can sit in. Ok, it's a little unconventional by typical ramen shop standards in its' level of upscaledness(?), but it's very pleasant for lunch. They have several broths to choose from. You can order whatever you want and they will customize it. This is standard at ramen shops. Ask them to leave toppings off or to just bring them on the side. The thing your son might enjoy most is the long window that allows you to watch them prepare everything, which is a decent compromise to sitting in front of a guy within splashing distance.

            1. jenniebnyc Aug 25, 2010 10:42 PM

              rai rai ken or sapporo

              1. w
                west34 Aug 26, 2010 09:53 AM

                Ippudo is the place to go! A 12 year old will love it - fun environment with all that yelling in Japanese. And the pork in the regular ramen is pretty lean.

                He will also leave with a new obsession once he tries Ippudo pork buns.

                -----
                Ippudo
                65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

                1. Notorious P.I.G. Aug 26, 2010 11:27 AM

                  My first taste of real Ramen was a fatty butter miso broth at the tender age of 7 with fatty hunks of pork and I have to say that it changed my tastes and formed a sort of reference point for all Ramen to come after.

                  I say take him to Ippudo, because as Silverjay noted it's really the only place worth going out of your way for. Get three different kinds of Ramen between you and share them as there's bound to be something in there he likes.

                  And if he doesn't like it, then maybe it wasn't meant to be...

                  -----
                  Ippudo
                  65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

                  1. thew Aug 26, 2010 11:53 AM

                    ippudo is the best, but ti also costs most, but they do have extras to add in for customization. i doubt you can remove things though. but ive never tried.

                    minca was a dissapointment to me. the broth was over buttered and greasy tasting.

                    menkui tai is fun and quirky - might be fun for a kid

                    never mentioned is naruto ramen uptown, which i think is many ways comes closest to the ramen at a counter experience in japan.

                    12 Replies
                    1. re: thew
                      g
                      gutsofsteel Aug 26, 2010 01:13 PM

                      Naruto is a sweet place but the food is really not good.

                      1. re: gutsofsteel
                        thew Aug 26, 2010 01:15 PM

                        so you often say. but i happen to like their ramen.

                        1. re: thew
                          s
                          small h Aug 26, 2010 01:34 PM

                          Me, too. I also agree with your assessment of Minca & Menkui Tei (my personal favorite, now that Menchako Tei on 55th is gone - sniff).

                          1. re: small h
                            g
                            glutton08 Aug 26, 2010 02:11 PM

                            Menchanko Tei on 55th btw 5th and 6th is still there.

                            1. re: glutton08
                              s
                              small h Aug 26, 2010 03:02 PM

                              It is? Have I been misinformed?

                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/709357

                              1. re: small h
                                g
                                glutton08 Aug 27, 2010 06:13 AM

                                Had lunch from there Tues.

                                1. re: glutton08
                                  s
                                  small h Aug 30, 2010 02:04 PM

                                  This is very good news. Thank you.

                          2. re: thew
                            g
                            gutsofsteel Aug 26, 2010 01:54 PM

                            You think their ramen compares favorably to Ippudo? Setagaya? Rai Rai Ken?

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

                            Ippudo
                            65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

                            1. re: gutsofsteel
                              thew Aug 26, 2010 02:02 PM

                              have not eaten at rai rai ken. no, i do not think it is as good as ippudo. but that's like comparing a neighborhood hamburger joint to per se. at half the price w/ an entirely different feel, without the 2 hour wait for a table midweek, they are just not the same experience in any way shape or form.

                              i was at ippudo this week. i'll go to ippudo a few times a year. i'll go to naruto at least once a month. they just don;t fill the same niche to me, so comparing them is useless. again - for me.

                              i've been told by a food friend i trust about Hide-Chan Ramen on 52nd street. havent tried myself but she and her fiance rave about the pork broth there

                              1. re: thew
                                m
                                MBovary Aug 30, 2010 03:32 PM

                                Rai rai ken has a very traditional ramen shop feel, but it is not my favorite ramen. I haven't been there in probably 3-4 years, however.

                                Hide-Chan is excellent. Tonkotsu broth is more of a southern Japanese phenom but probably my favorite kind for ramen and Hide-Chan's is very good. I also think their noodles are consistently exactly the right consistency--I've found a number of NY ramen places tend a shade over al dente (though I don't let my noodles sit in the bowl once they're in front of me.)

                                Ippudo is very good, but the nightmare crowds factor is always a turnoff for me and if the boy is anything like I used to be (or am) waiting in line when hungry equals meltdowns and ruined meals no matter how good they might be.

                                -----
                                Ippudo
                                65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

                                1. re: MBovary
                                  thew Aug 31, 2010 08:29 AM

                                  the OP is talking about a 12 year old, not a 4 year old

                                  1. re: thew
                                    m
                                    MBovary Sep 1, 2010 03:15 PM

                                    LOL Yes, and I was talking about myself--significantly older than both 4 and 12 year olds. I hate long waits when I am hungry.

                      2. s
                        SamanthaNYC Aug 31, 2010 07:25 AM

                        I also recommend Menchankotei - great ramen, and they allow you to customize to some degree.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: SamanthaNYC
                          k
                          KateMW Sep 1, 2010 04:12 PM

                          Ok, now y'all have me wanting to try Ippudo. The menu looks great! I have no idea what to order though. Anybody have some quick ramen tips/explanations? We don't get a ton of Ramen down here in the Deep South...unless you mean in the package at the Piggly Wiggly. ;)

                          1. re: KateMW
                            thew Sep 1, 2010 05:11 PM

                            i love the akimaru modern, and the salt ramen. one is unctuous, the other light

                            1. re: KateMW
                              Notorious P.I.G. Sep 1, 2010 10:42 PM

                              I'm not sure if they will have it on the menu because they rotate it out sometimes but if it happens to be on the menu when you go, try to get the Kogashi Miso Ramen. It's a specialty of Ippudo's more upscale sister restaurant Gogyo in Tokyo. It's a "Burnt" Miso Ramen made incorporating the oil from charred garlic. Really great.

                          2. thehungrything Sep 3, 2010 05:05 AM

                            I saw this thread earlier in the week when I was trying to decide where to take my 11 year old son for lunch when we came into New York for a Wicked matinee. Unlike the OP my son is a foodie and has been known to eat tongue, liver, chicken gizzards, etc...
                            I had never had real Ramen; I associated ramen with those little packs of dried noodles that were the subsistence of all college students with dorm room hot pots.
                            Convinced by this thread, we went to Ippudo for lunch. We got there at 11 am when it opened so there was no waiting. They have specific spots in the restaurant where they sit parties of certain numbers. If you are two people you are seated at a bar in seats that fit together like a loveseat. Singles sit at large round tables and booths are for larger parties. When you walk in the entire staff gives you a loud greeting in Japanese. I failed to ask what they were saying but it was boisterous and friendly.
                            We shared an order of pork buns. They were the best pork buns I have ever eaten. The bun was very light and slightly spongy, the pork belly filling was perfectly sauced, and melted in your mouth and a little fresh lettuce was there for a crunchy counterpoint. They were better than the pork buns at Momofuku, or for those of you who have ventured to Philly, better than Jose Garces' pork buns at Chifa.
                            I ordered the Modern broth with the addition of a poached egg and some pickled mustard greens on the side. The broth was rich and delicious with miso and garlic oil. I loved the egg and got one small bite of it, my 11 yr old ate the rest. Note to self, buy the boy his own egg next time!! I liked the mustard greens as well. The iced green tea was very good.
                            My son got the spicy broth with the addition of braised pork belly. His broth was also really good. The amount of pork belly you get with the extra order is a lot, but we managed to finish it. The braised pork belly is drier and has more flavor than the pieces of pork belly that come in the soup, and the pieces are much thicker.
                            My son was excellent at the slurping that one is instructed to do to fully enjoy the flavors and textures of soup and noodles. I need much more practice, so I will have to return, many times......

                            -----
                            Ippudo
                            65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: thehungrything
                              d
                              dubitable Sep 3, 2010 08:19 AM

                              "When you walk in the entire staff gives you a loud greeting in Japanese. I failed to ask what they were saying but it was boisterous and friendly."

                              It was most likely "irasshaimase" (いらっしゃいませ), what Japanese employees in most any shop or restaurant in Japan say when a customer comes in. It basically means "welcome, come on in." (For more/too much information: http://ask.metafilter.com/110393/What...

                              )

                              Great thread! I can't wait to check some of these places out next time I'm in NYC.

                              1. re: dubitable
                                thehungrything Sep 3, 2010 12:07 PM

                                The greeting at this restaurant was a call and response. The person seating you called something and the rest of the staff responded back. The first call could have been irasshaimase but the responding chorus was longer(and louder).
                                There is a sushi bar that we go to in Pennsylvania run by a Korean family and the loud call from the sushi bar to entering customers sounds something like shoyzhai, I am not sure if it is a Korean or Japanese greeting.

                            2. woodleyparkhound Sep 9, 2010 09:57 AM

                              I was convinced by this thread (and by the recent closing of my favorite ramen place - and only ramen place - in DC) to try Ippudo last weekend while I was in NYC. I ate both my first and my last NY meal there. Loved the place. For my first meal, I started with pork buns. Delicious, as promised; thehungrything described them well. I then opted for karaka ("special blended hot spice") miso ramen, which I had never had before. It was excellent; I especially loved the ball of chopped ginger atop the bowl. The noodles were a bit too soft for me though.

                              The second time I visited, I got the "miso ramen", opting to pay an extra $4 for braised pork belly, and asking for the noodles to be slightly hard-cooked. The braised pork belly was delicious, but I found it to be overkill as the pork that comes with the ramen is delicious and plentiful.

                              In the end, I thought that the broth at my favorite local place was richer, deeper and porkier than Ippudo's. I enjoyed the broth at Ippudo, but it tasted a bit watery and flat in comparison. I also prefer the noodles at my local place; they seem more substantial, with a more toothsome bite to them. Ippudo's ramen is so much better for their add-ins though - especially the pork and the ginger. They also have a much greater variety of ramens from which to choose.

                              I got a kick out of the "call and response" atmosphere of the places as well. It was definitely not a mere "irasshaimase"!

                              -----
                              Ippudo
                              65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: woodleyparkhound
                                Silverjay Sep 9, 2010 10:47 AM

                                In Japan, Ippudo's broth is actually heavier, richer, deeper, and porkier. Around the time they opened this branch here, there was an article in a Japanese paper or news service that discussed how the owners did not think the original recipe would succeed in the U.S. and that they researched and made adjustments in order to appeal to American tastes. They did not go into specifics, but I think it was the issue of heaviness and porkiness. Anyway, not to be a dick, but your shop in DC closed and people are still waiting in line to dine at Ippudo 2 years after opening. There are of course many variables involved, but perhaps the Ippudo recipe has something to do with it.?.?. I sincerely don't know. I'm like you in that I prefer my tonkotsu richer, deeper, and porkier as well.

                                1. re: Silverjay
                                  woodleyparkhound Sep 9, 2010 11:00 AM

                                  Interesting to get some background on Ippudo ... when restaurants make "adjustments in order to appeal to American tastes", that usually bodes ill for me personally!

                                  The DC place (Ren's Ramen) closed because of lease problems outside their control - not due to lack of customers; I should have made that clear. They are currently looking for an appropriate space in which to re-open. There are a lot of people here waiting most anxiously for the re-opening to occur. They do Sapporo-style ramen. I am not versed on the different types and what Sapporo-style actually means versus other styles. I thought maybe the richness reflected the Sapporo style, but your post casts some doubt on that theory.

                                  -----
                                  Ippudo
                                  65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

                                  1. re: woodleyparkhound
                                    Silverjay Sep 9, 2010 11:06 AM

                                    Sapporo ramen is usually miso mixed with a chicken, pork, or blended broth. Ippudo is from Fukuoka, where heavier pork broths and thin noodles are popular. Ippudo has a miso tonkotsu option on the menu which may have given you the bolder experience you were looking for.

                                    -----
                                    Ippudo
                                    65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

                                    1. re: Silverjay
                                      woodleyparkhound Sep 9, 2010 11:43 AM

                                      The miso on the menu is described this way: soy bean paste flavored ramen noodles in tonkotsu soup with pork belly chashu, cabbage, spinach, manma, ginger & scallions. Maybe you meant the "Akamaru Modern"? (The original tonkotsu' soup noodle with Ippudo's special sauce, pork belly chashu, cabage, kikurage, scallions, miso paste & fragrant garlic oil).

                                      I certainly wouldn't mind a return trip to Ippudo to try another type!

                                      -----
                                      Ippudo
                                      65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

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