In recent years, New York City has become a ramen town. This means you can get big bowls of this Japanese noodle soup in many neighborhoods, from the East Village to Harlem. Here are our five picks for the best ramen in Midtown. By Jessica Allen.
Starting around 6 pm, the line to get into Hide-Chan Ramen snakes down the stairs and out onto 52nd. The solution? Arrive before 6. The vegetable ramen comes overloaded with seasonal goodies, such as avocado, corn, lettuces, and bean sprouts, while the hakata spicy comes doused with chili oil, which cuts through the tender shreds of pork. Best of all, Hide-Chan lets you determine the doneness of your noodles: very firm, firm, medium, or soft.
One of the best-known, and best-loved, ramen restaurants in all of Manhattan, the original Ippudo boasts long lines no matter what time you go. The new location on 51st is almost as popular. It features just a few types of ramen, including the shiromaru hakata classic, with freshly made tonkotsu (pork broth), featuring house-special dashi, along with pork loin chashu, scallions, mushrooms, menma (fermented bamboo shoots), and thin noodles.
Menkui Tei makes the cut for its sheer variety. This restaurant offers close to 20 different types of ramen, from wonton ramen (shoyu ramen topped with eight boiled pork dumplings) to jar-jar ramen (cold noodles, minus the broth, in a spicy sauce made from ground pork and soybeans, mixed with cucumbers, scallions, and pickled ginger) to Menkui ramen (into the house special seaweed broth goes bamboo shoots, roast pork, and scallions).
At this Hell’s Kitchen noodle shop, the ramen is made in an open-air kitchen, so you can watch the chefs stir, sauté, and season. The resulting ramen relies on chicken bone-based broth, offering a lighter take on tradition. Our favorite is the ebi (shrimp) ramen. It’s perfect for ramen lovers who aren’t also pork lovers. Firm shrimp, carrots, snow peas, mushrooms, and scallions float in a salty, garlicky sea, the thick broth thinning as the noodles absorb its flavor.
Like Ippudo and Hide-Chan, people line up for Totto Ramen. Unlike those other restaurants, people begin lining up here at 11 am. Once inside, you’re given a few minutes to look at the menu (we like the Totto miso ramen, with ground pork, a hardboiled egg, and char siu pork atop paitan soup), then you wait a few minutes, then you’re expected to slurp without stopping until your bowl is empty. The experience is kind of intense, and often considered to be the most authentic ramen in the city.