HinoMaru’s Lucky Cat Ramen is Good for the Hood
Midtown East is battling the behemoth that is the Midtown West Ramen Scene. Some may argue that Ippuddo West, Totto Ramen and Ivan Ramen Slurp shop are the best that New York City has to offer. So what’s one to do if they work in midtown east? Sure, there’s Hide-Chan with it’s dizzying amount of ramen varieties or you can trek through the snow and Polar Vortex past 8th avenue to the big boys. If none of that sounds appealing, enter Lucky Cat.
Lucky Cat is a brand spanking new ramen joint that just opened on East 53rd from the owners of HinoMaru in Astoria. For lunch, they offer 7 very different types of ramen that run the gamut from the standard Tonkotsu to “Yassai” (potato broth w/vegetables), “Kaiden” (clam broth with chicken, crab, mussels, shrimp and squid), etc. The ramen varies in price from $9-13.
Naturally, on your virgin experience the waitress will likely recommended their namesake “Lucky Cat” ramen which is a Tonkotsu pork-based broth with spicy miso and chili oil. This “Creamy pork broth” bowl comes with “Chofutome” (extra thick noodles), flavor boiled egg, chashu, scallion, menma, spicy miso and chili oil. If you’re a noodle type, you’ll be happy to know that there is a nice bit of chew on the noodle. If you’re all about the pork, it was torched on one side to give it that charred/smokey flavor. If that’s your major draw to Totto, then you should like this option. The bowl had enough heat to notice but not overwhelm. For the lunch set, they also give you the option to add a small salad, and a half order of gyoza/karaage for $3. I went with the gyoza which were cooked well, had decent amount of flavor without being too greasy. The salad wasn’t much of anything and seemed like an after thought.
Besides ramen, Lucky Cat has a lot of Japanese pub fare like Gyoza, Karaage, Kusiyaki (dinner), yaki-buns (dinner), etc. For lunch they offer numerous Donburi and rice bowls to choose from like: Spicy Tuna, braised pork, fresh water eel and mountain potato, salmon roe and tofu, etc.
The best part about this place right now is that there is no wait to get in and the staff is friendly and attentive, which is a huge positive for the NYC ramen world. Hopefully, that will last. It’s also much more of a restaurant feel then a classic ramen-ya, offering more izakaya-style fare in addition to the 7 types of ramen. Was this the orgasmic, transportive bowl of ramen you’re looking for? Perhaps not. However, if you live and/or work in the area, and have a craving for incredibly solid and well cooked Japanese fare, including ramen, then this palce is for you. It’s a great new addition to Midtown East.
Lucky Cat Ramen, 232 E 53rd St. (btw 2+3rd)