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Exceptional Ramen in NYC

willscarlett Oct 25, 2013 02:34 PM

Since it's fall and the weather is cooling off a bit, I'm on a bit of a ramen kick. I've had ramen plenty before this fall, but with the cooler weather, have decided to revisit a few old places and try some new ones. I'll list below where I've already eaten and would appreciate any suggestions people have. Most places I've been have just been due to Yelp or word of mouth.

Blew Me Away -

1) Santouka (in Edgewater, NJ)

Really liked -

1) Ippudo
2) Totto Ramen
3) Minca Ramen
4) Donburiya
5) Jin Ramen

Decent -

1) Momofuku Noodle Bar
2) Jinya

Wouldn't return

1) Ramen Setagaya

I have been to Rai Rai Ken, back in 2010. I really don't remember it well enough, but it was my first ramen experience, so it will always be special in that regard. I remember liking it at the time and may return.

Other places I've found that seem to be well reviewed and I'm thinking of checking out are listed below, so if anyone could chime in on them, or any place else that is noteworthy, thank you!

1) Zen 6
2) Ramen Misoya
3) Zutto Japanese Pub

  1. m
    MrGrumpy Oct 25, 2013 06:35 PM

    Definitely try Ramen Misoya.

    Katsu Hama on West 56th used to serve good ramen but I'm not sure if the restaurant has reopened.

    23 Replies
    1. re: MrGrumpy
      willscarlett Oct 25, 2013 06:59 PM

      They have reopened, but they don't have an online menu outside of Allmenus.com. I'll check out if the ramen is still there.

      Anything you recommend at Misoya?

      1. re: willscarlett
        MrGrumpy Oct 28, 2013 12:53 PM

        Kome Miso Cha-Shu

        1. re: MrGrumpy
          willscarlett Oct 28, 2013 01:13 PM

          Looks yummy. Never had ramen with corn, tho I do see a lot of places offer that. Is it traditional?

          1. re: willscarlett
            MrGrumpy Oct 28, 2013 02:03 PM

            I've heard that ramen with corn is traditional in Hokkaido but I'm not really sure.

            1. re: willscarlett
              Silverjay Oct 28, 2013 02:28 PM

              Pretty standard in miso ramen from Sapporo/ Hokkaido environs. Sometimes add butter as well...Potatoes are less common though...

              1. re: Silverjay
                Tripeler Nov 13, 2013 11:59 PM

                Yes, though the irony is that most all corn used in ramen in Hokkaido comes from the U.S. as frozen food.

                1. re: Tripeler
                  Lau Nov 14, 2013 12:00 AM

                  well the US produces like 40%+ of the world's corn...people forget the US is basically the biggest farming nation in the world

                  1. re: Tripeler
                    Silverjay Nov 14, 2013 12:15 AM

                    Deeper irony is that Sapporo's grid pattern for streets was influenced by American advisers....Many people associate miso ramen with Hokkaido, but it is really a Sapporo specialty. Hakodate and Asahikawa both have their own types of ramen. Santouka is actually originally from Asahikawa.

                    1. re: Silverjay
                      Lau Nov 14, 2013 07:41 AM

                      haha nice

                      really people associate ramen with hokkaido? i associate weird ramen with hokkaido that has stuff like corn and butter in it

                      1. re: Lau
                        Silverjay Nov 14, 2013 08:37 AM

                        Ah well Hokkaido in general is known in Japan for corn and dairy products, among other things, so it's not so weird over there. Kind of like how we associate potatoes with Idaho, cheese Wisconsin, oranges Florida, etc.

                        1. re: Silverjay
                          Lau Nov 14, 2013 09:08 AM

                          its just that i find corn and butter weird in ramen bc i didn't grow up eating it like that....that said weird doesn't mean bad (at least for me) as i like both corn and butter and ramen and im totally fine with them (i like hokkaido style ramen...although technically ive yet to find a style of ramen i dont like if its made well)

                          1. re: Lau
                            Silverjay Nov 14, 2013 10:18 AM

                            There's a place in Tokyo (in Ebisu) that puts cheese on their ramen!

                            1. re: Silverjay
                              Lau Nov 14, 2013 11:02 AM

                              even weirder! although i can see that happening

                              1. re: Silverjay
                                villainx Nov 14, 2013 11:32 AM

                                Ivan does that, though it's not of the gloppy variety. I think it's to necessary sub for the seafood or vegetarian broths.

                                For the instant ramen I do at home, if available, I often throw in a slice of cheese.

                                1. re: Silverjay
                                  Humbucker Nov 14, 2013 11:46 AM

                                  The Ippudo in Hong Kong has the option to add a big hunk of gooey stringy cheese (low fat mozzarella?) to the ramen. I kind of liked the juxtaposition of the noodles with the stretchy cheese.

                                  1. re: Humbucker
                                    Silverjay Nov 14, 2013 11:51 AM

                                    I should have specified that the cheese at the shop I mentioned is added to miso ramen as a nod to the dairy industry in Hokkaido. An "homage of fromage" if you will!...I'm sure there are various shops around throwing cheese and other stuff into their soups...

                                    1. re: Silverjay
                                      Lau Nov 14, 2013 12:01 PM

                                      actually i forgot about that, last time i was in HK Hokkaido milk is like a new fad, so many places advertised they were using Hokkaido milk particularly in milk pudding (HK milk pudding is really good)

                                      1. re: Lau
                                        Humbucker Nov 14, 2013 12:51 PM

                                        I saw Hokkaido milk bread in HK, too.

                                        1. re: Humbucker
                                          Lau Nov 14, 2013 01:24 PM

                                          oh yah i saw that too

                            2. re: Lau
                              Tripeler Nov 14, 2013 09:01 AM

                              In Hokkaido that sort of ramen is far from weird. No doubt the original corn put into ramen was grown in Hokkaido, which is where the custom is from. Besides, butter is a natural match for miso broth.

                    2. re: MrGrumpy
                      willscarlett Nov 13, 2013 05:19 PM

                      Tried the Kome Miso Cha-Shu on Tuesday. Overall, pretty good. Ramen Misoya has some happy hour specials - you get a free soft boiled egg in your soup from 4-7 and an extra piece of pork cha-shu in your soup if you check in on Yelp.

                      Anyways, as to the dish as a whole - the broth, noodles and extras were mostly quite good. The broth tasted slightly saltier at the bottom, once everything else had been consumed. The soft boiled egg was also completely cold and the pork wasn't like shoe leather, but definitely wasn't the really tender, melt in your mouth pork that you get elsewhere. It was a bit chewy.

                      1. re: willscarlett
                        MrGrumpy Nov 13, 2013 08:09 PM

                        Oh no, sorry you had a subpar experience. Perhaps they're not as consistent as I thought.

                        1. re: MrGrumpy
                          willscarlett Nov 13, 2013 08:17 PM

                          Don't sweat it. Overall, it was very yummy and satisfying. I'd give it 4 out of 5 stars. Def better than Ramen Setagaya or Jinya.

                2. p
                  plf515 Oct 25, 2013 06:43 PM

                  I haven't been to the one in NJ

                  I liked Jin better than Ippudo.

                  Totto I liked a lot.

                  1. kosmose7 Oct 25, 2013 07:45 PM

                    Hanjan's Korean Spicy Ramyun sold after 9pm everyday is pretty awesome. It has recently won the title of "best soup in New York" by Village Voice.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: kosmose7
                      willscarlett Oct 25, 2013 08:03 PM

                      I'd read about that one. Have you had it and recommend it?

                      1. re: willscarlett
                        kosmose7 Oct 25, 2013 08:42 PM

                        Hearty soup prepared by boiling pork, chicken, fish bones, and chilies all day, as well as meaty pork charsiu and jidori egg. Tastes great!

                        1. re: kosmose7
                          willscarlett Oct 25, 2013 09:03 PM

                          Looks very good and the broth looks rich and flavorful! How is the spice factor with the chiles tho?

                          1. re: willscarlett
                            kosmose7 Oct 25, 2013 10:17 PM

                            It is quite spicy, but not painful-spicy because they use Korean red pepper powder, which is made after removing the chili seeds. Korean red pepper is also generally sweeter.

                            I am also glad you like Santouka.
                            It is one of my most favorite ramen houses in NY too.

                            1. re: kosmose7
                              willscarlett Oct 25, 2013 11:55 PM

                              I'm not the biggest fan of 'quite spicy', but thank you for informing me. My girlfriend is Korean tho, but my tolerance for spice hasn't improved as much as it should have!

                    2. f
                      fooder Oct 25, 2013 10:12 PM

                      As the ramen scene in NYC has become more and more developed, it's beginning to remind me of the steakhouse scene where certain steakhouses are really better for specific cuts than "just a steak": http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/690190

                      Between the different soup bases and variations of noodles, it'd be awesome if someone came up with a list of the specialties in NYC. I like tonkotsu but I'm not as enamored with it as many people seem to be. I prefer shio to shoyu, and prefer thicker wavy noodles to the thin straight ones.

                      I'm not sure which broth/noodle combination you're looking for, but the green curry ramen at Bassanova is both unique and delicious: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/916407

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: fooder
                        willscarlett Oct 25, 2013 11:54 PM

                        I've read about Bassanova. You seem to like it, hmm? I've thought about going, but am not down in Chinatown that often. Your photo made the portion look a bit small, which is something I've heard others say. Is it a small portion for the price?

                        1. re: willscarlett
                          fooder Oct 26, 2013 06:31 PM

                          Well, at EVERY ramen shop in the city I always end up getting extra pork and kaedama (except the jumbo at Sapporo), so to me the portion sizes are all equal. It definitely feels like you're paying midtown prices in Chinatown, which may affect how you view it. The noodles are very thick and the broth does have a slick of oil to it, so it should still fill you up.

                      2. Charles Yu Oct 25, 2013 10:25 PM

                        Guess New York Chowhounders and Toronto Chowhounders have identical tastebuds!!!
                        Most of us also voted 'Santouka's Toronto branch as our favourite!!
                        Personally, also found Santouka is better than Ippudo!! Great broth!!
                        However, if you have a chance to visit us in Toronto, we have an Izakaya-'Kingyo', that churns out a 'Dan Dan Ramen' that even trumps Santouka's!!! Absolutely awesome!!!


                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Charles Yu
                          willscarlett Oct 25, 2013 11:52 PM

                          While I didn't have a bowl of Ippudo's next to me at the time, my instinct tells me that Santouka is better than Ippudo. I was there around 7:30 on a Tuesday night and there was no line, not to mention the price for their super melty pork cheek ramen with the salt based broth was somewhere between $10 and $13.

                          I've never been to Toronto, but I'll check out Kingyo if I'm ever there!

                          1. re: Charles Yu
                            Lau Nov 13, 2013 04:56 PM

                            i dont think ippudo in NY is that great its good, but i think its overhyped a bit

                            1. re: Charles Yu
                              willscarlett Nov 15, 2013 11:55 PM

                              I ate lunch at Ippudo yesterday. I had the Akamaru Modern ramen and it was quite good, tho I now definitely know that I at least prefer the broth at Santouka. It's much richer than what Ippudo serves and that may or may not appeal to everyone.

                              I did ask and they do still make their own noodles at Ippduo, which a lot of places don't do anymore.

                            2. ipsedixit Oct 25, 2013 10:52 PM

                              It's hard to just say "ramen" without differentiating between the different striations of ramen.

                              There's the broth (tonkotsu versus miso versus shio versus shōyu), the accouterments, the noodles, and all the various regional styles, etc.

                              To make things simple, I'm just going to give my favorites based on broth.

                              Tonkotsu - Ippudo
                              Shōyu - Minca
                              Shio - Jin
                              Miso - ?
                              Omakase - Yuji (*hat tip to Lau)
                              Chicken broth - Totto

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                willscarlett Oct 25, 2013 11:49 PM

                                I noticed you put Yuji Ramen on here. This is what is served at the Whole Foods on Houston, yes?

                                Perhaps you could elaborate a bit more on it. I've heard a lot of positive things about Yuji, but also that it's a very small portion for the price.

                                1. re: willscarlett
                                  ipsedixit Oct 26, 2013 12:00 AM

                                  Read Lau's post on Yuji here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9074...

                                  That's the post that turned me onto Yuji.

                                  As to the omakase, you have to reserve a ticket via their e-mail ramenomakase@gmail.com.

                                  Yuji's uni mazemen is truly exceptional and should not be missed before it goes out of season.

                                2. re: ipsedixit
                                  Lau Nov 13, 2013 04:57 PM

                                  yuji is nice, glad you liked

                                3. p
                                  pravit Oct 26, 2013 05:57 PM

                                  I like Zen 6 when I'm in the mood for ramen - it's maybe not destination dining, but they do a great white broth tonkotsu ramen. I personally don't like the extremely rich/salty tonkotsu broth that some places make, but the one at Zen 6 is to my liking.

                                  I like the green curry ramen at Bassanova, especially the thicker noodles they give you, but their ramen is quite expensive (~$14 a bowl) and their tonkotsu broth is a bit too rich for my tastes.

                                  1. a
                                    avial Oct 27, 2013 04:09 PM

                                    Hide-chan is still my go to for noodles, Totto for broth.

                                    Still looking for an excellent tsukemen place, tried Minca's about two months ago and it was just noodles in one bowl, normal broth in another.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: avial
                                      willscarlett Oct 27, 2013 09:19 PM

                                      What exactly is tsukemen?

                                      1. re: willscarlett
                                        ipsedixit Oct 27, 2013 09:24 PM

                                        dipping noodles

                                        1. re: ipsedixit
                                          willscarlett Oct 27, 2013 09:38 PM

                                          How does that work? Noodles served outside of the broth?

                                          1. re: willscarlett
                                            ipsedixit Oct 27, 2013 09:51 PM


                                            It's ramen deconstructed, DIY.

                                            Tsukemen is a variety of ramen where the noodles arrive separately, cold or at room temperature, along with a bowl of intense broth. The noodles are meant to be dipped into the broth. The customary ramen accouterments -- chashu, boiled egg, menma, nori, etc. -- are usually nestled ontop of or alongside the noodles.

                                            If you're ever in LA, Tsujita does a fantastic rendition of this type of ramen.

                                            1. re: ipsedixit
                                              willscarlett Oct 27, 2013 10:19 PM

                                              Ahh LA - I spent a summer there at USC when I was 21. Been back to CA since then, but never LA.

                                    2. w
                                      west34 Oct 27, 2013 08:31 PM

                                      Not sure what style it is or how authentic, but the ton ton men ramen at Tabata on 9th ave is fantastic IMHO.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: west34
                                        kosmose7 Oct 27, 2013 08:49 PM

                                        Yeah, Tabata's Tan Tan Men (or Hiyashi Tan Tan during summer) is great. It is by far the most authentic Tan Tan Men I have eaten in NY. My Japanese friends also strongly recommend it.

                                        Besides, the place is quite busy but still I don't have to wait on line like at Ippudo or Totto.

                                        1. re: kosmose7
                                          willscarlett Oct 27, 2013 09:20 PM

                                          How is their seafood and tonkatsu ramen?

                                          1. re: willscarlett
                                            kosmose7 Oct 27, 2013 09:57 PM

                                            You mean tonkotsu (pork bone broth), as opposed to tonkatsu (pork cutlet). They are decent, but I think Tan Tan Men is the best at Tabata.

                                            I always order Pork Nira Niku Itame (stir fried leek and pork) together with Tan Tan Men.

                                            1. re: kosmose7
                                              willscarlett Oct 27, 2013 10:19 PM

                                              Sounds like some interesting combos. And thanks for correcting me :)

                                        2. re: west34
                                          foodmonk Nov 20, 2013 01:51 PM

                                          I was here today and, yes, I had the tantan-men. I enjoyed the rich sesame broth with chili oil. Also had the agedashi tofu which was fine, but in retrospect, I maybe could have chosen something a bit more interest.

                                        3. Silverjay Oct 28, 2013 11:11 AM

                                          I used to enjoy Santouka, especially before Ippudo had opened. It was the best ramen shop in the area. I was a legacy customer of their's from my days in Tokyo. However after about 3 lousy bowls across a couple of years, I usually skip it nowadays. The soup isn't as accomplished as I once thought it was. I don't know what the problem is. I have one friend who thinks they make their base broth in a commissary and then send it out to the Mitsuwa Santouka locations around the country. I usually go to Mitsuwa now for the food fairs anyway, so I eat what's on that day. But they also do ramen fairs with pop-up operations from Japan- something to keep an eye out for if you want to try new ones.

                                          Ippudo and Totto I think are rock solid.

                                          Minca and RaiRaiKen I thought were both terrible. Haven't eaten at them for years. RRK, we walked out and left our food halfway through. This was years ago though....Minca I tried a few times and a bunch of their menu. Just lousy. I also tried a bowl of gyoukai (seafood broth) tsukemen at Kambi, their sister restaurant on 14th St. This was meant to be in the same style of Tetsu, Rokurinsha, etc., shops in Tokyo that popularized this style. It was a gallant attempt, but way way short. I'm not sure if that is on their regular menu or if it was just a special.

                                          Kuboya, the shop next to Minca, made me a couple of good bowls of shio and miso ramen, but this was a couple years ago now. They pop up on Groupon these days, so times might be hard on them...

                                          Ramen Setagaya was very good shio ramen when they first opened on 1st ave. The Japanese staff saw it through in the early stages. Then it got dumped off to the local investors and fell off in quality. I stopped going before it moved to current St. Mark's location.

                                          Momofuku's pretty much sucks. So boring. They did do a very nice abura soba (ramen) once years ago. Not sure if this is on the menu or not anymore. Yuji Ramen has embraced this style (called "mazemen"). I haven't been to his Whole Foods operation. Just had the uni version at the Kinfolk Studios popup last year or so. It was decent. Not sure how well this style fulfills cold weather ramen cravings though. He's opening a shop in Williamsburg soon.

                                          Williamsburg is home to Ramen Yebisu which is run by a guy from Hokkaido. When it is on (it's a bit inconsistent) they do a nice miso ramen with a very good seafood-based broth and a good custom noodle they have made by Sun. When it is off though, it can be excessively oily.

                                          Misoya ramen is fine. The base broth is not as complex or interesting as Ramen Yebisu, but they load in a heavy scoop of miso- so if you like bold miso flavor, this one is for you. The toppings though have been screwy when I've gone. Chashu is just so inconsistent. They have several types of miso to choose from though.

                                          Terakawa Ramen on Lex does a Kumamoto style tonkotsu. I haven't been back in a while. It was decent, not great when I tried a few years ago...I saw an ad recently in a Japanese free paper that Ichibantei, a little izakaya/restaurant on 13th and 1st Ave. is now starting to offer their own version of Kumamoto ramen. Owner is from there, so might be worth a try.

                                          Because I tend to favor ramen as a specialized cuisine, I haven't partaken in regular restaurants that offer it on their menu- i.e. Ichibantei, Donburiya, Rokumeisha, etc. Have heard also there is a late night ramen shop at Sebo and now Ushiwakamaru is doing it as well. 1or8 and Bozu in W'burg also do this. It's a "thing" I guess. There seem to be new ads in the Japanese free papers every week advertising that some Japanese restaurant is now doing a ramen.

                                          Have heard good things about Hide-Chan, mixed about Tabata, and generally good about Bossanova (been to their original shop in Tokyo and thought the tonkotsu was good, not great but their chashu was stellar).

                                          Ivan Orkin, who started and operates two successful ramen shops in Tokyo, is set to open his new place on the LES soon. Looking forward to trying that- although the lines and hype machine will be an ordeal I'm sure.

                                          42 Replies
                                          1. re: Silverjay
                                            Bkeats Oct 28, 2013 12:00 PM

                                            I'm glad I'm not the only person who hasn't been blown away by Santouka. I used to get it during our trips to Mitsuwa and I've thought as of late it's pretty blah. Broth has no oomph to it. Been going for the udon lately. But I can't get enough of the Totto Ramen broth though. Its addictive.

                                            Another place in Bklyn is Ganso. Though I think their gyoza and wings are better than the ramen.

                                            1. re: Bkeats
                                              ipsedixit Oct 28, 2013 12:04 PM

                                              I'm not even a big fan of Santouka in LA

                                              1. re: Bkeats
                                                willscarlett Oct 28, 2013 12:38 PM

                                                I was at Totto once and really liked it. Will have to return for sure.

                                                1. re: Bkeats
                                                  Lau Nov 13, 2013 05:07 PM

                                                  silverjay - nice rundown. I haven't been to santouka here in a long time, but the one by me in costa mesa is still very good. Btw rockmeisha had ramen worth trying like 3-4 years ago, but i havent tried it in a long time

                                                  1. re: Lau
                                                    Silverjay Nov 13, 2013 05:23 PM

                                                    I've heard it's ok, not great... I was there one time and some dude ordered a bowl and proceeded to take an hour to eat it as he read a book. I can't imagine how disgustingly soggy the noodles were and how tepid pork soup tastes.

                                                    There was just a tsukemen contest in Japan recently. I wish we could get some of the nicely done gyoukai tsukemen broths that are often featured in Japan these days. I mean, ramen scene is getting better here for sure. Too much tonkotsu though....Here's English link of contest page. Many were obviously done for shock effect, but still quite lovely.. http://dai-tsukemen-haku.com/en .

                                                    1. re: Silverjay
                                                      Lau Nov 13, 2013 05:40 PM

                                                      uhh an hour?? this guy was the guy telling u it was ok? haha i would not listen to that guy

                                                      however it is totally possible its whatever, its been a really long time since ive tried it

                                                      man i love tsukemen, what was that tsukemen place u sent me to in tokyo? holy crap that place was good...i need to do tokyo reviews, maybe ill start this weekend; i have notes from those meals bc i knew it would take me forever to get to them haha

                                                      1. re: Lau
                                                        Silverjay Nov 13, 2013 05:49 PM

                                                        Haha, no we just observed him. My dining partner pointed it out. I'm not sensitive enough to Asian noodle eating habits perhaps. Although the other day I saw a guy at one of the Isan Thai restaurants order pad thai piled on a plate with rice. He was scooping up bites of noodles and rice together. Krazy.

                                                        You ate at Fu'unji (http://www.fu-unji.com/), which is actually the shop I was referencing about smelling like a fish shake elsewhere in the thread.

                                                        Hey, it looks like Yuji has signed some kind of deal with Whole Foods http://ny.eater.com/archives/2013/11/...

                                                        1. re: Silverjay
                                                          Lau Nov 13, 2013 06:40 PM

                                                          haha i mean an hour WTF...i can't even fathom just sitting there by myself for an hour

                                                          Fu'unji: very good man...the salted egg holy crap, next level

                                                          Yuji: yah i saw this, im very happy about that, Yuji and Bassanova are both close to me (Yuji is very close), so its increased good places to eat by me alot

                                                2. re: Silverjay
                                                  willscarlett Oct 28, 2013 12:39 PM

                                                  Who is this Ivan Orkin guy and when/where is he opening?

                                                  1. re: willscarlett
                                                    kathryn Oct 28, 2013 12:48 PM

                                                    Famous ramen guy (a New Yorker) who opened up a shop in Tokyo and is now coming back to NYC. His upcoming shop on the LES will be at 25 Clinton Street.


                                                    1. re: kathryn
                                                      willscarlett Oct 28, 2013 01:31 PM

                                                      Hmm, I think I remember reading about him a while back. He was having tastings at someone else's restaurant?

                                                      1. re: willscarlett
                                                        kathryn Oct 28, 2013 01:39 PM

                                                        Yeah, he's done quite a few pop-ups while they're still building out the restaurant.

                                                        1. re: kathryn
                                                          ipsedixit Oct 28, 2013 02:02 PM

                                                          Wasn't Ivan supposed to open in ... the summer??

                                                          1. re: ipsedixit
                                                            Silverjay Oct 28, 2013 02:27 PM

                                                            This happens all the time in NYC because of various licensing, permits, and other hiccups. I think the media savvy restauranteurs do a good job of stoking the PR flames a bit as well...

                                                            And by the way, speaking of much anticipated ramen openings- http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4757...

                                                            1. re: Silverjay
                                                              ipsedixit Oct 28, 2013 02:29 PM

                                                              Interesting ... but not holding my breath.

                                                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                Lau Nov 13, 2013 05:09 PM

                                                                i just read an interview, its supposed to open soon...he has the lease

                                                      2. re: kathryn
                                                        willscarlett Nov 22, 2013 02:17 PM

                                                        Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop is now open in the Gotham West Market, 600 11th Avenue

                                                      3. re: willscarlett
                                                        villainx Oct 28, 2013 07:40 PM

                                                        I ate at one of his ramen shops*, delicious.

                                                        Almost impossible to replicate here because I believe the noodles won't be in house anymore. Which makes a big difference. But I'm sure it'll be quite good, as he's serious about his ramen.

                                                        * I went to the one that had vegetarian because my wife is a vegetarian.

                                                        1. re: villainx
                                                          Lau Nov 13, 2013 05:09 PM

                                                          honestly i think the noodles are the easiest part to get right, broth the hardest

                                                          1. re: Lau
                                                            Silverjay Nov 13, 2013 05:15 PM

                                                            He's farming the noodles out to Sun Noodle according to what I've read. This isn't such a bad thing. I would guess that maybe 80-90% of ramen shops in Japan do not actually make their own noodles. Anyway, there was a decent feature on a Bizarre Foods New Jersey episode I saw the other day on Sun. Showed their operation and discussed how they custom make noodles for various shops. They also have a ramen lab where they concoct soups. Pretty cool stuff... I'm starting to see little Sun Noodle home ramen kits at the Japanese markets in town.

                                                            1. re: Lau
                                                              villainx Nov 13, 2013 10:50 PM

                                                              Ha, that's why I said Ivan should still still be quite good.

                                                              I feel the noodles make a significant difference. It is easier to get right, so it should be gotten right. And whether in sourcing or in execution, the places that are good get it right. And the places that don't, don't.

                                                              It's hard to say, to a certain extent, noodles, broth, etc., goes hand in hand. The good places have good noodles just as much as they have good broth. The less good places ... the broth isn't as good, but the noodles aren't as good too, right?

                                                              I notice the noodles a little more because it plays a bigger part for my initial impression, and when it's good or bad, it's a signal.

                                                        2. re: Silverjay
                                                          villainx Oct 28, 2013 08:55 PM

                                                          I still think Santouka is quite good, especially if you factor in lower price and less wait time.

                                                          And Bassanova is terrific, not sure if it's Ippudo/Totto good, but add in less wait time and downtown location, it's on par. Or at least I crave the curry ramen.

                                                          1. re: villainx
                                                            Silverjay Oct 28, 2013 09:28 PM

                                                            Well if you drive there from NYC that's gas and tolls, so it can be tough to look on anything Mitsuwa related being lower price. And on weekends the lines at Santouka can be quite substantial. Mitsuwa seems to have caught on in the Korean community there and the whole scene can turn into a muli-generational family zoo sometimes getting food and grabbing a seat.

                                                            1. re: Silverjay
                                                              willscarlett Oct 28, 2013 10:17 PM

                                                              Well, Mitsuwa is in Bergen County, which does have a high Korean population.

                                                              Even where I live, in Morris County, Mitsuwa isn't exactly around the corner. The one time I was there, I went with my girlfriend after she finished her clinicals in Jersey City. The drive is much easier, although there can be some traffic. Around 7:30 on a Tuesday night tho, there was no wait at all.

                                                              1. re: Silverjay
                                                                Bkeats Oct 29, 2013 08:42 AM

                                                                I hadn't thought about it that way as I only go when we are doing a run to Mitsuwa to stock up.

                                                                If I factored in driving time there and back plus tolls and gas, the line to order and then the wandering around trying to find a table to eat at, the wait at Ippudo or Totto on a Friday evening looks really reasonable.

                                                                1. re: Silverjay
                                                                  villainx Nov 3, 2013 11:49 PM

                                                                  Got the shio ramen at Santouka today. I pretty much always get it every time I am at Mitsuwa, but this thread was on my mind while I was digging in.

                                                                  I standby what I say that it's a pretty decent bowl of ramen. Or it's classic good for NY area. Hits all the ramen points, though I think the easiest and hardest is getting the noodles right (flavor and execution).

                                                                2. re: villainx
                                                                  kosmose7 Oct 28, 2013 10:40 PM

                                                                  Yeah I like Santouka too.
                                                                  Although I should say Santouka in Japan or Hong Kong taste slightly better.

                                                                3. re: Silverjay
                                                                  willscarlett Oct 29, 2013 08:49 AM

                                                                  It's an interesting thought whether or not their stock is made in a commissary and then shipped out. When I ate at Santouka, I had their salt broth and asked how salty it was. The girl said that if I wanted, they could make it less salty, but I told them no adjustments were necessary. I'm no expert, but maybe it is made there if they can adjust things like that?

                                                                  Also, regarding Ramen Yebisu, inconsistent does seem to be the word. Yelp ratings are all over the place. 3 stars overall, but they had 2.5 just a few days ago. I generally take what Yelpers and Chowhounders have to say into account.

                                                                  1. re: willscarlett
                                                                    Silverjay Oct 29, 2013 09:16 AM

                                                                    Well the unseasoned stock may be made in a commissary. Again, pure speculation.

                                                                    Yebisu is inconsistent but many of the complaints on Yelp are comparing their ramen to Ippudo's. Yebisu does a lighter, seafood based broth and not the full-on porky collagen blast you get from Ippudo. YMMV based on your expectations.

                                                                  2. re: Silverjay
                                                                    MVNYC Oct 29, 2013 08:49 AM

                                                                    Silverjay--Regarding Momofuku's ramen, I understand the noodles are too soft but the broth itself has a lot of depth to it. I have made that broth myself and it is richly complex with deep chicked, pork, kombu and mushroom flavors. The sous vide egg too is also perfectly cooked. What about that is boring to you? Is it strictly a noodle thing or is it that it's not a Japanese broth?

                                                                    1. re: MVNYC
                                                                      willscarlett Oct 29, 2013 08:55 AM

                                                                      I remember reading somewhere that David Chang said his broth would get him run out of Tokyo. He listed the ingredients in his broth - I can't remember all of them, but ham hock was included. He said his broth was his creation tho.

                                                                      1. re: willscarlett
                                                                        Silverjay Oct 29, 2013 09:20 AM

                                                                        I believe he uses bacon or ham hocks instead of katsuo bushi to impart smokiness.

                                                                      2. re: MVNYC
                                                                        Silverjay Oct 29, 2013 09:19 AM

                                                                        Haha, well maybe you should cook for them!...I mean yeah, the ingredients sound fine but how you put it all together is what is key... My wife didn't like it either and she's less picky than me when it comes to ramen...The chashu we had (Berkshire pork?) was pretty bland as well.

                                                                        1. re: Silverjay
                                                                          MVNYC Oct 29, 2013 10:13 AM

                                                                          Bacon and roasted pork neck bones form the pork component.

                                                                          This is pretty much how it is described in the cookbook


                                                                          I make a lot of stock/broth at home and I really liked this version though its a bit too expensive to make on a regular basis. I have been steeping konbu in my regular bone broth frequently however and I like how it ups the umami content.

                                                                          Anyway, thanks for the explanation.

                                                                          1. re: MVNYC
                                                                            Silverjay Oct 29, 2013 10:37 AM

                                                                            Ugh, bacon...Use konbu, the shiitake, AND katsuo bushi to create an umami bomb. You can also add niboshi, which are dried sardines. They will add oils and fats and even more umami. They may add a slight bitterness, so you can supplement with dried scallops and or shrimp, which impart sweetness. It's this seafood element, on top of richness from soaked chicken and pork bones, that gives the really good Japanese ramen soups their addictive qualities...Damn, maybe I will try to make sometime this winter.

                                                                            1. re: Silverjay
                                                                              MVNYC Oct 29, 2013 10:52 AM

                                                                              There's lots of different broths out there. I use katsuo bushi when I make dashi or for seafood stocks if I don't have fish heads/bones. In the end the momofuku stock was good but honestly a waste of good bacon so I am not going back there.

                                                                              Dried sardines I generally use when making Korean preparations, not generally familiar with what dishes they are used in Japanese cooking. Are they typical in the seafood based ramen broths?

                                                                              I've only been to Yuji once but I liked their broth. I asked the chef and she said they used whatever bones or scraps they could get from Whole foods that day but there were mussels in every day.

                                                                              1. re: MVNYC
                                                                                Silverjay Oct 29, 2013 11:12 AM

                                                                                Kastuo bushi is pretty standard in ramen broths. I think Chang figured that there was a net positive gain by using bacon instead, but that just seems kind of nasty to me when i see a photo of a bunch of raw bacon being loaded into a broth meant to simmer for hours.

                                                                                Niboshi based ramen soups are ALL the rage now in Tokyo. There is one great shop I went to where you (of course) wait in line and as the line snakes toward the back of the shop, where they are preparing the niboshi portion of the broth, it smells like a seaside fish shack. You seriously start to doubt that what you are waiting for is going to be any good. And then of course when it is finally served to you, there is no fishiness and it's just an addictive umami soupy gravy.

                                                                                1. re: Silverjay
                                                                                  villainx Oct 29, 2013 11:17 AM

                                                                                  Is it all seafood base? My wife is vegetarian, but she can be convinced to try seafood broth provided no meat. I'm constantly looking for things because it'll taste better for her and for me (which was what led me to Ivan Plus). Mostly me. ;)

                                                                                  1. re: villainx
                                                                                    Silverjay Oct 29, 2013 11:24 AM

                                                                                    No. It is chicken soup with chunks of porky chashu...But there are seafood (no meat ) ramen places around Tokyo.

                                                                                    1. re: Silverjay
                                                                                      MVNYC Oct 29, 2013 11:35 AM

                                                                                      That Niboshi sounds right up my alley. Anyone in NYC make a decent one?

                                                                                      1. re: MVNYC
                                                                                        Silverjay Oct 29, 2013 11:48 AM

                                                                                        They probably play a part in Santouka, Ippudo, Totto, and Hide ramen. But none of the places are doing the assertive blended or niboshi broths that are popular over in Japan.

                                                                                        1. re: MVNYC
                                                                                          willscarlett Oct 29, 2013 12:13 PM

                                                                                          Doesn't Ramen Yebisu make the seafood broth that you're looking for?

                                                                      3. p
                                                                        peter j Nov 13, 2013 11:56 AM

                                                                        What do you think of Menkui Tei? Is it worth trying?

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: peter j
                                                                          Hey19 Nov 13, 2013 12:13 PM

                                                                          Menkui Tei is a frequent friday treat for me, and its great. Possibly my favorite in town. They have curry ramen, and its great, someday I will try their standard, but its hard to pass up the curry for me...

                                                                          1. re: Hey19
                                                                            peter j Nov 14, 2013 11:31 AM

                                                                            Nice friendly place. Last night I dropped in at Menkui Tei and enjoyed the gyoza and the curry ramen. Thanks for the recommendation.

                                                                          2. re: peter j
                                                                            plf515 Nov 14, 2013 07:23 AM

                                                                            I used to eat there frequently and it was good but it is not near my work or home so it's been a while.

                                                                          3. l
                                                                            Lau Nov 13, 2013 04:52 PM

                                                                            bassanova: very good better than ippudo although not sure its better than santouka

                                                                            yuji ramen: this is my fav right now along with bassanova (shoyu ramen)

                                                                            Misoya: interesting for Hokkaido style ramen https://www.lauhound.com/2011/10/miso...

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Lau
                                                                              villainx Nov 13, 2013 11:33 PM

                                                                              Any particular ramen you like at bassanova? I've been getting the green curry. Pretty great.

                                                                              1. re: villainx
                                                                                Lau Nov 13, 2013 11:44 PM

                                                                                i like the original regular tondaku ramen the best, but they are all good

                                                                                i also dont understand the compliants about the tondaku wadashijiru being too fishy maybe they changed the recipe or something but its not really fishy at all

                                                                            2. Ziggy41 Nov 14, 2013 09:25 AM

                                                                              Not sure if it was mentioned but Totto just opened another location. 51st and 10th across from the falafel nazi (Azuri). Much larger space and only dinners for now

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: Ziggy41
                                                                                villainx Nov 14, 2013 11:33 AM

                                                                                Whaaa? Why? It's so close to their original location (right?)

                                                                                My surprise is only that I wish they open a place downtown instead. =(

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