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25 best ramen dishes: NYC’s top Japanese noodles

TONY breaks down the specs of New York City’s best ramen dishes. From rich tonkotsu to brothless mazemen, here are Gotham’s essential noodle bowls.

1/25
Photograph: Jessica Lin

Ganso ramen at Ganso

Broth: Shoyu (soy sauce)
Noodles: Straight and thin
Toppings: Slow-braised pork two ways, ajitama egg, menma (braised bamboo shoots) and seasonal greens
Conversation piece: Before giving Downtown Brooklyn its own killer ramen den, owner Harris Salat was a seasoned food writer, whose culinary crush on Japan was well documented in the pages of The New York Times, Saveur and his own trio of cookbooks: The Japanese Grill, Japanese Hot Pots and Takashi’s Noodles. 25 Bond St at Livingston St, Downtown Brooklyn (718-403-0900, gansonyc.com). $12.

2/25
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Uni miso at Yuji Ramen

Broth: Brothless mazemen style
Noodles: Thick and slighty wavy
Toppings: Sea urchin, shiso, white miso, orange zest, crunchy nori strips, tare (concentrated soy and seaweed soup base), scallion oil
Conversation piece: After watching Americans let their noodles go soggy—the delicate strands are slurped up much more quickly in the motherland—Yuji Haraguchi came up with a fix. Formerly a high-end seafood purveyor to restaurants like Roberta’s and Per Se, the Japanese native decided to introduce New Yorkers to a newfangled Tokyo-style of ramen: the brothless mazemen. Brooklyn Flea, 1 Hanson Pl between Flatbush Ave and Ashland Pl, Fort Greene, Brooklyn (646-262-1358, facebook.com/yujiramen). Sat, Sun 11am–5pm; $10.

3/25
Photograph: Marielle Solan

Shoyu ramen at Jin Ramen

Broth: Shoyu (soy sauce), pork, chicken and vegetable stock, ginger and garlic shoots
Noodles: Skinny and straight
Toppings: Chashu (rolled, trussed and braised pork belly), menma, chopped scallions, roasted seaweed, soy-sauce-and-mirin soft-boiled egg and a side of pressed garlic
Conversation piece: In accordance with the restaurant’s name—jin is the kanji character for benevolence—owners Isan Chang and Jenny Ko contribute to charities supporting community-revitalization projects in the northern Columbia University area. 3183 Broadway between Tiemann Pl and W 125th St (646-559-2862, jinramen.com). $10.

4/25
Photograph: Jessica Lin

Shio ramen at Ramen Yebisu

Broth: Hokkaido-style shio (salt)
Noodles: Fresh, homemade and thick
Toppings:Char siu, seaweed, fresh scallions, bamboo shoots and crushed black pepper
Conversation piece: Hokkaido-born chef Akira Hiratsuka ferments his noodles for 48 hours, which lends the strands a wild, funky character that marries well with the briny shio broth. The freshness-fanatic toque insists on dine-in only for his standout bowls—no takeout or delivery—so that the ramen doesn’t turn mushy from sitting in broth for too long. 126 North 6th St between Bedford Ave and Berry St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (no phone, ramenyebisu.com). $10.

5/25
Photo: Caroline Voagen Nelson

Sapporo-style miso ramen at HinoMaru Ramen

Broth: Chicken-vegetable stock
Noodles: Thick and wavy
Toppings: Minced pork, corn kernels, chopped scallion, menma, bean sprouts, cabbage and fish cake
Conversation piece: This complex broth boasts more than 20 ingredients, including three types of umami-boosting miso (a sweet rice-based white version and red and brown bean-based varieties), plus a piquant seven-pepper spice blend. 33-18 Ditmars Blvd between 33rd and 35th Sts, Astoria, Queens (718-777-0228, hinomaruramen.com). $11.

6/25
Photograph: Jolie Ruben

Ma-yu ramen at Hide-Chan

Broth: Tonkotsu (pork-back bone, garlic, soy sauce and pork-back oil)
Noodles: Housemade straight (ask for them firm if you like your noodles al dente)
Toppings: Mayu (charred garlic oil), pork char siu, scallion and jelly-ear mushrooms
Conversation piece: Owner Bobby Munekata's mini empire also includes Totto Ramen, Soba Totto and Yakitori Totto. 366 W 52nd St between Eighth and Ninth Aves (212-582-0052, hidechanramen.com). $9.75.

7/25
Photograph: Krista Schlueter

Extreme Spicy Ramen at Totto Ramen

Broth: Paitan (chicken bones and vegetables)
Noodles: House-made straight and thin
Toppings: Original rayu (house-made spicy chili sauce), pork or chicken char siu, scallion, bean sprout and nori seaweed
Conversation piece: Totto's special spicy sauce—made with charred-sesame oil, red chili pepper, black pepper and garlic—is not lip-singeing, but the steaming broth coats your mouth and throat in chili, creating a slow burn that builds up as you work your way through the bowl. (Read more: the city's spiciest dishes.) 248 E 52nd St between Second and Third Aves, second floor (212-813-1800, tottoramen.com). $10.75.

8/25
Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

Shiro ramen at Ramen Misoya

Broth: Shiro miso, chicken and pork bones, ginger, seaweed kelp, vegetables and garlic
Noodles: Thick and wavy
Toppings: Fried tofu, bean sprouts, cabbage, bamboo shoots and miso-simmered ground pork
Conversation piece: The Misoya chain, which was founded just outside Tokyo in Chiba, focuses on different regional styles of miso ramen—the shiro variety is typical of Kyoto. 129 Second Ave between St. Marks Pl and E 7th St (212-677-4825, misoyanyc.com). $10.

9/25
Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

Pork-bone ramen at Chuko

Broth: Tonkotsu (pig's feet, pork belly, ham bones, pork scraps and bacon)
Noodles: Straight and thin
Toppings: Corn, poached egg, duroc pork or Giannone chicken, and scallions
Conversation piece: The three chefs in the kitchen—Jamison Blankenship, James Sato and David Koon—are all Morimoto vets, and they spent months testing different broths, noodles and toppings to create the three bowls on their opening menu. 552 Vanderbilt Ave between Bergen and Dean Sts, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn (718-576-6701, barchuko.com). $12.

10/25

Momofuku ramen at Momofuku Noodle Bar

Broth: Kelp, shiitake mushrooms, chicken, scallion, mirin, soy, sake and Benton's bacon
Noodles: Straight and alkaline
Toppings: Roasted pork belly, roasted pork shoulder, nori, napa cabbage, a poached egg, sliced scallions and a fish cake
Conversation piece: The first issue of Lucky Peach—David Chang's quarterly magazine, published by McSweeney's—includes a travelogue of the chef's ramen-eating adventures in Tokyo. 171 First Ave between 10th and 11th Sts (212-777-7773, momofuku.com). $16.

11/25
Photograph: Lindsay Maclean Taylor

Wild black cod ramen at Souen Organic Ramen

Broth: Vegetable, kale, shiitake mushroom stock and wild black-cod
Noodles: Your choice of wheat, white rice, brown-rice or zucchini styles
Toppings: Wild black cod, nappa cabbage, carrots, onion, broccoli, shiitake, kale and leeks
Conversation piece: Souen specializes in macrobiotic, vegan and vegetarian Japanese food; there is a gluten-free option for almost every dish on the menu. 326 E 6th St between First and Second Aves (212-388-1155, souen.net). $14.50.

12/25
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Terakawa Ramen at Terakawa Ramen

Broth: Tonkotsu (three kinds of pork bones—head, backbone and knees—are cooked for a minimum of 14 hours, and then left to sit for at least 12 more hours)
Noodles: Straight and thin
Toppings: Roasted pork belly, kikurage mushrooms, pickled ginger, scallions and bamboo shoots
Conversation piece: While tonkotsu is most commonly associated with Japan's Hakata region, Terakawa has its roots in Kumamoto, a nearby prefecture known for its slightly milder variation on the style. 885 Ninth Ave between 57th and 58th Sts (212-777-2939, terakawaramen.com). $9.

13/25
Photograph: Chiara Marinai

Tonkotsu ramen at Minca

Broth: An 80/20 blend of pork and chicken stocks, made in house with bones and flavored with Mongolian salt
Noodles: Choice of five varieties—owner Shigeto Kamada suggests very thick, plain noodles
Toppings: Mountain vegetables, Chinese-style mushrooms, bamboo shoots, scallions, slow-cooked pork belly, egg and nori
Conversation piece: Kamada fell in love with tonkotsu ramen while living in Tokyo in his twenties, and always wanted to create his own version of the famous pork broth. 536 E 5th St between Aves A and B (212-505-8001, newyorkramen.com). $10.50.

14/25
Photograph: Chiara Marinai

Tsukemen at Kambi

Broth: Tonkotsu (an 80/20 blend of house-made pork and chicken stocks, thickened with fish powder and other secret ingredients)
Noodles: Extremely thick, similar to udon
Toppings: Mountain vegetables, Chinese-style mushrooms, bamboo shoots, scallions, slow-cooked pork belly, egg and nori
Conversation piece: Tsukemen is also referred to by the name dipping noodles; rather than being combined in one bowl, the noodles and toppings are served on the side, then dipped with chopsticks into the broth. 351 E 14th St between First and Second Aves (212-228-1366, newyorkramen.com). $12–$14.

15/25
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Salt-and-butter ramen at Tokyo Restaurant

Broth: Chicken-based, with butter and salt added
Noodles: Slightly wavy
Toppings: Pork char siu, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, spinach, scallions and boiled egg
Conversation piece: Restaurant Tokyo is one of the stalwarts of Japanese dining in NYC; it's been in business for more than 40 years and serves a wide range of dishes. 342 Lexington Ave between 39th and 40th Sts (212-697-8330, tokyorestaurant.net). $10.75.

16/25
Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

Akamaru Modern at Ippudo NY

Broth: Tonkotsu cooked for 12–15 hours with pork bones from Berkshire pigs  
Noodles: Thin, straight and made in-house
Toppings: Pork-belly char siu, cabbage, kikurage mushrooms, scallions, garlic oil and umami dama (umami ball)
Conversation: Ippudo was brought to NYC by Shigemi Kawahara, who is known as "the Ramen King" in Japan; his rich, cloudy tonkotsu broths draw the longest lines of any of the city's ramen-ya, and they're well worth the wait. 65 Fourth Ave between 9th and 10th Sts (212-388-0088, ippudony.com). $15.

17/25
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Green curry miso ramen at Zuzu Ramen

Broth: Chicken-based stock mixed with white and red miso, green curry paste, garlic, soy and dashi
Noodles: Straight egg style
Toppings: Thai basil, cilantro, soft-cooked egg, scallions and pork-belly char siu
Conversation piece: This Brooklyn joint is known for its creative, nontraditional ramen styles, including a hot-and-sour variety with shrimp and lemongrass. 173 Fourth Ave at DeGraw St, Park Slope, Brooklyn (718-398-9898). $10.

18/25
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Kanton men at Menkui Tei

Broth: Soy- and seaweed-based
Noodles: Curly egg style
Toppings: Roasted pork, scallions, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots and egg
Conversation piece: This no-frills ramen spot—with plenty of seats to spare for a procession of NYU students and Japanese regulars—is a solid backup plan for anyone who doesn't want to wait for a table at nearby Ippudo. 63 Cooper Sq between Astor Pl and E 7th St (212-228-4152). From $10.

19/25
Photograph: Lindsay M Taylor

Curry ramen at Rai Rai Ken

Broth: Kelp with curry mixed in
Noodles: Slightly wavy
Toppings: Roasted pork, egg, scallions and seaweed
Conversation piece: With 30 seats, Rai Rai Ken is a good approximation of the small, humble ramen-ya found throughout Japan. 210 E 10th St between First and Second Aves (212-447-7030, rairaiken.com). $8.50.

20/25
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Shio ramen at Ramen Takumi

Broth: Chicken-based shio (salt)
Noodles: Straight and thin
Toppings: Bamboo shoots, boiled egg, seaweed, chicken breast and anchovies
Conversation piece: Shio ramen is popular on Hokkaido, a northern Japanese island where lots of expensive salt is mined, and in Tokyo. 90 University Pl between 11th and 12th Sts (212-229-2752). Lunch $8.95, dinner $9.95.

21/25
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Sapporo Special Ramen at Sapporo

Broth: Miso and chicken mixed and cooked together for eight hours
Noodles: Egg and wheat styles—medium-thick and slightly wavy
Toppings: Braised pork, diced pork, corn, spinach, scallions and bamboo shoots
Conversation piece: Sapporo is known as the birthplace of miso ramen. According to lore, the variant was invented in 1955, when a customer asked a chef to add some noodles to his miso-and-pork soup. 152 W 49th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves (212-869-8972, sapporonyc.com). $10.

22/25
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Tsukemen at Sanshiro (at SEO)

Broth: Soy-sauce–based dipping style
Noodles: Wavy and thick
Toppings: Pork, egg, spinach and bamboo shoots
Conversation piece: This pop-up ramen joint takes over the kitchen at midtown sushi restaurant SEO from 11pm to around 2am each night. 249 E 49th St between Second and Third Aves (212-355-7722). $12.50.

23/25
Photograph: Talia Shim

Shio ramen at Ramen Setagaya

Broth: Original shio made with chicken and pork bones, dried scallops, mushrooms, anchovies, garlic, ginger and cabbage
Noodles: Thin wheat style
Toppings: Barbecued pork, salted eggs, seaweed, bamboo shoots, scallions and scallop powder
Conversation piece: This Japanese export started in Tokyo before making the jump to the East Village; the shio broth here is unique for its nontraditional use of chicken and pork bones. 34 St. Marks Pl between Second and Third Aves (212-387-7959, ramensetagayany.com). Lunch $8.50, dinner $10.

24/25
Photograph: Courtesy of Kubo Hiroshi

Kubo-chan shio at Kuboya

Broth: A light-bodied blend of seafood, chicken and pork; seasoning includes dried shrimp and dried scallop
Noodles: Slightly thin and wavy, custom-made with Japanese wheat
Toppings: Pork char siu, bamboo shoots, cooked egg and scallions
Conversation piece: Owner Hiroshi Kubo grew up eating ramen in Tokyo, but he spent six years of his youth in Fukuoka, where he fell in love with the tonkotsu broth popular there. With his mash-up recipes, he seeks to combine his favorite types of ramen into an original New York style. 536 E 5th St between Aves A and B (212-777-7010, kuboyanyc.com). $10.50; half size $7.

25/25
Photograph: Hannah Mattix

Hakata ramen at Menchanko Tei

Broth: Rich, cloudy Hakata-style pork-bone
Noodles: Very thin and straight
Toppings: Pork char siu, black mushrooms, red ginger and scallions
Conversation piece: In addition to several varieties of ramen, this midtown spot also offers "Menchanko" soups, inspired by traditional, hearty stews eaten by sumo wrestlers. They are served in large cast-iron pots packed with noodles, meat, seafood, vegetables and a light soy-sauce-based broth. 131 E 45th St between Lexington and Third Aves (212-986-6805, menchankotei.com). $9.25.

For years, New Yorkers have sought comfort in the city’s best ramen bowls, lining up at the revered Ippudo or ducking into student favorite Rai Rai Ken on a cold winter night. The popularity of the humble Japanese dish shows no signs of slowing down, with new spots popping up every year, so we checked in at noodle joints all over the city to see which versions were best. Slurp through our list of these standout bowls.

Comments

11 comments
jmegraw
jmegraw

How about a "reader's choice" list be organized here too, thanks

Karen C
Karen C

This is odd. I think I saw this same article last year - maybe there's updates? I'm no ramen expert but a lot of places on this list are horrible or very plain. I went to some ramen shops while in Tokyo and despite what most people think, they have very plain jane ramens too. The ones that disappointed us were - Menkui Tei, Sapporo, Ramen Misoya, Rai Rai Ken. Each place has their good and bad ramen bowls.

Our personal favs from this list are:

Kambi - chicken + pork broth ramen with thick wavy noodles

Ramen Takumi - shio tsukemen or the shio ramen

Ramen Setagaya - shoyu tsukemen

Toto Ramen - chicken broth

Chuka - tonkotsu

Hide-Chan, Hinomaru and Terakawa are decent but definitly not our go to.

Portia Z
Portia Z

I got an email from TONY with this list today, January 9, 2015. The article is two years old. Why link me to this? Surely it needs to be updated.

maki
maki

Ganso ramen is not tasty. I am Japanese and I know ramen. I felt like there is no "KOKU" taste. It doesn't have a good body.Rai-raiken has a same probrem. The ramen master was supposed to work in Japan. What's going on? FYI, Momofuku is not a Japanese. It's Korean. I've never been there. I can recomend Kuboya and Jin. You can have a decent Japanese ramen.

Sean
Sean

A couple of the addresses are wrong on here. Double check where you are going.

Melanie
Melanie

was thinking of this too...

ac
ac

you basically picked one from each ramen shop in nyc - this is not a best of list. if it was, momofuku's dishwater broth noodles wouldn't be on here.

AL KUTNER
AL KUTNER

YOU MEAN TO TELL ME THERE ARE NO NOTEWORTHY RAMEN PLACES IN FLUSHING, QUEENS?

carter
carter

HOW IS THEIR NOT A SINGLE FUKCIN' RAMEN PLACE DOWNTOWN????

Abram
Abram

Timeout also has an article on 20 ramen shops that people should check out in Tokyo. That list is absolute garbage, the write is a ramen novice. I haven't been to NYC recently so can't comment on any of the shops listed here, but I would advise readers to be wary. That is all.

Ben
Ben

Waza on Myrtle in Clinton Hill has Tonkotsu that will knock your socks off!