Totto Ramen – 06.18.2011

Totto Ramen
366 West 52nd St.

The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and somewhere a cauldron of pork broth was whistling.  I awoke that morning with a feeling that it was going to be a good day.  Little did I know I would experience a life changing food moment.

Seared tuna with soy ginger bonito wasabi dressing.

Totto Ramen follows the typical NYC ramen restaurant format: few tables, bar seating, and open kitchen.  This dimly lit below street level ramenya looks unremarkable with its chalk board specials and hand written menu highlights adorning the walls.  But, if a restaurant is selling hot soup on a hot June afternoon and has a wait, I suggest you get in line.

Miso ramen.  Me so hungry.

Totto may have the best ramen in New York City.  Lofty words I know.  The miso ramen is on par with my current favorite, Minca, and depending on my mood, it may indeed be #1.  The menu describes it:

The finest Koji Miso and ground pork in a scoop atop slightly wavy noodles in original Paitan soup.  Topped with a seasoned hardboiled egg, scallion, bean sprouts, onion and char sui pork.

Wavy noodles are where it’s at.

Totto nailed all three  aspects of the ramen trinity:  soup, noodle, and topping.   While Minca has a knock your socks off don’t bring home to mama kind of miso broth, Totto has a respectable and multi-layered flavor that your parents would well approve of.  The ramen is so good you may think of how you can propose to it.  (Though it will never work out because of the cultural differences).  How could you resist the wavy noodles; cooked to chewy perfection and abundantly swirling the bowl with every scoop.  They hypnotize you with their undulations above and below the rich, and flavorful broth.  Finally, the toppings.  Straightforward blend of sprouts and green onion supporting the star of the show:  the roast pork.  You get 2 richly cut portions of roasted pork, feathered with slight char and containing the stratified layers of flesh, fat, and cartilage.  Pork perfection.  I can’t describe it any other way and undoubtedly the best char sui I’ve ever eaten.  Kuboya comes close in flavor but lacks in portion size.  With Totto and Minca straddling both sides of the island, always being within walking distance of a great ramen bar is one step closer to NY reality.

Char sui is Japanese for “I’ve died and gone to pork heaven”

The #1 miso ramen in NYC!  or  The #1 miso ramen in NYC?
This is what a ramen restaurant should look and feel like.  (cough) Ahem. Ippudo.
Fast friendly staff.

If I had to be critical, the hardboiled egg.  Not horrible, but I am a fan of gelled creamy yolk.

Small place so the wait gets loco after 5pm.

-bru, Chief Ramen Officer

Eatclub left with round bellies wanting to maintain the food buzz.  When you want to go on an all-out eating bender, a Saturday afternoon in the city is like no other.

Wafels & Dinges
Riverside Park

Waffle, speculoos, and ice cream = an innocent looking but powerful dessert.

Face to the water, back to the highway

Pier 1 Cafe
West 70th St. and Hudson River

Go there for the great Hudson views and plentiful patio seating.  Stay a while with friends and enjoy the great brew selection (Coney Island Lager) and mango pina coladas.  Skip the burger but try the other dishes of their surprisingly refined fare.

A light liquid lunch

26 St. Mark’s Place

Bubble milk tea and basil popcorn chicken.  Yes, those are real authentic foods from the same culture (Taiwan).

25 St. Mark’s Place

A St. Mark’s must visit for Japanese tapas/drinking bar.  Raucous with equally audacious choice of decor, they serve inexpensive Japanese drafts and some crazy menu items.  Good times are always had here.

111 Macdougal St.
(3rd and Bleeker)

Artichoke slice needs a hearty Coke

The pizza surprise in the village. $4.50 gets you a monstrous artichoke slice that will stop you in your tracks and make your pupils dilate.  Very good.

119 Macdougal St.

Freshest and tastiest.  Fuggediboutit.

Best falafel in the city.  That evening, it was also the HOTTEST.


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