Ramen has become so popular in the city that practically every neighborhood in town boasts its very own ramen-ya. But for a truly transcendental experience, you’ll need to visit a destination ramen spot — places, like those listed below, that turn a humble bowl of broth and noodles into something worth dreaming about. By Jessica Allen.
Jun-Men Ramen Bar
249 Ninth Avenue
New York, NY 10001
After a refreshing walk along the High Line, head to this Chelsea spot to fortify your spirit for your next adventure. Well-known for blending Eastern and Western techniques, Jun-Men offers various forms of ramen, including spicy pork bone, uni mushroom with roasted pancetta and parmesan cheese, and kimchi with pork shoulder and egg. Start with fried kale and feta, a chicken bun with jalapeno mayo, or the fried rice topped with micro basil and a fried egg.
1209 Jackson Avenue
Queens, NY 11101
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Every restaurant on this list serves excellent ramen, but no place has as interesting a backstory as Mu Ramen, in Queens. Mu Ramen began life as a pop-up in a bagel store, of all places. Now, in its very own standalone space, their ramen continues to impress. Owned and operated by Heidy and Joshua Smookler, Mu Ramen also offers creative appetizers like chicken wings stuffed with brioche and foie gras, charred edamame, and sautéed clams.
172 Delancey Street
New York, NY 10002
Goodness, the food here is good-looking, assuming you love ramen as much as we do. And it’s yummy too—the noodles perfectly al dente, broth tangy and steaming hot, veggies fresh, the meat filling. The XO miso vegetarian ramen is particularly delicious, featuring a vegan version of XO sauce made by Chef David Chang, as well as chilis and garlic.
70 Kenmare Street
New York, NY 10012
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Ramen Lab brings chefs from around the world to guest at its Tokyo-style, pop-up ramen counter on the Lower East Side. The menu is therefore constantly changing, drawing on the various styles and ingredients of whoever happens to be in the kitchen. Sun Noodle, which owns the restaurant, tests recipes, updates classic preparations, and introduces products there too. Check the site for upcoming chefs, including folks from Paris and Boston, then go, and go again, and go again, and again.
366 West 52nd Street
New York, NY 10019
Long thought to be the source of the city’s best ramen, Totto Ramen also boasts some of the city’s longest lines. Once you’re lucky enough to be seated, you’re expected to order quickly, slurp quickly, and move on with the rest of your day. In other words, here’s where not to go for that leisurely date or catch-up with an old friend. We’re particularly fond of the eponymous miso ramen, with char siu, a hard boiled egg, and ground pork. But really, everything is chopstick-licking good.
Jessica Allen is a New York-based writer.