The Quest: Ramen in NYC

The QuestI do not claim to be an aficionado or connoisseur of ramen, but I have been eating and loving ramen for more than two decades. My gateway ramen was Cup Noodles (which I just learned is not called Cup o Noodles), which I first had in elementary school and enjoyed through high school. In college I moved on to Top Ramen as most broke college students do. Shortly after moving to San Francisco, I finally had the real thing. I felt sophisticated the first time I slurped up a noodle from a proper ramen shop. This quest allowed me to chase that first ramen high as I slurped my way through the ramen shops of NYC.    The Comparison  Ramen Underground, Kearny St, San Francisco

Ramen Underground was right around the corner from where Rob used to live and so we checked it out almost as soon as it opened. I was immediately taken with the cozy space. There is a communal table with six seats, a private table in the window for four and about five stools lined up against the bar on the wall. The simple menu that didn’t bombard me with options was another plus. The first thing I ordered became my go to—miso broth with pork and an extra egg. This dish is what I based my quest in NY on.

Ramen Underground Breakdown

Noodles: thin and soft but not mushy. Broth: light and full of flavor; not too salty. Egg: fully done whites and medium done yolk that blends with the broth adding the perfect amount of thickness and creamy taste.

The Winner Ivan’s Slurp Shop, Hell’s Kitchen and Lower East Side, New York City

IMG_4020I heard about this shop on NPR a few months before we moved. We checked out the Hell’s Kitchen location on one of our preliminary visits to NY before moving here and it did not disappoint. The Hell’s Kitchen location has a food court vibe, but it was fun to sit at the counter and watch the ramen being made. It had a lot of the same tasty qualities I love about Ramen Underground but with its own spin. To confirm my feelings about Ivan’s Slurp Shop, we ate at the Lower East Side location, which is a proper restaurant, a couple of weeks ago. I was pleased that the service and taste were consistent across both locations. My taste buds lit up like they did the day I first tried Ivan’s, when I slurped my first noodle a couple of weeks ago.

Ivan’s Slurp Shop Breakdown

Noodle: a bit al dente but not in an underdone way. Made of rye so it has a richer flavor than the noodles at Ramen Underground. Broth: chicken broth base with soy sauce. Full of flavor, but not too salty. Egg: perfectly soft boiled every time so that it does the same mixing with the broth as the eggs at Ramen Underground do.

This was a tasty quest and I’ll admit, not a very hard one. The ramen craze is rampant in both cities so I had plenty of options to choose from for comparing. The next quest I am taking on are burritos. Burritos in general have been much harder to come by, not to mention burritos made to my liking. While this quest has been challenging, it has also been tasty and I am sure I will succeed in finding a burrito I deem worthy of winning this quest!

PS- I want to note two ramen places that came in close to being the winners- Ippudo and Yuji Ramen. Definitely worth checking out if you are a ramen fan like me!