RAMEN 101 IN NYC
Winter in New York is excruciatingly freezing and since a hot bowl of ramen is comforting, the noodle broth is pretty popular in NYC. If you’re an out-of-towner and planning a trip to the city during winter, you should definitely save this page in your bookmarks.
Before we let you in on our favourite spots, we thought we should give you a little introduction to Ramen – as you can’t just walk into a restaurant and order “one ramen”. Here’s a survival menu that will help you appear in the know.
Ramen is basically a threesome between soup, noodles and toppings.
The soup is – literally – what brings the whole thing together but also what categorizes different types of ramen (although variations that combine the different bases are not uncommon). The main types of soups are:
Shoyu (醤油, Soy Sauce)
Shoyu ramen soup is a clear, brown broth flavoured with soy sauce and usually made of chicken broth but often also contains other meats such as pork, beef or fish. If your menu doesn’t specify the base, it usually means it’s shoyu – as it is the most popular one.
Shio (塩, Salt)
Shio ramen soup is a light, clear broth seasoned with salt. It is typically made from chicken broth, but it may also be flavoured with other meats such as pork.
Miso (味噌, Soybean Paste)
Miso ramen soup is flavoured with soybean paste (miso), resulting in a thick, brown soup with a rich, complex flavour. This one makes the perfect hearty type of ramen for long cold winters.
Tonkotsu (豚骨, Pork Bone)
Tonkotsu ramen is made of pork bones, which have been boiled down until they dissolve into a cloudy white broth. The thick, creamy soup is also often flavoured with chicken broth and pork fat – and is another big favourite among New Yorkers.
Made out of wheat, they can be served in different forms, from thin and thick, to straight and wavy.
Chashu: fatty slices of roasted or braised pork. A very common topping that usually comes as a pair.
Menma: preserved bamboo shoots with a salty flavour.
Negi: chopped or shredded leeks or green onions. Karanegi is a spicy variation of shredded leeks mixed with chili oil, often seen with miso ramen.
Nori: seaweed added to all types of ramen.
Moyashi: raw or cooked bean sprouts, which add sweetness and crunch to the mix. Served on all types of ramen.
Tamago: hard-boiled, soft boiled, raw and marinated eggs. These are popular toppings on any type of ramen.
OUR GUIDE TO NYC’S BEST RAMEN
New York City is filled with Ramen-Ya (ramen restaurants) and here are the most delicious ones we’ve tried so far:
Want to share your favourite spots? Please leave a comment below or tweet your thoughts!
366 W 52nd St
464 W 51st St
New York, NY 10019
If their minuscule spaces leave you no other choice but to queue, their very concise menu makes the wait worthwhile. Generally packed with Asian kids, Totto has all of the usual suspects ($10-15) but with interesting toppings like seasoned avocado.
600 11th Ave
New York, NY 10036
25 Clinton St
New York, NY 10002
Once upon a time a Jewish kid from Long Island dreamt of cooking in Japan. Since then, Ivan Orkin has opened two ramen shops in Tokyo and two in NYC.
While the roasted tomatoes he adds in his broths are a nice (and tasty) touch, the small portions are a bit of a downer (between $15-16). #FeedTheOrgers
181 West 4th Street,
New York, NY 10014
Pick your shoyu, shio or miso base and then mix it with the pork or chicken soup. We went for the miso chicken ramen, which was delicious, super rich and extremely comforting ($12-13).
65 4th Ave,
New York, NY 10003
321 W 51st,
New York, NY 10019
This spot seems to be the most popular one and alas the most expensive one too ($14-17). Their ramen menu suggests diners add extra toppings to their broths (which is a cheeky way of getting an extra couple of $$). Aside from that, their ramen are truly delicious. We strongly recommend that you order the Pork Hirata Buns ($9) to start your meal.
245 W 51st St,
New York, NY 10019
Even if Ippudo is a must –to avoid a never-ending queue– we recommend you head to Nippori, which is located a block away. The broths here are delicious (especially their Tan Tan Men or Tonkotsu $13), and the daily happy hour is pretty awesome too (5-8pm, half off wine and beer).
Our next stops/watch out for:
32 Varet St,
Brooklyn, NY 11206
After slurping on their delicious Udon soup and good wine at a reasonable price at the romantic Samurai Mama in Brooklyn, we will definitely be trying their new ramen restaurant called Samurai Papa. #HappyFamily
248 E 52nd St,
New York, NY 10022
This spot specialises in Tonkotsu, which is our favourite, and also happens to mean “very excellent pork bone fat water” in Japanese; now that sounds tempting.
New York, NY 10027
Jin is well known by Harlem residents so it must be worth a visit. Apparently their pork buns are crispier and less fatty than usual.
552 Vanderbilt Ave,
Brooklyn, NY 11238
Chuko, which means “vintage” in Japanese, is a good Brooklyn stop for innovative ramen. Bar chuko, which is located just across the street from the original Chuko Ramen, is an izakaya— traditionally denoting a Japanese after-work eating and drinking establishment. Now that’s exciting.