NYCGuide

The Best Ramen In NYC

Where to go when you want something better than a block of dried noodles and a powder-filled foil packet.
The Best Ramen In NYC image

photo credit: Ichiran

Yes, you can technically cook ramen at home in three to four minutes, but slurping some broth that takes hours—even days—to make is a whole different experience. New kinds of ramen seem to be popping up in the city each week, made with everything from brisket and wagyu beef to bone marrow and black garlic oil. Save those instant noodles in your pantry for the next time you forget to buy groceries, and head to one of these places instead.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Okiboru House of Tsukemen

Ramen

Lower East Side

$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight DinnerDining SoloLunchQuick Eats
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If you see a line of people on the sidewalk around Orchard and Delancey, it’s probably for Okiboru. Even if you’re not in the mood for noodles, go ahead and join. At this LES ramen shop, the namesake tsukemen comes with udon-like cold noodles that you dip in a warm broth, which tastes like it’s made with a million bonito flakes. The soupy ramen, which is just as good, is made with a super rich, milky broth that'll immediately conjure images of pork bones in your head. We overheard someone ask their friend: “How was it?” Response: “It was bomb.” We agree.

Kohoku-Ku ramen is a tiny restaurant in Hell's Kitchen filled with colorful paper lanterns, makeshift seating made from repurposed Suntory crates, and a very fun bathroom. If you like your ramen broth incredibly thick and rich, you'll love the soup here, which borders on gravy. The Kumamoto, made with an ultra-concentrated pork and black garlic broth, is our go-to order here, but the spicy miso and grilled mackerel options are great, too. The menu also covers all the classic izakaya dishes, like yakitori, curry rice and karaage. It's pretty close to Times Square, but far enough away from the action that you can use this as a non-touristy pre-theater option.

You’ll find some of the more inventive bowls of ramen in New York at Karazishi Botan, which was opened by the former ramen master at Ippudo. The signature Pan Head, made with a pork and miso broth, and straightforward toppings like chashu and bamboo, is assertively salty. Other options change often, but we once had a chicken-based ramen that came with a scoop of mashed potatoes and a shot glass of lemon juice on the side. It was a wild ride.

You’ll have to sit shoulder-to-shoulder with your neighbors to eat at this teeny-tiny LES ramen spot, but their shoyu and miso ramen are totally worth it. The thick, chewy noodles wrap around each slab of fatty pork like an octopus gripping onto its prey, and the broth is flavorful enough to function as full-on aromatherapy. Despite there being only eight seats in the cramped space, you rarely end up waiting more than 10 minutes to sit, and no one will rush you. Take your time and order some appetizers, too. We sometimes stop by just for pork buns and karaage.

The broth at this East Village ramen shop smells like an essential oil diffuser that’s loaded with pure pig essence. The noodles are on the thinner side, and a few slices of straightforward chashu, green onions, and pickled ginger complete the bowl. Unlike some ramen places with more options than an old jukebox, Rockmeisha serves just one kind of soup (though they do have an old jukebox, and speakers blasting classic rock). Also unlike some other places, their Hakata-style ramen isn’t bogged down by a broth that’s overly sweet, or too thick just for the sake of it—and though Rockmeisha recommends pairing a bowl with some cold beer, we wish they’d let us order pitchers of that liquid pork essence as well. 

The East Coast outpost of this popular San Francisco ramen shop is one of the better options for a quick bowl of noodles in the East Village. Tonkotsu ramen is their speciality, and the pork broth here is some of the richest, creamiest we’ve had. The Hakata Tonkotsu DX version comes with not one but two kinds of pork belly, both meltingly tender and deeply spiced, as well as corn, nori, and a very perfect soft-boiled seasoned egg. The noodles are of the thin variety, and they have a pleasantly chewy texture.

Tucked away inside the Wyndham Garden Chinatown hotel, this place isn’t the easiest to find, but that’s good (for you) because it keeps the crowds away. Stop by for a bowl of Shinka’s bone marrow ramen with murky, beefy broth. It comes with well-marbled slices of brisket, tons of garlic chips, discs of daikon, and a big bone sawed in half so you can scoop out all the marrow to make the broth even richer.

Ichiran is a Japanese chain with locations in Bushwick, Midtown and Times Square where you can eat your ramen in a “flavor concentration booth.” Think of it as a study carrel in a college library, but for solo ramen eating. Ordering here is done by filling out a form and pressing a button, so human interaction is minimal. If you’re afraid of loneliness, you can eat in an actual dining room (or just lower the partition between booths). The highly customizable ramen is solid, and the overall experience makes this place worth visiting at least once.

We once walked a mile on the coldest day of the year to get to Chuko. We’re not necessarily recommending this, but if you find yourself around Prospect Heights with a full body chill, there is no better solution than a massive bowl of expertly created broth at this corner spot on Vanderbilt Ave. The ramen is a bit of a choose-your-own adventure: pick your broth (we like the miso), and then decide on additional add-ons. Follow your instincts here, but make sure your instincts include the “rayu” garlic chili oil, guaranteed to solve any late-fall sniffles.

Minca’s cramped dining room is situated around an open kitchen, with hot steam constantly flowing through the space. It’s perfect for a soothing solo meal or casual date night in the East Village when you don't want it to seem like you’re trying too hard. We love that you can get a bowl made with half pork and half chicken broth, and the tsukemen here is particularly great. The daikon salad, a mountain of shredded radish drenched in sesame sauce, is one of our favorite ways to eat that particular vegetable.

Known mostly for their creative cocktails, which combine things like whiskey and seaweed, this bar and ramen joint is an uptown favorite for catching up with friends in Hamilton Heights. But beyond the cocktails, served in an assortment of charming ceramics, this warmly lit basement on Broadway also has some very respectable ramen on its menu. The vegetarian one, with shiitake-based broth, is almost as rich as the Kyoto-style ramen, and we also like the briny, soupless sea urchin and salmon caviar ramen. You can also get a bunch of oysters, and smaller bites, like karaage.

Tonchin is a busy place. It is so busy, in fact, that if you try to make a dinner reservation at their Midtown location there will probably be nothing available for the foreseeable future. But that’s why you should go to Tonchin for lunch. There are tables for groups in the back, in case your coworkers realize that a ramen lunch is the best idea you’ve ever had, and a bar up front for a quick solo meal. Get the $25 lunch special with the classic tonkotsu ramen and an unagi rice ball, and end with an enormous matcha shaved ice.

photo credit: Noah Devereaux

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Will Ivan Ramen’s Spicy Red Chili Ramen burn a hole in your esophagus? Don’t worry about that now. For the time being, just eat your way through this very hot ramen until tears drip down your face. They do have non-spicy options too, and the lively Lower East Side space is a fun place for a small group dinner. They also do delivery from a shared kitchen in Brooklyn, if you need to eat your Spicy Red Chili Ramen alone at home.

The rich, porky ramen at Ippudo is still one of the best bowls of noodle soup one can eat in New York City. There are three locations around the city, but we prefer the original East Village location, which has absurdly long waits much of the time. Consider making a solo pilgrimage, or just tell your boss you have to leave work at 4pm for a doctor’s appointment. Their pork buns are a must-order as well.

Totto Ramen opened in the summer of 2010, right in the heat of what we'll call "The Great Ramen Awakening." At one point we’re pretty sure you could get tonkotsu lattes at Starbucks. Now, this casual ramen spot specializing in chicken-based broth with thin noodles has locations in Midtown West and Hell’s Kitchen. The style of ramen lies somewhere in between the porky excessiveness of Ippudo and the basic, hangover curing magic of more traditional spots like Rai Rai Ken. And it’s always satisfying, especially for lunch.

From the same people behind ROKC, NR has a similar menu, with ramen ranging from simple Kyoto and Sapporo-style bowls to more unique options like a soupless ramen made with wagyu beef and bone marrow. And while you might raise an eyebrow at a bowl of noodles that sounds like stunt food, you don’t have to worry about that here. Everything at this UES spot is great. Just go with what your heart wants.

If you’re looking for a relatively rare bowl of ramen, head to E.A.K, which has locations in the West Village, Hell’s Kitchen, and inside the Moynihan hall at Penn Station. Their iekei-style ramen comes with a broth made from chicken and pork bones (in addition to shoyu tare), with thick, spaghetti-like noodles and spinach instead of scallions. The result is a salty, milky, and rich broth that looks like cream of chicken soup. We have no complaints about the namesake E.A.K. Shoyu bowl—except that the chashu is among the best we’ve had, and only two small slices are included. Get extra.

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