Comfort foods defy cultural categorization—a point made evident by New York’s obsession with this Japanese soup staple. Locals here rave over ramen, a slurp-worthy noodle soup hailing from Japan. Here are the nine best restaurants to enjoy a taste of Japan in New York City.
Only in New York can a self-described “Jewish kid from Long Island” open one of the city’s most acclaimed Japanese restaurants. At Lower East Side hot spot Ivan Ramen, Japan’s staple soup takes on a New York twist. Daring diners can expect unusual ingredients here, such as smashed egg, ahi tuna “sashimi,” yuzu-dashi, and more.
The combination of Hide-Chan Ramen’s luxe atmosphere and low prices is a recipe for success. Judging by its swarms of soup-slurping locals, the restaurant boasts more than just one winning recipe. Rich ramen dishes in such varieties as miso and spicy garlic feature unusual add-ons, such as cod roe, garlic chips, and more.
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YUJI Ramen | Courtesy of YUJI Ramen, credit: Shin-yokohama Ramen Museum
It should come as no surprise that one of the city’s hottest ramen spots calls Brooklyn’s trendy Williamsburg area home. Fresh toppings and seafood-based broths are the focus at Yuji Ramen, an eatery known for quirky creations such as bacon and egg ramen, tonkotsu-style tuna broth, and sea urchin and clam lip toppings. Tip: don’t miss Yuji’s mazemen, a broth-less brand of ramen earning the spot acclaim.
Sun Noodle's Miso Ramen | Courtesy of Sun Noodle / Ramen Lab
Of course, New York City has a “showcase ramen shop.” At Ramen Lab, “craft ramen” is what’s on the (ever-evolving) menu, which has been known to feature out-there ingredients such as lobster oil and pork ribs. A rotating cast of chefs and an affiliation with artisan noodle-giant Sun Noodle ensure every experience at the Lab is as fresh as it is flavorful.
At its locations in New York City, Taiwan, and Boston, Totto Ramen puts a global spin on a Japanese staple. Here, interpretations of miso, chicken, and vegetable ramen come topped with seasoned avocado, char siu pork, and more internationally inspired ingredients.
Trust the spot’s nearly 9,000 Yelp reviews, and run, don’t walk, to Ippudo. From Sydney to Singapore to two locations in New York City, this “ramen noodle brasserie” delivers Japanese soul food to the world. Wasabi, minty cilantro, and vegetarian sesame ramen are only a sampling of Ippudo’s various avant-garde eats.
Like your ramen with a side of solitude? Thanks to Japanese chain Ichiran, which comes equipped with individual dining booths, you can enjoy your soup sans disturbances. By removing pesky distractions, Ichiran invites you to savor its famous tonkotsu, focusing solely on the flavor in front of you.
Serious foodies flock to Chuko, a self-described “brainchild of three ramen geeks” specializing in creative concoctions. Locations in Brooklyn’s Bushwick and Prospect Heights cater to a trendy clientele with veggie tofu and lime, kimchi and spicy pork, and pork bone and mustard greens ramen varieties.
At its two New York City locations, Ramen-Ya commits itself to “mastering the way of Ramen.” Sampling its menu, we’d call the spot’s mission completed. Soy sauce broth, black garlic oil, and creamy kale ramen set this Samurai apart from the rest of the city’s slurp shops.