Totto Ramen - New York, NY

If you recall a few years back I did a little write up for Yakitori Totto. Well this is their sister restaurant that serves up quick hot bowls of Japanese ramen noodles.

The small restaurant is below street level and could easily go unnoticed if it wasn't for the line that is waiting on the tiny New York sidewalk. They don't take reservations, and they don't take anything but cash so come prepared.

As soon as we're seated the guy's at the front door arranging seating is asking us what we want to drink and if we know what we want already. It's fast, it's efficient, it's Japanese ramen.

The two cooks behind the counter have their work cut out for them in this tiny little noodle shop. The noodle guy is warming up fresh egg noodles while he's also charing the pork belly. The other cook is assembling the bowls with the garnish as soon as the noodles come out of the water. I feel like these guys have it down to a science.

I order a bowl of Totto extra spicy ramen with pork and a side of char siu pork and a side of spicy bamboo shoots. You know I had to order more for the sake of variety right? I also ordered a miso ramen and my friend got the extra spicy ramen with chicken. Everything was great, but I'd probably go without the spicy bamboo shoots next time.

--Joe

Suzu - San Francisco, CA

I happened upon this spot while we were in San Francisco for The Fillmore show. Playing a couple days in a town always makes for a nice time on the eating front for me. I actually get the time to go explore areas that I would otherwise not have the time to do. My friends Cat and Zack came along on my quest to find a noodle shop and we came across this place, Suzu.

Karaage - Japanese Fried Chicken
I'm a sucker for any sort of fried chicken, karaage happens to be one of my favorite fashions. The japanese really know how to do a nice crispy, light and flakey outside.

Shrimp and Veggie Tempura
Tempura is just any sort of battered veggie or protein usually dusted with panko, a Japanese bread crumb. It's too often that you get tempura that is over cooked, undercooked, soggy, tasteless, cold, or any other number of travesties that can ruin a good tempura. I was pretty shocked at the lightness and clean flavor that I found here. To be honest with you it may have just been luck. A combination of a lot of variables, and the planets lining up for me at that very moment.

Pork Ramen - Japanese noodle soup
The noodle soup exceeded my expectations and fulfilled my itch for noodle satiation. The noodles were nice and chewy and not over cooked and the broth was rich and hot. You can't go wrong with the chicken ramen or the miso ramen here. Make sure to add plenty of hot pepper because it only enhances the flavor!

Cheers,
--Joe Kwon

For more info on this restaurant click here.