I’m not a ramen expert. I’ve never been to Japan. But I love Asian food, and the few experiences with ramen bars I’ve had here in New York City have been positive. I’m a huge fan of Momofuku. Probably because I love pork, and they do pork pretty darn well. Reading alot of the Momofuku backlash on places like Chowhound has gotten me well acquainted with what ramen afficianados consider more traditional ramen places in New York City. The truth is for someone just looking for decent lunch in Midtown, all three Midtown recommendations will yield delicious food. In fact I find it hard to compare three places that are all really good- but there are some small differences that may make a difference to different people.
One of the three places is right next to my office, and I wrote about it a few weeks ago. Sapporo. Highly recommended, and considered pretty authentic, many people claim it is the closest thing to a real Japanese ramen place. I enjoyed my lunch there, and I’ll definitely recommend it and eat there again. But for some people, Sapporo might be a far walk, or a little too authentic (i.e. dirty) and the ingredients are on the cheap side. So with that in mind, you have another option: Men Kui Tei on 56th between 5th & 6th ave.
In comparison to Sapporo, Men Kui Tei is definitely a more “business” environment. The decor is a little nicer (if that’s what you’re into), but it’s also a lot smaller, and fills up much easier (a big drawback if you are in a rush and don’t get there early enough). In fact, we got there at 12:15pm, and still have to wait 5 minutes for a table. By the time we left at 12:50, there were about 8-10 people lined up along the wall inside the doorway. I would definitely recommend getting there early. In fact, they even offer an Early Bird special. Get there before 12:15pm and an order of Gyoza are $2.50 (instead of $4) and the “Set Menu” Curry Rice or Fried Rice is $1.50 (instead of $3.00).
Pictures of what we got, and the +/- after the jump…
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Posted by Zach at 12:36 pm, July 26th, 2006 under 56th btw. 5+6th, Japanese, Men Kui Tei.