Ramen Spree in NYC

IMG_5215
We love to make the most of our weekends alone together. This weekend, we decided to hop on a train to New York City and satisfy our ramen craving. Ramen is scarce in these parts. I’ve said on so many occasions (probably while I was shivering in these freezing temps) that we need a ramen shop in West Chester.
We were inspired by this story, where a couple went on a 3-day spree, eating 10 bowls of ramen. Ten! After 2 days and 3 bowls of our own, we have a heightened appreciation for Lisa and David. From Saturday afternoon to Sunday morning, we would set out to eat ramen.
Stop #1: Momofuku
 
Knowing part of David Chang’s story and the buzz around this little shop, we knew Momofuku would be our first stop. We arrived at 11:40am on a Saturday, expecting to see the line down the block. We were the second party, surprisingly, but I still swear it was a fluke because the line quickly formed behind us. Doors opened at 12:00. We were seated, and every seat was immediately occupied, still with a line out the door. The staff was bustling, serious, and a well-oiled machine. Impressive to witness.

 

At 12:06. Packed.

We ordered the pork buns and the brisket bun. This might have been a mistake, since our mission was ramen, but we had to try these reputed buns.  Here is the bun master – only tasked with cranking out these lovelies with precision – one after the other.

The making of the buns.
Brisket buns were our favorite, over the pork.
And this guy was dishing out the kimchee and other sides.

 

Our ramen is here! Pork ramen. And yes, it was executed perfectly…from the soft-poached egg, to the pork 2 ways, to the fish cake, to the springy/chewy homemade alkaline noodles. I was in a bit of a ramen haze while I was eating this, only recalling the beginning and the end. The very sad end to our time at Momofuku. You don’t dilly-dally and chit-chat at a ramen shop. You eat, you leave. Hungry people are waiting, and your seat is getting a tad too warm. But before we parted, we were sure to scoop up a cookbook and a tote. The book was signed by Chang – happy surprise.

 

 

Stop #2: Totto Ramen

If we had to choose a favorite, it would be Totto. We had to endure much more of a line (only because of the time of day). And with the bitter cold, it was nice to have a heated, enclosed vestibule to wait. The energetic hostess kept us smiling as we placed our orders during the wait. A clever system they have in place:

  1. Put your name on the clipboard. *Important* Just because people are waiting outside, don’t mistake this for the line. The “line” is the list on the clipboard that hangs on the front door. Open the vestibule door, grab that list, and get your name on it. Now you’re in line. Also, don’t miss your name being called. Your name will be crossed off, and the next party will be called.
  2. Take a menu. The hostess will take your order when she’s ready.
  3. Your name is called. You’re seated.
  4. Ramen is served!

We loved the vibe here. The loud music, the smiles, the genuine “I love what I do” attitude from the staff. Another well-oiled machine, but we weren’t left feeling like a number.

And the ramen! I enjoyed Totto Miso Ramen. Mild, savory, buttery. The koji miso and ground pork in a scoop on top would be mixed in for a deeper, richer broth.


He happily slurped the Totto Spicy Ramen. He likes it spicy. And this was just spicy enough, assuming the extra spicy version may have been over the edge.

 

And here they are, all mixed up and showing their gorgeous noodleness…

 

Stop #3: Tabata Ramen
 
And now for something completely different. We were so full from an impromptu breakfast-turned-shenanigans with the fun fellows at Empanada Mama. We couldn’t possibly order 2 more bowls of ramen, so we split one – despite the odd looks we received for sharing. Onward!
No wait here at Tabata Ramen, but locals seem to love it for a good warm-up. We ordered the Tabata Ramen, which was described as soybean powder and coconut milk-based broth, topped with chicken stew, cilantro, and red onion. Sweet, creamy, and mild with nice, chewy noodles. And we were plenty full, even after sharing the bowl.

 

Steamy

In total, we had 3 variations of ramen in 3 enjoyably different places, yet left with the experience defined as much by what we didn’t sample, as that which we did.  Can’t wait to go back for more and continue to build our noodle-fluency.  Love in the city, putting the Amen in Ramen.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s