Cold January nights: waiting for Totto Ramen

I’m not really a big fan of eating ramen. I’m not quite sure what it is, I just never feel like the wait and cost is worth it. I think this might have something to do with the ramen I ate when I was in Beijing. Everything in the US (that I’ve tried, at least) has been more or less mediocre. This includes most places in Chicago.

Ramen in NYC is a different story. To be honest, I’ve never tried the ramen places in New York because there’s always a ridiculous wait. (1-2 hours??!? Seriously, it’s just a stupid bowl of noodles.) And, I have a very low tolerance for waiting for food.

However, on a really cold New York weekend, all I was craving was some hot soupy dish.
See, the weather was quite chilly. Good day to do nothing but eat hot soupy things.

Ramen seemed like the way to go. So we looked up good ramen places in NYC (that were not Ippudo).

And Totto Ramen came up as one of the highest rated ramen places in NYC. Now, Ray called in an hour before they opened (which was 4PM), and was told that the wait at 5 PM was about 20 minutes to an hour. 20 minutes, I can handle. I’m not so sure about an hour. We took the gamble.

By the time we got there (which was around 5:40), the line was out the door. We were told the wait was going to be 40 minutes.
I’m not quite sure what compelled me to stay. Maybe I was thinking “Just give it a shot. You’ve never really given Ramen in the US a chance.” Either way, we stayed the entire 1.5 hours waiting for ramen. Half of which was spent outside in the cold. At one point, we managed to watch an entire episode of White Collar on an iPhone.

When we were finally able to get into the place, we were seated at the bar. The view fro the bar was pretty fun.
The cooks were kind of interesting guys. They kind of had that “IDGAF” attitude, snacking behind the bar, not washing their hands, etc. (They definitely would not get an A rating, but who cares about health ratings as long as the place is reasonably clean and the food tastes good right?)

They had these huge vats of broth just stewing in the back.

We ordered a pork bowl, which was rice with char siu pork belly and an onsen tamago, which in this case was just a poached egg.
The pork belly was delicious. It was tender and fatty, the way pork belly is supposed to be.

And then after you’ve eaten enough of the pork belly, you can mix in your poached egg.
Look at that yolky hot mess!

I ended up ordering the spicy Totto Ramen with the char siu pork belly.
Apparently there’s tons of chili oil in it. Not just any kind of chili oil, but the “ma la” type that numbs your tongue and the Sichuan folks are so fond of. It makes a pretty mean soup for when you’re sick and cold.

Ray got the Miso broth one, also w/ the char siu pork belly.
I thought this one was also pretty tasty.

Overall, I thought the ramen was pretty good. There were enough noodles in the bowl to be quite satisfied, as well as, other ingredients (e.g. char siu pork belly, onsen tamago, etc.). So I do think it was worth the wait. But, I’m not entirely sure I would wait that long again.


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