New ramen joints
As the winter chill sets in, TONY checks out the latest crop of ramen-ya to bring their steaming, noodle-packed soups to NYC.
Wed Nov 23 2011
Photograph: Lizz Kuehl
It's a testament to ramen's cultural clout in our city that for many New Yorkers, Japanese food is no longer synonymous with sushi. The ascendancy of the beloved noodle soup makes sense when you consider that in Japan, sushi is traditionally a delicacy, eaten on special occasions, while ramen is an everyday comfort food, with countless regional variants slurped year-round (ramen sweats be damned). Here in New York, both pedigreed expats and talented gaijin have helped turn the city on to the pleasures of the ramen bowl: Stalwarts like Sapporo paved the way, followed in 2004 by the splashy arrival of Momofuku and, more recently, the influx of top-notch Japanese exports like Ramen Setagaya and Ippudo. And while our options here still reflect only a sliver of the ramen spectrum, newcomers continue to expand the landscape, tweaking familiar recipes or introducing previously unavailable styles to a still-hungry market. We checked out three of the most recent entrants to find out if they pass muster.