Yakitori Totto’s New Beef Ramen In the Running For Best in Midtown
Midtown lunchers have better things to do than wait an interminable amount of time for a bowl of (admittedly amazing) ramen at Totto Ramen. After I discovered Totto, my previous favorites, Minca and Ippudo became all but distant memories. Others raved about the lovely springy noodles and amazing chicken broth. But quality begets reputation, a flood of customers, and the inevitable line around the block, and as such, the wait and the cramped dining room seriously detract from the overall experience.
Enter Yakitori Totto (on 55th btw. B’way+8th), which recently put ramen on their menu for $9, alongside their other well regarded lunch specials. We already know that the Totto empire, which includes hit-or-miss spot, Hide Chan, knows their noodles, but how will this new dish stack up against the rest?
In short, this bowl of ramen is easily on par with the product found a few blocks south. Instead of pork or chicken, this ramen is focused on beef. The paitan broth is beef based and assertively viscous with a zesty layer of spicy sesame oil. And instead of that lovely char siu at Totto Ramen, Yakitori Totto flaunts a generous amount of unbelievably tender beef short rib, nestled into the springy and pliant noodles. The only hole one could poke in this preparation is its richness – the braised short rib isn’t trimmed of its connective tissue and fat, and the broth was flush with outrageously opulent collagen and rendered fat. However if you’re a fan of the thicker, richer paitan broths, you’re going to love this dish.
For your $9, you also get a salad, which on my visit was as fresh and crispy as it was unremarkable. But it’s a gesture that you’ll appreciate, and it bumps this lunch up from a good value to a fantastic bargain. Throw in the fact that you’re lunching in a cool, dark, serene dining room as opposed to the sweaty and cramped hot mess at Totto Ramen, as well as the fact that there is never (at least for now) a wait for tables at Yakitori Totto during lunch, and you may just well have a new favorite ramen spot in Midtown. I know I’ve certainly found mine.