Totto Ramen: MEGA PAITAN RAMEN (NYC)

Address: 464 W. 51st Street (between 9th & 10th), NYC, 10019

Website: http://tottoramen.com

Ramen: Mega Chicken Paitan ($16) with extra Egg ($2) & Extra Spicy Rayu ($2)

Price: $20

REVIEW: It’s a tiny, hot hole in the wall in Hell’s Kitchen but the Mega Paitan Ramen was honestly the first bowl of ramen I couldn’t finish without my stomach bursting, it was that large. Known as the “bestseller” on the menu, this monster bowl of goodness starts with Totto’s house Chicken Paitan broth but then has not one, not two, not three but four different types of pork added to it: Chair Siu slices, pulled Char Siu, pork belly & ground pork. I added a heaping cup of “Extra Spicy Rayu” to the broth that gave it an excellent lingering heat without taking away from the rich broth. The egg itself was excellent, the cabbage crisp, the garlic pungent and overall, it was a flavor extravaganza that I for one could not finish. Probably too much to tackle for someone looking for a regular bowl of noodles (its a lot of pork and a big portion), so unless you want to climb a mountain, I’d stick with Totto’s regular options rather than taking on the Mega Paitan Ramen!

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SCORE: rating_4

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TSUJITA: Char Siu Tsukemen Ramen (LA)

There I was, in LA, again and as always, Ramen was on the brain. This time we were in a different part of the city and a quick review of Yelp led us to the highly rated TSUJITA LA ARTISAN NOODLE joint. We arrived around 11am and were met with a huge line out front waiting patiently in the sun. 25 minutes later we were seated inside a small but bustling room, smelling of deep flavors and mouth-watering expectations.

Now, the specialty of the house is Tsukemen Ramen, think of it as a “deconstructed” type of ramen where the broth is seperated from the noodles and accouterments. I have never tried this style of ramen and to be honest, I was confused by their description: “We slowly simmer the tonkotsu soup for 60 hours then add the seafood for sweetness and thick tastiness”. Pork & Seasfood? Hmm, not my first choice of combined flavors but those reviews, those line-ups, those smells and add to that, I write reviews for a Ramen blog, I gots to try this. So I ordered the Char Siu Tsukemen Ramen and threw my personal caution to the wind.

Within minutes I was met with two glorious bowls of rameny goodness. The first brimming with homemade noodles, lime and fresh “char siu” pork. That alone had me salivating but then there was bowl #2, a thick, rich, complex looking broth that smelled insane. This was the tonkotsu/seafood broth that made this place so popular and after the first bite, I was sold. Unlike anything I’ve ever tasted, this was a broth worth basing a restaurant over, for sure – pork & seafood together works, trust me! But the broth alone does not make this dish a winner, no, no! It’s a combination of things that make this work.

First off, the lime is there for a reason. Squeeze it onto the noodles before you dip them into the broth for a nice kick of citrus that slightly cuts through the richness of the flavor. Also, crack that egg son! The egg, one of the best i’ve had in any ramen anywhere, lets the yolk mingle in with the noodles and brother first another level of tasty complexity. This is not just ramen people, this is a food adventure! This is definitely a meal that changes its flavor with each and every bite, I loved every minute of it. The best part? Free refills of noodles and Tonkotsu broth – boom!

While trepidatious at first, I’m glad I took the plunge and ordered the Char Siu Tsukemen Ramen, it was in all honesty, the most unique and flavorful ramen adventures I’ve been on yet. Everything was top notch, the richly complex broth, the homemade noodles, the tender pork and that unbelievable egg. Im sure Tsukemen ramen is not for everyone but I highly recommend giving it a shot if you are near TSUJITA LA, it’s worth a visit to make your belly very, very happy.

Tsujita

Dish: Char Siu Tsukemen Ramen
Location: Tsujita LA
Address: 2057 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025
Price $13.95
Rating: rating_5