One of the best things about living in New York City is that it is full of different people who have moved here from all across the world. With them, people have brought pieces of themselves, their culture and (most important of all) their food! Whether it’s Italian or Greek, Korean or Mexican, you name it, New York has it, and with each new restaurant comes a new dining experience for local New Yorkers.
Of the many types of foods I’ve tried since moving here, there’s no food I’ve taken greater joy in discovering than the Japanese dish of ramen. What is ramen? Ramen is a dish that is made up of noodles served in a meat or fish-based broth, flavoured with soy sauce or miso, and uses a variety of toppings such as sliced pork, chicken, dried seaweed, and green onions. The combination of flavours varies from dish to dish, is customisable to different tastes, and the rich broth that comes with the noodles makes for both a spectacular winter warmer and amazing hangover food. For those of you who are visiting New York and want to try this delicious dish, here are my top five recommendations for places to try in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
If you have never tried ramen before, then Ivan Ramen is the perfect introduction. Found on the Lower East Side (LES) of Manhattan, this restaurant boasts the ideal American-Japanese fusion of the delectable dish. Ivan Ramen is the brainchild of American chef, Ivan Orkin, who after opening not one but two successful ramen spots in Tokyo, Japan, decided to return to his native New York City to open a restaurant in downtown Manhattan. The resulting blend of American ingredients with Japanese tradition is so good, it was even featured on the Netflix show ‘Chef’s Table’ and has earned Ivan Ramen a mention in the MICHELIN Guide 2018. Better yet, if you’re a fan of craft beers, Ivan Ramen has a great range for you to choose from.
A couple of blocks away from Ivan Ramen is a personal favourite of mine, Ramen Ishida. This place is fairly new to the NYC ramen scene, having only opened few months ago. What I appreciate most about this place is the authenticity of the restaurant — it is small, intimate, and you eat at high bar tables on stools, replicating the way that many ramen restaurants are set up in Japan. Better yet, they deliver, providing you with the option to spend a cozy night in with friends eating ramen and watching movies if you want to. Try the Spicy Mushroom Ramen with Pork for just $13.00 (pictured above!) — you won’t regret it.
Momosan Ramen & Sake
If you’re looking for quality ramen at a reasonable price, look no further than Momosan Ramen & Sake. At Momosan, Chef Morimoto (known on TV as the ‘Iron Chef’ in both Japan and America) has created a casual dining experience where those of us on a budget can also experience the high-calibre cooking he is known for. Noodles are the main feature on the menu, but don’t forget to mix and match each ramen bowl with some of the delicious side dishes and sake (a type of Japanese rice wine) on offer!
Located in Bushwick, Brooklyn, Ichiran NY is one of the most interesting dining experiences I’ve ever had. You enter, are seated in an individual booth, and are given a menu card with squares where you tick off the ingredients on the menu you want to add to your dish. You pass the menu back under a sliding door attached to your booth. Not long after, your ramen dish appears hot and steaming (with a delectable egg or two) from behind the very same sliding door. This restaurant is one of the biggest chain ramen restaurants in Japan, and the Bushwick venue is one of its first U.S. restaurants, and it’s also one of the top-rated. Try it here, then try it in Tokyo!
Ryujin Ramen Brooklyn
Last but not least, Ryujin Ramen Brooklyn is a hidden gem in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Williamsburg is a popular hipster haunt. Usually the best restaurants here are swarming with customers and have lines that last for hours on end. However, if you wander off the beaten track, you can find some quieter restaurants where you can have dinner in peace and enjoy a delicious dish of ramen with no decline in quality. For me, Ryujin Ramen Brooklyn epitomises this. It has everything you could want from your local ramen spot: it’s cozy, quiet, and great for conversation. Go with a friend, order a bowl each, and split a bottle of sake — bliss.
FYI — all of the photos of the ramen featured here were taken by me, and I am in no way a food photographer! They really do taste as good as they look!