NYC Summer 2014 : Totto Ramen

My friend krowr had texted me on her first trip to Totto and proclaimed this her new favorite ramen spot in NYC (supplanting her other favorite which she had gotten me hooked on - Ramen Setagaya). So I dropped by their 52nd Street location (there’s an newer place on 51st to alleviate the congestion at the original 52nd Street location) when I had the chance and lucky for me, I slipped right in at the counter without having to wait.

Totto is known or its paitan or milky chicken broth, and in particular it’s spicy ramen with a house made chili. But first, I ordered their pork bao, which was slathered with a nice amount of Japanese mayonnaise. The pork was delicious but I could have done with less mayo - more my personal preference than anything else, really. In terms of ramen, I ended up ordering their special - spicy “nibo” ramen. I was really impressed with the depth of flavor of the chili - it was floral, and smokey and then spicy. The broth was medium bodied, with a creamy mouth feel, although it was really hard to taste the chicken flavor through all the chilies. Maybe it was the heat, but I would have been happier with a simpler broth. The noodles were very firm and not especially chewy. Maybe I was spoiled from my tsukemen in LA and Tokyo, but I was longing for a little more chew. Although this bowl didn’t quite do it for me, I’m looking forward to returning when the weather is a little cooler and trying the plain paitan broth.

wawawa so i was in Manhattan today and my family and I ate at Totto Ramen

it’s like this tiny hole in the wall but the average wait is 2 hours because it’s known for having A+ authentic ramen

Although the wait was long once you get inside service is really fast and efficient and we got to sit at the bar, so we could watch them make the food too! I got a Paitan Ramen with a seasoned boiled egg uwu

it was pretty gr8 but I’m satisfied with having gone there once ahaha

hope you guys are doing well! I’m on spring break at last. probably going to return to providence tomorrow

Totto Ramen

Totto Ramen is definitely one of the most sought after ramen joints in New York City right now. We found out that the restaurant opens at 5:00pm on Sundays for dinner, so we arrived at around 5:10pm to try and beat the much heard about rush. Not only was the entire place full, but the line was already out the door and down the sidewalk. That’s usually a sign that a place is going to be really, really good.

The restaurant has no more then 20 seats, but the line moves fairly quickly, and we managed to get seated at the bar within 45 minutes. Sitting at the bar actually turned out to be a plus, because the chefs are really friendly and  exude quite a bit of showmanship and flair while preparing bowls of steaming hot ramen and other Japanese small plates.

To start with we got the Char Siu Mayo Don, which consists of the house special broiled pork with yuzu mayonnaise on a bed of rice. Who would have thought a bowl of mayo, pork and rice would be so delicious? I’d like to think it’s something so simple that I can make it at home, but it’s probably not. We also got the Avo Tuna dish, which consisted of tuna sashimi with avocado marinated in their special yuzu garlic sauce. The tuna was delicious and fresh, with perfectly clean flavors. So far, a great start to them meal!

As for the ramen, we were able to share a bowl between the two of us since we got appetizers beforehand. A coworker recently sent me this list of the spiciest dishes in the city according to Time Out New York. The phaal curry, which I ate here, was of course on there, and so was the Totto Extreme Spicy Ramen. We added a seasoned boiled egg for an extra $1, and I truly believe that extra addition really helped round out the dish! The chilli oil concoction came on the side in a little bowl, thus you could add as much or little as you wanted. I put it all in! While it was spicy, it was comfortably spicy and definitely no comparison to the phaal at Brick Lane Curry House. What was clearly the most special part about this bowl of ramen, was the broth. It had an immense amount of depth to it - intensely meaty and flavorful. It was so good that we spooned in the rest of the rice from the Char Siu Mayo Don to soak up and enjoy the remaining broth at the end of the meal.

Totto Ramen
366 West 52nd Street
New York, NY 10019
(212) 582-0052
Price: $$


Food. So much food. 

Since I’ve gotten to New York, I have made it a mission to run at least 3-5 miles every day (minus the days where I’m too hungover to function), not because I want to lose weight (I’ve thrown that possibility out the window the second I started thinking about moving here), but because I want to maximize my food intake and still somehow keep my weight remotely under control. Basically, I want to be able to eat all the food that NYC has to offer and then some, without turning into something that can only be described as a walking talking gelatinous mass.

Totto Ramen. Better than Ippudo? Maybe. Does it really matter? I don’t think it should. I find myself doing this all the time, attempting to rate the legitimacy of a restaurant by comparing it to another. I guess this is usually the case with most things, not just food. Our way of making sense of things I suppose. I think I’m going to try to use comparison less. Maybe this will allow me to approach experiences in a way that will result in new ways of thinking about things. We shall see.  

T and I waited for about an hour before we got seated. The place is small. One row of about 10 seats at the bar and about five small tables in the back? My memory of the place isn’t really of the interior set-up, so I could be way off. I ordered the Mega Ramen. The description said that this ramen is best for pork lovers, so naturally, since I do very much love pork, I ordered it. Totto Ramen, your description was on point. With three different cuts of pork all perfectly prepared, Mega Ramen, I am forever yours. Also, if quantity is just as important as quality for you (absolutely no shame in that), let me just say that I willingly walked from Hell’s Kitchen back to my apartment in the East Village (roughly an hour long walk), hoping that I could regain my ability to breathe normally by the end of the day. I found Totto to be EXTREMELY generous with their meat and noodles (for Mega Ramen, at least), making every one of the $15 I spent, worth it. 

Given the amount of eating that I do everyday, I am a little worried that this blog might turn into a food blog, which was not my intention when I first created it. With that said, I do feel that food is a hugely significant part of a city’s culture, so hopefully I will be able to write well-balanced, thoughtful entries as I continue my wanderings throughout the city. 


Ramen is a soul food for me. 
This China originated dish that evolved completely differently in Japan is loved not just in Japan but also all over the world. 
Ramen is a tasty chemistry of flavors in a bowl.

Picture taken at Totto Ramen in NYC

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