The Absolute Best Places for Ramen Right Now

Momosan Ramen
New York

The Absolute Best Places for Ramen Right Now
The Absolute Best Places for Ramen Right Now

Momosan Ramen | Evan Sung
Momosan Ramen | Evan Sung

Well, New York, it’s officially ramen season. The city’s obsession with the Japanese noodle soup shows no signs of stopping, which is good news for noodle lovers, but also means the city is more crowded than ever with ramen options. In an effort to help you avoid limp noodles and bland broths, we’ve rounded up the very best ramen in New York -- from under-the-radar slurp shops to old reliables. Whether it’s a milky, china-white tonkotsu bone broth; a delicate paitan; a fiery-red mean miso; tsukemen dipping noodles; or a top-notch tantan you’re looking for, you’ll find it here.



Lower East Side

Ramen rock star Shigetoshi "Jack" Nakamura saw mass success in Japan after opening his ramen-ya, Namanura-ya, at age 22, but in New York you probably recognize him from his time spent as the chef-in-residence at artisanal ramen noodle manufacturer Sun Noodle’s Ramen Lab. Earlier this year, he opened his own ramen-ya, a hidden gem right underneath the Williamsburg Bridge, under his namesake.

At Nakamura, the move is to start your meal with an order of gyoza, which are thin-skinned and quite possibly the crispiest in town. As for the actual ramen, Nakamura's is a fusion between art and science. There may not be the widest variety of ramen on the menu, but each bowl is perfect in so many ways. For example, the Torigara ramen, Chef Nakamura's signature, is a delicate broth loaded with deep flavor. A traditional, standard style of ramen, the dish features a chicken-bone broth with ginger, kombu, and fish dashi, which adds more of a smoky umami flavor. Chef Nakamura adds his proprietary shoyu seasoning and tops the bowl with a slice of chashu, spinach, menma, and nori. Nakamura's ajitama (soft-boiled egg) is always served separately, as he believes the egg changes the broth’s flavor, so he lets you make the call of when you want to drop it in. If all of this doesn't float your menma, Nakamura has begun making his own in-house noodle, with the taste and texture of what you've been searching for. With only 18 seats, the place packs up fast, and the colder it gets, the longer the lines. Be prepared and keep in mind: It’s well worth the wait!

Flickr/Michael Vito


Alphabet City

If you're talking about old-school NYC ramen, you're talking about Minca Ramen Factory, a tiny ramen-ya where you can sit at the counter and take in all the ramen action. It’s got an extensive menu with around 15 options including chicken, vegetable, and seafood, and a tonkotsu broth, but your choice pick is the Minca Sio, a bowl flavored with salt and roast garlic, topped with sliced stewed pork and vegetables. Minca lets you choose from five different styles of noodle for your ramen (thick, thin, wavy, whole wheat, or gluten-free bean), but the wavy noodle really grabs the garlic-rich broth well. Be sure to watch the chef work blowtorch magic on the pork chashu. Here’s a slurp & destroy tip for you: If you can’t get in to Minca, head over to the sister ramen-ya Kambi on 14th St. It’s the exact same menu, the only difference being Kambi is bigger with a more modern look (Kambi also has great lunch specials).

Ivan Ramen

Ivan Ramen

Lower East Side

You can't talk about ramen without Ivan Orkin's name coming up in the boil. Sort of a ramen unicorn, Orkin's a nice Jewish boy from Long Island turned Japanophile who’s become one of the most recognized ramen chefs in Japan as well as the States. He’s opened two ramen-yas in the city: The Slurp Shop, located in the Gotham West Market in Hell’s Kitchen, and Ivan Ramen on the Lower East Side.

At Ivan Ramen, appetizers shouldn’t be overlooked -- specifically the Daikon XO salad made with dried shrimp, scallop, and chili oil, and the steamed pork buns. Ordering your bowl of ramen is a bit of a challenge here because each bowl in itself is a special event. Should you choose the Triple Pork Triple Garlic Mazemen, you’re going to feel it (did you just consume a bowl of ramen or did it consume you?). With it, you get a healthy serving of tonkotsu broth, pork belly served two ways, plus whole-wheat noodles. Should you want to go down the lighter path, order up the Tokyo Shio (salt flavor) or the Tokyo Shoyu (soy sauce flavor). Both of these bowls are served with Ivan's notorious rye noodle (a nod to his Jewish heritage). If you finish your noodles before you down the broth and you fancy more, say to the waiter "kae-dama,” which is Japanese for an extra round of noodles. Try to get a counter seat, then look above the kitchen, where you'll find a cartoon panel that teaches you the art of the slurp!


East Village

Misoya is often overlooked when it comes to “best of” ramen lists in NYC, and it shouldn't be at all. Misoya focuses solely on Miso (fermented soybean) broths. If miso is not for you, go around the corner down St. Mark’s Place to Ramen Setagaya (get the shoyu, it's a decent slurp!). Misoya’s Kome miso is a full-flavored broth that's slightly bitter (if you order Kome, cut the bitterness with a topping of butter… yes, butter). Mame miso is a dark broth that's slightly sweet, while Shiro miso is light and clean (if you're new to miso, you’re best off starting with Mame).

The most unique option at Misoya is the miso curry chicken katsu ramen, which is a beast of a bowl with a rich, curry-flavored miso, three massive pieces of crispy chicken, ground pork, egg, bean sprouts, green onion, corn, fried potato, bamboo shoot, menma, and pickled daikon radish. The full-bodied broth laced with the sweetness of the Japanese curry makes it hard to stop slurping. Sip tip: The longer you let the chicken katsu soak in your broth, the better it becomes. The menma always has a little snap to it, the egg is always shiny and runny, and the slightly kinky noodles help the broth cling so you’ll feel the spray on the back of your throat while slurping them down. This is one of the heartiest bowls of ramen in the city for sure, and on top of that, miso broth is traditionally served 10° hotter than all other bowls of ramen... Meaning, in the the dead of winter, when it’s bone-chilling cold out and you're ravenous, this is where you should be going.

Flickr/Mikey V


East Village

Generally, if you mention ramen in New York, someone will mention Ippudo. Then they’ll insist it’s either the best in the city (period, the end!) or, they’ll tell you it’s way overrated (and they know five other ramen joints you MUST try to solidify their point). Any way you want to slurp it, you’re going to wait in a long line to figure out the answer. Hailing from Fukuoka, Japan, Ippudo has become a worldwide name thanks to tonkotsu broth made of pork bones and simmered for days. Ippudo is also one of the few ramen-yas to make its own house noodles (not an easy feat). The East Village spot is always buzzing, loud, and fun (the staff greets you in unison in Japanese when you walk in the dining area).

If it’s your first slurp at Ippudo, stick with the classics. Begin your journey with the Hirata pork buns -- sandwiched between the cloud-like bun is pork, eringi mushroom, Ippudo’s original spicy buns sauce, and mayo. Next up, slurp the Akamaru Modern ramen: onkotsu soup noodles topped with Ippudo’s secret “Umami Dama” miso paste, pork chashu, cabbage, sesame kikurage mushrooms, scallions, and fragrant garlic oil. Suggested toppings are nitamago (soft-boiled seasoned egg) and takana (pickled mustard leaves). Upon first slurp, you’ll experience the deep umami sensation. Work on finishing your noodles first and leave yourself with a decent amount of broth. Then say to your waiter “kae-dama, please” for some more of those award-winning noodles. After that, you should be able to make your decision about whether or not it’s one of the city’s best.

Flickr/Dave Liao


Hell’s Kitchen, Midtown West, Midtown East

What started at one very tiny ramen-ya on West 52nd St has now grown into three exceedingly popular locations, making Totto an absolute staple in the New York ramen scene. Totto serves what is quite possibly the best paitan broth in the business. What Ippudo is to tonkotsu, Totto is to paitan. The chicken broth is paired with a springy, golden, wavy noodle, and the bowl is topped off with pulled chashu pork and tender pork belly chunks, which is a sensory overload in the best of ways. To push your bowl over the edge, add on a poached egg and Totto's rayu (a chili oil filled with garlic, onion, dried shrimp, and scallops) -- all the flavors blend together so well, and the rayu adds a kick you won’t get elsewhere.

Ramen Lab by Sun Noodle

Ramen Lab


Ramen Lab could be the tiniest ramen-ya in the city, but it’s also the most unique. Owned and operated by Sun Noodles, a noodle maker who works with ramen chefs to develop unique broth and noodle pairings, Ramen Lab is known for hosting a new ramen-ya guest in residence nearly every month. These ramen masters come from all around the world (Japan, Hawaii, and Italy to name a few) to serve up their ramen creations in the tiny, 15-person restaurant (there are no chairs here, prepare to stand). With the kitchen directly in front of you, you can watch your bowl be assembled from start to finish. Most importantly, the lab really promotes ramen education and noodle knowledge; you're encouraged to ask the chef questions while you watch him shake the noodles you're about to slurp.

Benkei Ramen (inside of Ramen Yebisu)


Who is the mysterious Chef Ito? In the dead of winter 2013, if you were in the know, you were showing up at a sushi joint on Houston after closing time. The reason: From midnight until 4am, chef Ito Shigeru would take over with a ramen pop-up known (to the lucky) as Benkei Ramen. There, Ito served up a very limited menu: seven different bowls of ramen, a handful of appetizers, and a few toppings. Ito quickly developed an elite cult following, until one very sad day, he vanished seemingly out of nowhere. Months later, Ito’s Benkei Ramen returned to Hill & Dale on the Lower East Side after-hours. But then it happened again. Rumors started to circulate and sightings were reported. Some said he was in NJ working at Mitsuwa Market, others claimed Benkei Ramen reopened in a Midtown hotel and the ramen-ya was hidden behind a wall in a lobby. Now, yet again, Ito has reappeared, serving the ramen he’s known for.

If you go to Ramen Yebisu in Williamsburg, you’ll find Chef Ito serving the Benkei menu during normal operating hours, as opposed to the cult-favorite 3:30am. To begin your experience, start off with the chashu don. Ito’s chashu is not too fatty and encased in a ring of bark that could match any great BBQ joint. Next, order the Kaisen ramen. Like a saltwater aquarium you can eat, this colorful and unique bowl includes scallops, crab legs, shrimp, and a giant clam. The noodles are made with a touch of tapeoa, which gives them a slightly smooth and creamy feel and works perfectly with the broth, which has a burst of shoyu in it. An extremely close second on the menu is the tonkotsu ramen. Again, it’s a visual masterpiece, with rich pork, umami explosion, and dark sticky black garlic oil. In the past the only drawback at Benkei was that it could be a little slow (Ito is a one-man show at his pop-ups and very protective of his recipes), but now that he’s at Yebisu Ramen, this tiny issue has been completely eliminated.


Hell’s Kitchen

When you’re in the mood for ramen but want to try a bowl that’s totally different than anything you’ve had before, head right around the corner from Ippudo West to Mentoku (which is also the place to go if you want to jump out of the long Ippudo line and get your ramen fix ASAP). Chef Yasuo Okada serves extremely unique and slightly unusual Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen -- the pork bone broth takes 15 hours to cook, which gives it its creamy rich favor.

Start your meal off with the Edamame Cheese Senbei, a simple dish made up of little pucks of crispy cheese (the kind you pick off the pan when making grilled cheese) and bits of edamame inside. As for the bowls, whether you’re a vegetarian or not, give the tasty and healthy Matcha ramen a slurp. The bowl looks like a shimmering emerald with its matcha green hue topped with konjak (a black yam cake), menma, kikurage mushrooms, soy milk, and green tea soup noodles. If you’re feeling adventurous, get the Yuzu-Kosho ramen with the spicy whipped cream topping. This bowl comes loaded with spicy pork soup noodles, peppery yuzu paste, and pork loin chashu. The broth has a good kick to it while the citrus of the yuzu bangs through. You won’t see the good stuff floating in your bowl because it’s completely covered with a potato-based whipped cream that’s surprisingly not sweet, but rather has a little spicy heat to it as well. Try to watch Chef Okada while he swirls the whipped cream on the top of the bowl from the canister.



West Village

Ramen-Ya (not the most original name) has two locations -- one on West 4th and another next to the Blue Note on West 3rd. They’re practically next door to one another. If that’s not strange enough, Ramen-Ya on West 4th St is great, while the one on West 3rd, despite having the exact same menu, is known to have pretty terrible service and inconsistent ramen.

The original location on West 4th is tucked away in a brownstone, which will make you feel like you’re walking into somebody’s building and eating ramen in their foyer. The menu has a wide range of options to choose from. Start your meal with excellent gyoza and squid dumplings, then move on to one of the top two bowls: the Musashi Pork Shio Black Ramen, with straight, thin noodles in tonkotsu broth topped with pork chashu, kikurage mushrooms, nitamago (seasoned egg), scallions, and black garlic oil. The super-bright broth cutting in with the black garlic oil will leave your mouth full of flavor while being slick and sticky at the same time. It’s a heavy bowl for sure, perfect for really cold nights. The second and equally as great bowl is the Kojiro Chicken Shio Red Ramen, featuring a wavy, thick egg noodle (great for the broth to cling to) in a salt-based chicken paitan that will remind you of your Bubbie's chicken soup that had the little fat bubbles floating at the top. The bowl looks like an angry red fire ball, and for good reason: It’s very spicy! Fun fact: on Friday and Saturday nights, Ramen-Ya stays open until 3am.

Evan Sung

Momosan Ramen & Sake

Midtown East

Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto was given the name Momosan by his staff (Morimoto san shortened to Momo san), and everything you would expect from an Iron Chef can be found at his Midtown East ramen-ya. Upon arrival, be sure to take a look at the impressive sake list -- which includes six sakes that are Morimoto’s signatures -- and put in an order of crispy pig ears served with sweet Japanese mayo.

When it comes to ordering your ramen, Morimoto offers the rare opportunity to order just half a bowl, which allows you to order a second and try more. The exception to this rule is Morimoto’s Tsukemen (a deconstructed ramen where you dip the noodles in a concentrated broth). After you’ve had that, get the tantan ramen, which has an amazing, bright-orange-colored broth that’s comprised of spicy coconut curry, pork chashu, red miso ground pork, aji-tama, and cilantro. The coconut curry with red miso is the star of the bowl, and the noodles have a nice bounce to them. Fun fact: Morimoto and the world-famous Sun Noodle designed a special noodle that doesn’t decompose as quickly as a normal ramen noodle, allowing you to slow down your slurp. The decomposition of the noodle from soaking in the broth too long is why all noodle nuts know you have to slurp noodles in under 12 minutes, but here you don't have to.

Hide-Chan Ramen

Midtown East

Hideto Kawahara, the ramen master of Hide-Chan Ramen, carries himself with the swagger of a rock star. He’s the prodigy son of the owner of Daruma Ramen, which opened in Hakata-ku, Fukuoka over 50 years ago. Hide-Chan is the sister ramen-ya of Totto, located directly above it, and specializes in Hakata tonkotsu -- known for its cloudy-white color, long noodles, and its deep pork flavor with a creamy consistency. You can taste the history, tradition, and science with every slurp. The fun begins when you place your order, as you have complete control over customizing your bowl -- from the firmness of your noodle to how much fat you want in your broth (either a lot, aka “Hakata-style” or medium, aka “NY-style”). Be sure to try the Hakata kuro ramen with ma-ru (a small blast of semi-burnt garlic oil). The garlic oil is extremely fragrant and has a roasted, nutty, kind of earthy flavor to it that plays well off of the broth. It’s a cornucopia of flavors when the topping of the scallions, the salty nori, and the crunchy kikurage come into play with the ma-ru-infused pork broth. Also, Hide-Chan is open until 4am Friday nights to cure your late-night ramen cravings!

Kogane Ramen

Kogane Ramen

Brooklyn Heights

Kogane Ramen is a special little ramen-ya that sets itself apart from 98.7% of all other ramen-yas in New York City because it makes its own homemade noodles fresh daily. Currently, Kogane is producing two styles of noodles: Tokyo -style (which are thin and kinky) and Hakata-style (which are long and thin). The staff’s mission is to serve a perfectly balanced bowl, using fresh broth, toppings, and noodles. This mission comes to life in the tonkotsu ramen. The bone-white broth sparkles like fine china. Hovering on top of the broth are dark black spots that are made of aromatic black garlic oil. The whole thing gets topped off with scallions, egg yolk, wood ear mushrooms, menma, and pork jowl lay on top of the golden noodles. At first slurp, you’ll feel the spray of heavy bone broth mixed with nutty garlic oil fly off the noodle and spray the back of your throat. The noodles are elastic and alive, bouncing between your teeth, and the crunchy menma and earthy mushrooms add texture and an unbeatably fresh taste. Still, the star of the show is undoubtedly the pork jowl, which is unbelievably tender. When the jowl hits your tongue it seems to evaporate, leaving a deep umami coating on your tongue.

Shuya Cafe de Ramen

Shuya Cafe de Ramen


Astoria now has its fair share of ramen-yas, but Shuya Cafe de Ramen stands out as one of the best for its signature shuya ramen, topped with Top Neck clams, pork chashu, seaweed, and a flavored egg. This full-body paitan broth is unique in that it’s made from chicken, fish, and clam broth, giving it a strong umami taste. The smoky chashu is buttery soft and the flavors play well together when coated in the slightly briny broth. The flavored whole egg and the noodles are slightly chewy but still cling on well to the broth. Be sure to pay attention to the broth at the bottom of the bowl, which has a stronger salty taste (and if you let the pork soak in it a bit, a pumped-up flavor of the meat). If you’re a collector or a participant in ramen porn, this bowl is beyond Instagram-worthy -- but also really does taste as good as it looks.

Flickr/Steven Leung

Rai Rai Ken

East Village

This is as old-school as it gets when it comes to NYC ramen. A 15-year East Village staple, Rai Rai Ken has slowly expanded over the years. In 2001 it opened in a very, very tiny space on East 10th. In the dead of winter there was no better place to slurp (it was also pretty much the only place to slurp) because it was a sweatbox and you’d be warmed right up once you got a counter seat. Then, 11 years later, it moved a few doors down to a much bigger and more beautifully designed space. After one year in the new expansion, the team opened a second shop in Harlem. All this is based around a ramen menu that’s barely changed. That says a lot. Rai Rai Ken is Rai Rai Ken.

There are many worthwhile appetizers, side dishes, and ramens worth exploring here. The gyoza, pork buns, and kara-age hold their own. The shoyu and shio ramen both come loaded with great toppings: roasted pork, bamboo shoots, boiled egg, spinach, fish cake, dry seaweed, and scallion. Slurping the miso butter corn ramen on a snowy day will warm you up better than almost anything. If you don’t mind a little extra work, the DIY tsukemen ramen comes with a thick, chewy chilled noodle and a rich pork and seafood dipping broth. And make sure you try the crunchy chili oil, which deserves to be sold to the public in jugs -- get the little mini negi rice with the chili oil mixed in and you’ll see why.


Mu Ramen

Long Island City

If you’re ramen-obsessed, then you’ve most likely heard the hype about a Long Island City ramen-ya called Mu. It was only a few years ago when chef and owner Joshua Smookler and his wife (and hostess) Heidy opened one of the first ramen-ya pop-ups after-hours in a bagel shop -- and after a glowing New York Times write-up mysteriously shut it down. About eight months later, the duo reappeared with a permanent restaurant. Mu is one of the most beautifully designed ramen-yas around. The lighting, wooden communal tables, and the counter facing the kitchen all give off a very warm and comfortable vibe, but it’s still all about the food.

Smookler is a stickler when it comes to quality ingredients and you’ll taste this throughout his menu. Choosing the U&I appetizer (uni and ikura mounded with spicy raw tuna over sushi rice) is a decadent way to start, and leaves you plenty of room for a bowl of Smookler’s spectacular ramen. For first-timers at Mu, it’s all about his take on pork broth, in the Tonkotsu “2.0.” After boiling pork bones for hours, Smookler skims the fat from the broth resulting in a less greasy and dense concoction with a strong pork flavor. Layered beneath the broth are slightly al dente Sun Noodles that grip the pork well. Toppings include chashu pork jowl, kikurage, naruto menma, and scallions. Mu also offers a small list of additional toppings including two types of eggs: nitamago (seasoned) and onsen (sous vide). It’s slightly more expensive than other ramen-yas, and the bowls are a bit smaller, but Tonkotsu “2.0” is on the heavier side, which makes you feel like you’ve gotten your money’s worth.

Flickr/S Chia


Prospect Heights

The only thing that could possibly ruin a great ramen experience? Dining with that one vegetarian friend who can’t find anything on the menu to eat. Take that friend to Chuko. Although the Chuko menu is on the smaller side of what other ramen-yas have to offer, there’s lot of knowledge and focus behind the menu. Both carnivores and vegetarians can enjoy the lightly tempura-battered kale salad with miso, sweet raisins, and crunchy sweet potatoes. As for ramen, your veggie-minded companion will have four broths to choose from, including the spectacular veggie miso. This rich, white miso broth comes with floating cubes of tofu, cabbage, bean sprouts, enoki mushrooms, and snow peas. The broth is hearty with a light pepper flair and clings to the curly ramen noodles well. You, the flesh eater, have to have the pork bone ramen, which comes with long, thin noodles, chashu, scallions, mushrooms, and a boiled egg. The chashu isn’t fatty at all and loaded with flavor. The broth is the star, even though it can be slightly greasy. The noodles are fat, golden and slightly chewy. Two things to note: One, the sake list here is almost as good as the ramen, and two, you know this already, but be prepared to wait in line (it’s worth it).




Head to the midway point inside Chelsea Market and you’ll find Korean-style ramen-ya mŏkbar. Here, chef and owner Esther Choi serves up two different styles of ramen: “brothy” and “saucy,” both of which infuse traditional Korean soups with ramen noodles. The best by far is the kimchi Jjigae," which is a kimchee bacon broth topped with braised pork, stewed kimchee, and scallion. The broth is bright orange and thick, with spicy kimchee tang and a smoked-bacon pop that plays off the sweet tender pork. The menu also offers a robust list of toppings including poached egg and pork belly (both a must with this bowl) as well as a nice selection of kimchee that’s sold in take-home jars (try the daikon).

Mr. Taka Ramen

Lower East Side

In just one year, a little ramen-ya on the LES has become a strong contender for best new ramen in NYC. It all started with childhood buddies Takatoshi and Takayuki, who own a Michelin-noted ramen-ya in Tokyo. Chef Takatoshi Nagara now serves some of the city’s best ramen, with a variety of broths and noodle styles. Taka keeps his menu fresh by producing unique weekly specials (like a spicy tomato miso chili ramen or a Christmas-only seafood ramen). You can't fail with the yuzu shoyu, a white-soy-sauce-flavored chicken and bento fish broth with a zing of yuzu that’ll keep you slurping to the bottom of the bowl. If you’re a fan of pork, Taka's spicy tonkotsu is the bowl for you. The slick and creamy broth will give you a heady high and leave your lips feeling slick with fat. The vegetarian bowl is also totally worth trying, whether you eat meat or not. The silky vegetable soy broth is spiked with a flare of heat that plays well with the cooling effect of avocado.

Ramen Shack 屋台

Ramen Shack

Long Island City

Chef Keizo Shimamoto is every ramen enthusiast’s hero. He's a Japanese-American former computer programmer who left his career in the US to travel throughout Japan, conquering 55 bowls in just 28 days. He then became ramen master Ivan Orkin's apprentice, working out of his Tokyo ramen-ya. After he returned to the States, Shimamoto continued his journey slinging ramen for both Ramen Co and Bassanova. Oh yeah, and he's also the man behind the ramen burger. The next move on his noodle quest was his traveling pop-up, Ramen Shack. At spots like Smorgasburg, where he literally pitched up the shack, Shimamoto was able to experiment with new recipes while continuing to develop and perfect his staples, like his Dirty Shoyu ramen -- a traditional Tokyo-style, soy-sauce-based, broth-infused bowl with a magical paste made out of fried sardine heads.

As of late last month, you can now find Ramen Shack at a permanent location in Long Island City. The façade on the front of the shack is now attached to Shimamoto’s commercial kitchen, where you get to watch him in his element, serving eight different kinds of ramen plus three different kinds of ramen burgers. One of the specialty bowls is appropriately named The Quiet Storm (a Mobb Deep reference), a rich 13-ingredient broth with a shoyu overtone. It’s topped with slightly fatty pork chashu, spinach, menma, naruto, scallions, and the perfect lava egg that will make for great #yolkporn on Instagram.

Rebecca Fondren



The recent opening of Ichiran in Bushwick seemed like the slurp heard around the world (or at least in NYC). The first US outpost of the famous Japanese ramen chain was 10 years in the making, and on the very first day, Ichiran served over 1000 bowls. In addition to the 82-seat ramen-ya, the Bushwick location has an attached production kitchen where the noodles are made fresh daily. Ichiran is known for its classic tonkotsu (pork bone) broth, as well as those house-made noodles. But the actual act of consuming the ramen here is just as alluring as the ramen itself. It’s all about the “Ichiran System” which essentially amounts to dining with zero human interaction. You seat yourself according to a seating chart, and have the choice to slurp at a table in the communal dining room or in a private “Flavor Concentration Booth” alone (the recommended route for sure).

In the booth, you’ll face a window with a bamboo shade drawn down, and when your ramen is ready, the shade will go up as two arms pop through the window placing your ramen in front of you. Here, your ramen can be customized completely to your liking -- you’re able to choose the amounts of dashi, the richness of the broth, the amount of garlic, the spice level, and the firmness of noodle. Dining in the solo booth is sort of like forced meditation for your mind, soul, and stomach. And truly, there’s a lot to focus on. Ichiran’s broth is lighter than most pork broths yet still creamy and full of the umami flavor. The hiden no tare (spicy red paste) is a complex concoction made of 30 spices simmered to a bright-red perfection -- the additional heat makes the broth pop more. If you want your long, thin noodles al dente, check off “extra firm” on your menu ticket and you’ll experience that fun springy noodle sensation. As for how the ramen stacks up to that from the Japanese locations, let’s just say the chain has made a concerted effort to keep on par with the original. There’s even a water purification system in place to match the pH levels in Hong Kong to the dashi (soup broth) and the hiden no tare, both of which are imported straight from the production facility in Fukuoka, Japan. The only downfall here? The ramen is pretty damn expensive, at $18.90 a bowl plus tax (and toppings cost extra).

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Jordy Trachtenberg's life's mission is to find the ultimate bowl of ramen. You can join the Ramentology cult by following along on Instagram.

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Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. Ippudo 65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003 (Greenwich Village)

As the flagship (and first international) location of the acclaimed Japanese ramen empire, the East Village's Ippudo holds one of the catalyst titles for the noodle craze. Get there past 5pm and you'll bear witness to the restaurant's absurd popularity due to its ultra-rich tonkotsu pork ramen with house-made noodles, and secret "Umami Dama" in the Akamaru Modern bowl.

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2. Ippudo Westside 321 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019 (Hells Kitchen)

Although the original, East Village location of this global Japanese chain has been doling out ramen since 2008, Ippudo's Westside outpost tells its own tale. This Hell's kitchen slurp shop supplies, among other options, uniquely complex -- but nonetheless exquisite -- ultra-rich tonkotsu pork ramen and house-made noodles. And unlike its East Village sibling, Ippudo Westside also boasts a menu brimming with creative sake concoctions.

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3. Ivan Ramen 25 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002 (Lower East Side)

There’s so much more than noodles to be had at Ivan Orkin’s NYC flagship, especially at lunch when fusion sandwiches like the Herbie’s International (Chinese-style roast pork and Tokyo duck sauce on a toasted miso garlic hero) and pork meatballs make an appearance. But don’t get us wrong, there’s a reason “ramen” is the name of the game: noodle guru Ivan Orkin has fused his Long Island upbringing and Tokyo training with age-old ramen traditions to make original and delicious dishes right here at home. The weekend brunch features a combination of whole-wheat noodles, cheddar broth, crispy bacon and scallion omelet ramen.

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4. Totto Ramen 366 W 52nd St, New York, NY 10019 (Hells Kitchen)

Eating a meal at Totto Ramen is essentially like eating a meal in Tokyo -- without the air miles or baggage fees. This small ramen restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and serves up a variety of different ramen bowls and Japanese appetizers. It gets pretty crowded around dinnertime, so we suggest stopping by for lunch if you want more space to enjoy your tasty ramen bowl.

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5. Momofuku Noodle Bar 171 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003 (East Village)

Momofuku has the OG pork bun that spurred a million copycats, and it’s surprisingly simple: steamed bao, roasted belly, cucumbers, and scallions. By now, most people are familiar with David Chang's culinary empire. The chef's Midas touch has blessed diners with a slew of Momofuku-associated venues offering cocktails, pastries, and fine-dining -- but above all is his ramen. Chang worked in Japanese shops way back in the early aughts before jump-starting the NYC ramen craze in 2004, and the varieties here are loaded with pork belly and pork shoulder, smoked chicken, and veggie options with chickpea and kale.

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6. Bassanova Ramen 76 Mott St, New York, NY 10013 (Chinatown)

The interior of Bassanova Ramen on the Lower East Side (bordering Chinatown) is decidedly chic and minimalist, but don't let its ascetic decor fool you -- this highly lauded ramen joint doles out bold, intense flavors by the bowlful. The cozy, subterranean space is cash-only, and an open kitchen lets you see exactly how your meal is made. Sidle up to the counter and try its trademark dish -- green-curry ramen with a soft-boiled egg.

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7. Minca Ramen Factory 536 E 5th St, New York, NY 10009 (Alphabet City)

Minca Ramen Factory is a tiny ramen spot in Alphabet City that delivers top-knotch, soul-satisfying noodle soup without the hype (and crowds) of Ippudo and Momofuku. Minca opened around the same time as Momofuku and has developed an under-the-radar following for its signature half-pork, half-chicken broth, as well as its noodle varieties (choose between thin, thick, wavy, or whole wheat). The house-made gyoza, filled with pork or shrimp, are pan-fried to perfection. Note that it's cash-only.

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8. Chuko 552 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238

Created by three Morimoto vets, this Prospect Heights noodle nook slings some of the city's best ramen. Chuko offers a few varieties of ramen, from classic miso, pork, and chicken broths to the more fusion kimchi version with ground pork, scallion, and egg. The steamed pork buns are solid appetizers, but the fried Brussels sprouts with fish sauce and peanuts, and the miso-dressed kale salad with crispy sweet potato, are welcome complements to the silky, steaming entrees.

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9. Okonomi 150 Ainslie St, Brooklyn, NY 11211 (Williamsburg)

For breakfast and lunch, this quaint Williamsburg spot specializes in ichiju‑sansai, a traditional Japanese set meal consisting of grilled fish, rice, miso soup, and vegetable sides. On weeknights, it turns into a casual à la carte ramen-ya where the seafood broth is made from the daytime meal’s leftovers. The 12-seat space gets more intimate and upscale on Saturdays and Sundays, when the chef unveils his weekend ramen tasting menu.

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10. Dassara 271 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11231

Dressed up with graffiti and a sake bottle chandelier, Dassara serves up off-the-wall "Brooklyn ramen" in which the noodles are really just a canvas for getting creative with toppings, like the experimental matzo balls and Mile End smoked meat-laden bowl. The bar is just as eclectic, producing riffs on classic cocktails like margaritas that feature sake or shochu.

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11. Takashi 456 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014 (West Village)

All beef, all night. Well sorta. Hit up this spot for the perfect part-Korean, part-Japanese dish featuring both Japanese and American Angus -- tongues, intestines, and anything else you can imagine -- grilled at your table. On the weekends, chow down on an influx of ramen while reading about the health benefits of the various slices of meat you might gorge yourself on via a wall mural.