Surviving the Snow with Totto Ramen and Heavy Layers
January 29, 2014
I think I can speak for everyone in the Tri-State area when I say I am 100% over this weather. From the blistering cold to snow every other day, this January is becoming something of unending misery. That said, the only good thing about this weather is that it makes a rich, warm bowl of Japanese ramen that much more comforting and all-in-all amazing.
Lucky for me and everyone else that lives in the Hell’s Kitchen area, the neighborhood has quickly become something of a ramen mecca in NYC. From Ippudo expanding their franchise with a westside location, to Ivan Orkin setting up his first slurp shop in NYC at Gotham West Market (review on that one later, but let’s just say I’m hoping Orkin’s LES shop lives up to the hype a little better). While those two spots are new to Hell’s Kitchen, Totto Ramen has been a standby, serving up their paitan ramen whose rich broth is made with chicken. With regular wait times of 2 hours, I was incredibly happy that they opened up a new location that is much less crowded and just one avenue away from the original restaurant.
A happy and warm camper after a bowl of Totto Ramen
Vintage sweater | H&M hat (similar) and scarf (similar) | YesStyle Hooded Parka (similar)
Philip Lim x Target Mini Satchel | Longchamp Tote | Non-ugly Ugg Boots (similar)
And so on this past snowy Saturday, I bundled up and trekked (ok walked a whole block) to Totto Ramen’s new location where I was happy to immediately get a seat at the bar for lunch (that’s right – no signing up on a wait list for a table, no 2 hour waits, no waiting in the cold!). My go-to order at Totto is to start with their perfectly built Avo Tuna appetizer. 3 slices of sushi-grade tuna is served on top of a wedge of avocado and a soy-based sauce, sprinkled with browned garlic, and comes with a dollop of my favorite condiment – yuzukosho – a blend of Japanese citrus, chili peppers, and salt. While Totto Ramen also serves Japanese fried chicken and pork buns, I’d save those cravings for a trip to Ippudo where they do them much better (albeit at a higher price). The fried chicken at Totto Ramen comes covered in a sweet and sour type sauce that, while good, leaves the chicken a bit soggy, and the pork buns have a bit too much mayo while lacking a bit in that fatty, melt-in-your-mouth tender pork that make pork buns so yummy.
As far as the main courses go though, you can’t go wrong with Totto’s paitan ramens. With varying levels of spice, there’s a heat level for even the wimpiest of palates. The standard bowl comes with the option of chicken or pork char sui (hint: pick the pork) as well as a sheet of nori seaweed and scallions. Totto keeps their noodles on the chewier, slightly more al dente side which I prefer, but like Ippudo and some of the other shops, you’ll need to pay for most additions, like a soft-boiled egg or bamboo shoots.
While Ippudo’s Akumaru Modern will probably always remain my personal all-time favorite bowl in NYC, Totto Ramen’s new location offers a much shorter wait to get their incredibly flavorful bowl of noooodles that will keep you warm this winter and still leave you a happy camper. What I can’t guarantee is how long it will keep you warm after you leave the restaurant and discover it’s actually snowing outside, in which case you might end up looking more like this: