NYC's 10 Best Bowls of Ramen

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Austere in its whiteness: #1 on Chuko's menu, "pork, scallion, egg, mustard green," also known as Limited Order Ramen, due to the limited quantities available every evening.


It was a chilly afternoon with a stiff west wind as I stood in front of Ippudo earlier this week. Where were the crowds I'd encountered on every previous occasion? Maybe it was the cold weather and threatening rain that had driven them away, or maybe, in the aftermath of New Year's, not so many people were ready to blow $25 or $30 on lunch. Either way, I was able to walk right in, sit down, and enjoy a stupendous bowl of noodles, with a broth the likes of which I probably won't see again in my lifetime.

Within a half-mile of Ippudo, you can count nine places either entirely dedicated to ramen or serving ramen as a major portion of their menus. How did this humble noodle, which migrated from China to Japan before coming here, become so huge? And is it finally declining in popularity after a three-year run as the city's favorite starch. (OK, maybe pizza is still bigger.)

Here, without further ado, are our ranked nominations for the best bowls of ramen in the city. Please feel free to disagree.


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10. Limited Order Ramen at Chuko -- Started by two former Morimoto veterans, this ramen parlor has sent the venerable noodle twirling in a decidedly hipster direction. The broth is ghostly white and frothy and the pork tastes like bacon, and the entire roster of ingredients is austere in the extreme. This bowl scores high points for novelty and purity. 552 Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-576-6701


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9. Mayu Ramen at Terakawa Ramen -- This is the darkest and stormiest bowl of ramen in the city, the pork broth laced with garlic cooked almost to a cinder, a plethora of other ingredients, like wood-ear mushrooms and bamboo shoots, crowding the bloated ramen. You won't go away hungry from this unusual bowl. 18 Lexington Avenue, 212-777-2939; 885 Ninth Avenue, 212-307-0170


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8. Momofuku Ramen at Momofuku Noodle Bar -- This bowl lays claim to being one of the inspirations behind the current ramen boom. That said, the soup shows the touch of an ambitious chef, featuring two kinds of pork (roast belly and shredded shoulder), flowers of fishcake, whole sheets of nori as if stolen from the sushi bar down the street, and a science-cheffy egg. The bowl flaunts its noodles prominently, while other places hide them beneath the surface. 171 First Avenue, 212-777-7773


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7. Chashu Ramen at Rockmeisha -- This Japanese gastropub hidden in plain sight off Sheridan Square cultivates a 1950s wrestling theme, and you're likely to see Gorgeous George tangling with a Japanese wrestler on the monitors. More important, only one ramen is offered, with no fussy options -- this is pub grub at its Japanese best, based in a murky pig-foot broth that tastes like it's been boiled for three years. Plenty of pork, too. 11 Barrow Street, 212-675-7775


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Momofuku Noodle Bar was at least partly responsible for the current ramen craze.

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28 comments
wef3fe
wef3fe

I agree Toto is the best.

Az
Az

Minca Pork and soup is amazing so is the pork belly.  Just there last night.

guest
guest

so glad you didn't put Ippudo on this...it's completely overrated and overpriced 

Thomas Zed
Thomas Zed

Japanese people sometimes describe garlic eaters in a pejorative & racist way...They don't have garlic in Japan. So they use it as a way of hating on Chinese. Not that it matters to the goggles of skinny jeans happily slurping away.

Elkukyto
Elkukyto

asheville ,,is gonna have a ramen noodle truck

Vidyoh
Vidyoh

Santouka Ramen in the Matsua grocery in Edgwater has them all beat

NikoWozz
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Justin
Justin

Um, oops... forgot to add "the best" in there. 

Justin
Justin

I think Tabata's Tan Tan Men is their spicy pork goodness!

downtownfoodie
downtownfoodie

Totto Ramen got a C rating from the health department. NO THANK YOU.

You should try the Ramen at the newly opened TALDE. Would definitely be on this list.

Pcoleman
Pcoleman

Hey RS,Longtimenoblog. Thanks 4 the list. I've got a lot of slurping to do. In your opinion, how does Setagaya St Marks stack up against Setagaya 1st Avenue from when that place first opened in NYC? That shio bowl is, thus far, my personal best in the city. they opened a short-lived branch in Flushing that was an embarrassment. The wife and I have been wanting 2 try the one on 14th

Vtwelve
Vtwelve

I live around the corner from Toto Ramen and can say that I will never visit that place. I have to move into the street to walk past it because there's always a huge group of people waiting outside. It's like they're waiting on Steve Rubell to come out and invite them in to the VIP room. Wait in line for noodles? Give me a fucking breatk

Nsujf
Nsujf

When I went to Chuko the noodles were significantly overcooked. If you go for lunch the only broth available is chicken, and it tastes like grandma's chicken soup.

Joethree
Joethree

What about some love for Rai Rai Ken? 

ian curry
ian curry

I really couldn't have been happier when Tabata went in around the corner from where I work. It's a solid bowl. Their spice Sutamina ramen and the Miso are also outstanding. 

RICK SHAW
RICK SHAW

Minca is really dope pork...some of the best I've had in town.

JK
JK

Last time I asked you for good ramen, you told me Totto was second best (but close to home). Glad it's made its way up the list!

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gar
gar

Menkui Tei and I know Hide has slipped up recently, but maybe a honorary mention? Also, for vegetarian, got to mention Souen (even though the noodles are often less al dente than preferred). 

Steven Chapman
Steven Chapman

yay Tabata!  surprisingly good and pretty cheap compared to the others.  can't imagine they get that much business from their neighbors though, haha.

Thomas is a Dope
Thomas is a Dope

You're wrong. What a dope. Stop posting your opinions. 

HSStudios
HSStudios

A friend of mine used to call Rai Rai Ken "sweatsock ramen," because that's what the broth always tasted like to us.  I go every few years to give it a chance, always disappoints me.  Dumplings are okay, but greasy.  Chahan is decent also.  My faves are Totto, Ippudo, Minca.  I still have a soft spot for Sapporo in midtown, but prefer non-ramen dishes there lately.

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