My friend, Tami Wasserman wrote this for for me. She is my main source on dinning and food in NY. If like Japanese like soup and noodles, then please read this. You can't go wrong. And if you have any suggestions then please let us know. Thanks! -- Rafael
It's hard not to notice that New York is currently in a serious ramen renaissance. It seems like there's a new place opening every day. If you consider yourself a serious "noodie" (or connoisseur of noodles), as I do then read on. I have made it my personal mission to try every reputable noodle joint in town in order to give the scoop, or more accurately, the slurp. There's a spate of traditional Japanese ramen-yas that are worth visiting, and possibly even waiting in line for. I would include on this list: Ramen Setagaya (141 1st Avenue between 8th-9th St), which is a chain from Japan and has only a few items on the menu to choose from. I recommend the Shio Ramen (ramen in the house special broth with grilled pork slices) or Cha Shyu Men (same thing, extra pork). This is a small place with only counters and stools, so it's no place for a leisurely meal – just slurp it down with a beer and go. Also worth trying is Ippudo (65 4th Avenue between 9th-10th St). This is a more upscale ramen-ya, also direct from Japan, and their menu is a little more diverse. Try the noodle salad with grapefruit dressing, saikyo style pork (Berkshire pork grilled in miso sauce) or the chicken karage (Japanese fried chicken). There's also a selection of interesting ramens, which feature different broths and different amounts of pork. My favorites are the Akamaru ramen, and the Shoyu Ramen, both laden with pork (sorry vegetarians). For a change of pace I like the Tsuke Men, which is cold ramen noodles served separately from the broth and fixings. You dip the noodles into the broth one mouthful at a time, which allows you to savor the contrast of the cold chewy noodles and the steaming salty pork broth. For more traditional Japanese ramen head toRai-Rai Ken (214 East 10th between 1st and 2nd Ave) which is a teeny tiny sliver of a ramen-ya with just a counter that seats about 8 people. Here you will find only the 3 most common types of ramen – Shio, Shoyu and Miso – all are cheap and delicious.- For a more catholic menu tryMenkui-tei (65 Cooper Square, between 7th St-St Marks) which features a more robust variety of soups including Spicy Miso Ramen (actually not very spicy but very tasty), Tan tan Men (Soy Sauce Flavored Noodle Soup Topped w/ Spicy Ground Pork – actually spicy) and Hiyashi Chuka (Cold Noodle w/ Soy Sauce & Vinegar Sauce). The gyoza (pork dumplings) are a must, but there's also a hugemenu of little dishes to choose from. Try the Daikon salad, Mabo Tofu (Sautéed Spicy Ground Pork & Tofu) or the Onigiri (rice balls made with different ingredients). I hope your next bowl of ramen will be good to the last slurp!