Monday, June 7, 2010

Totto Ramen 06-04-2010



Location: 366 West 52nd St.
Time: 7:30pm
People: SamShady, JLam from MeSoHungry, RB and myself

Feelings: Two days after opening day, we stopped by at the Totto group's new ramen shop, Totto Ramen with hope and anticipation. Unfortunately, they are only open for dinner, so all the hungry Midtown workers have to wait until 5:30pm for the shop to open.

As we expected, there was a line out to the door at this very small, cramped place. After waiting 30-40 minutes for a table, we saw the problem. There was only one table here, and the rest of the seating was at the counter as an authentic ramen shop. For this reason, I would not recommend going with a big group or you would have to wait about an hour for one table to open up.

RB was running late, and we were told to order for him otherwise we would have to surrender our table. As soon as we sat down, we were rushed to order and rushed to eat. SamShady was still enjoying the delicious broth, but his bowl was taken away, and our bill showed up seconds after. The staff could not wait to clean the table as soon as possible so they could serve the next ramen hungry customers.

This high stressful experience at Totto Ramen made me realize that I am not quite so Japanese anymore. Perhaps I have been living in the U.S. for too long. This serving style, especially at ramen shop, is quite common at many restaurants in Japan. "You come in alone or with one more person, we serve you awesome food, and you pay and leave." --This is the style people are used to, including my father. He does not know what to do with himself when we go to restaurants in NYC since people here take their time to enjoy their meal. He would rather just eat and go since he considers restaurants "places to eat" rather than "places to enjoy your company while dining." Usually people in Japan go to cafes or bars to do what we do at restaurants. Although the ramen at Totto Ramen was spectacular, I was too stressed out and felt too pressured to enjoy my delicious bowl of ramen. It seems I am now more accustomed to the New York way of dining.

My Organic Vegetable Ramen ($11, with konbu kelp based broth) came with tons of delicious organic raw vegetables on top, and was essentially a ramen salad. The vegetables were crispy and fresh, and the yuzu flavor was refreshing. The noodles were perfectly al dente, and the broth was subtle dashi flavored without sodium or grease overload. I would no doubt call this dish the best veggie ramen in the city.

RB liked that his Totto Miso Ramen ($10.25, chicken based miso broth with sliced pork) came with an actual clump of miso in the broth. He thought the noodles were deliciously chewy, and the pork was perfectly cooked and succulent. SamShady and JLam seemed to be enjoying Totto Chicken Ramen ($9.25, chicken based broth with sliced pork), but we did not have much time to discuss what we were eating. SamShady quickly noted that while the pork was delicious, he still preferred Ippudo.

I am not sure how New Yorkers will take this fast, stressful dining style, but it would really be ideal for busy Midtown workers during lunch. They can come alone, slurp some ramen quickly, and go back to their work within an hour. Since it is far better and more authentic than Sapporo, Menkui Tei, and Menchanko Tei, I am certain it will attract many customers in the area.

2 comments:

thoughtfulplate said...

Since we're on the topic of Japanese goodness, you HAVE to try out Matcha Box. Go quickly! Only opened in this month!

http://www.cleanedmyplate.com/new_york_city/soho/restaurant_review/matcha-box/

aka Matcha Girl here. :)

Yosh O. said...

I was JUST reading about that place! Did you go already? How was it?