Totto Ramen East
This city needs more ramen restaurants like it needs more privileged people. But guess what? We're getting more of both anyway. At least on the ramen front, the right kind of restaurants seem to be the ones multiplying. I'm not sure we can say so much for the additional humans.
Totto Ramen is most definitely the right kind of ramen - at least for our tastes. This Midtown East location brings the chain's New York City count to three, and all of them have the same vibe - a cool (often tiny) room, good music, and very nice people. The food is pretty damn excellent too.
Here on East 52nd Street, Totto is situated directly under Hide Chan, another Infatuation go-to for ramen - especially for late night. The curious thing is that Hide Chan is also owned by the same group that owns Totto. So they are either hoping that the competition makes both restaurants better, or they're taking the NYC real estate approach to their expansion and just building sh*t wherever they can find a space. Either way, it'll probably work.
Our plan is to keep frequenting both Hide Chan and Totto, using each for different needs. Hide Chan will always be the place we head for when a 2am shot of hot pork broth is necessary (often). This location of Totto will be our spot for daytime ramen anytime life calls for lunch on the east side of Midtown (hopefully not that often).
As for how you'll use them, that's up to you. Navigate them in such a way that they'll serve your needs. Much like you would when it comes to all these people.
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The classic bowl of Totto ramen, which has a chicken-based broth as opposed to pork. The noodles are home made and delicious, and this is a tad lighter than your typical tonktotsu (pork bone broth) ramen. It's very good, but we tend to go for the spicy version.
The Paitan Ramen, but with spicy chili sauce and spicy sesame oil added into the mix. The burn ain't so bad, and the flavor upgrade is significant.
This one has a spicy fish-flavored chili oil in the mix, which puts a different flavor on the bowl that's a bit richer. We like it, but not enough to get us off the Spicy Ramen.
Skip 'em. Put some extra Char Siu in your bowl of soup instead.