No longer a cheap staple for college kids, ramen has undergone a culinary renaissance as of late. Noodle shops are popping up all over and earning rave reviews for their innovative and flavorful offerings of the Japanese comfort meal. Now is the best time to get in on this foodie trend – whether it’s a rich tonkotsu, tangy shoyu, or salty miso you crave, there’s a noodle and broth combo for you. Here are six restaurants to find the best ramen in NYC.
Mu Ramen, 1209 Jackson Ave, Long Island City
Relatively new to the city’s noodle scene, Mu Ramen started as a humble pop-up operating out of a bagel shop. As word spread, Chef and owners Joshua and Heidy Smookler set their sights on a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Long Island City and opened in 2015. Folks gladly wait in line (over an hour at times) for a bowl of the richest tonkotsu in town. The namesake meal gets the most buzz with its creative fusion of an oxtail and bone marrow-based soup, brisket, and half-sour pickles. The spicy miso ramen is equally tasty.
Ivan Ramen, 25 Clinton St
After establishing himself in Tokyo as a premier ramen chef, Long Island native Ivan Orkin returned home and opened Ivan Ramen. Guests flock to this Lower East Side post to eat from an interpretive menu created by the world-famous noodle master. For the best experience, pony up to a stool at the bar where you can peek into the kitchen and see where the magic happens. Try the high-flavor Triple Pork Triple Garlic Mazemen and the Spicy Red Chili Ramen.
Nakamura, 172 Delancey St
Run by Japanese ramen master Shigetoshi “Jack” Nakamura, this tiny slurp shop (seats 20) boasts a solid menu serving up the main ramen options. Specializing in Shoyu, the chef combines his classic Japanese culinary roots with exciting new flavors. Only five ramen items are available, and everything is delicious. We suggest the Yuzu Dashi with chicken and gyoki broth, chashu (pork belly), menma, spinach, and yuzu, or XO Miso Vegetarian with Momofuku XO sauce, bean sprouts, and Chinese chives.
Momofuku Noodle Bar, 171 1st Ave
We can thank chef David Chang for the ramen craze. A decade has passed since he opened up Momofuku Noodle Bar and the restaurant continues to hit high marks when it comes to ramen fare. The spot has quite a following and doesn’t take reservations, so be prepared to wait. Patience pays off once your steaming bowl of Momofuku Ramen with pork belly, pork shoulder, and poached egg is served. Finish your meal with a decadent dessert by Milk Bar.
Totto Ramen, 464 W 51st St
Located below street level, Totto Ramen is a straightforward noodle joint. The setting may be sparse, but that’s because all the work here is focused on making the best paitan (a rich creamy chicken broth) in the city. Space is limited with seats lined along a counter overlooking the kitchen where you see the chefs in action. Try the Miso Paitan with Totto’s original wavy noodles topped with Koji Miso, half boiled egg, and choice of chicken or pork.
Ichiran, 374 Johnson Ave, Brooklyn
If there is one type of meal meant to be eaten alone, it’s ramen (so much slurping). When Japanese ramen chain Ichiran opened a Bushwick outpost, it brought over a “system” that lets you order without having to talk to anyone. After sitting down to an individual “flavor concentration booth” similar to a library cubicle, you fill out an order form and press a button. A server, you never see their face, lifts up a bamboo shade in front of you, takes the order slip, and returns with your meal. The menu specializes in classic tonkotsu ramen, but you can modify flavorings to taste. And for those who can’t bring themselves to dine alone, group seating is available.
Want to make ramen at home? Try Simply Ramen: A Complete Course in Preparing Ramen Meals at Home.
What spots do you recommend for the best ramen in NYC?