Courtesy of Ippudo
Perfect ramen is well worth the wait, proven by the lines of hungry New Yorkers who frequently stand by for an hour or more for springy, chewy noodles nestled in rich broth. The three restaurants below are at their soul-satisfying best during the cold winter months—pick up your chopsticks and get ready to slurp.
Upscale Ippudo is an import from Japan with an original East Village outpost (65 Fourth Ave.; 212-388-0088) and a second midtown location (321 W. 51st St.; 212-974-2500). Go early—possibly a couple of hours before you actually want to eat. (The restaurant will text you when a seat is vacant.) The minimal dining room has an open kitchen and a helpful staff that will walk you through the menu. Best known for the Japanese-style tonkotsu pork broth (pictured above), Ippudo serves up rich, intensely satisfying bowls with thin, straight noodles made in-house. ippudony.com.
A line of Japanese expats often forms before Totto Ramen (366 W. 52nd St.; 212-582-0052) even opens its doors. Write your name on the clipboard outside and join the queue or venture a few more blocks to its second location (464 W. 51st St.; 646-596-9056), which has more seating and shorter waits. Here the popular paitan ramen gets its intense flavor from a rich yet light chicken stock that cooks for hours. The noodles are spot on. Our paitan topped with chicken, kikurage mushrooms and bamboo shoots made an ideal Saturday lunch. tottoramen.com.
The mezzanine level of the Whole Foods Market Bowery is the unlikely home of one of New York’s most exciting bowls of ramen. After sparking long lines at Smorgasburg (a massive food market held in various Brooklyn locations), Yuji Haraguchi found a home for his popular mazemen—a newer style of ramen made without broth—in the grocery store. This no-frills counter promises a flavor-packed experience. Order the mazemen with smoky bacon, a poached egg and thin ribbons of kale, stir all the ingredients together and dig in. 95 E. Houston St., 2nd fl.; 212-420-1320, ext. 281; yujiramen.com.