Although it seems like ramen has not been on the radar these last couple of weeks, it is the only thing I dream about. For stop #8 on the Great New York Ramen Tour, we got our slurp on at Totto Ramen.
Our Rating out of 5:
This is one of my favorite ramen places and it never disappoints. I was so happy to be able to bring the gang here. Totto Ramen has 3 different locations here in NY, but I tend to go to the one on the Upper East Side. They also have 1 location in Boston, 1 in Sommerville, MA, and then 1 in Tapei, Taiwan. Go figure!
First off, lets explain the deliciousness of paitan. Paitan, in short, means a milky or white broth. In the case of Totto's Spicy Paitan, they use chicken bone instead of the typical pork bone as this is based on their Chicken Paitan ramen. This consists of julienned scallions, garlic, nori, bean sprouts, char siu pork, and spicy sesame oil. The spicy sesame oil definitely gives it an edge but it is not fire-hot. So if you are concerned, I recommend getting this on the side. The boiled egg, which is extra but always critical, is expertly seasoned and just runny enough to get incorporated into the broth, but definitely not raw. Love it! My mouth is watering! The main events are the noodles and the broth in this dish. The broth is so flavorful. It is not too salty or fatty, but has the exact amount of both that it needs. Sometimes when you get chicken based ramens you think the broth will be lackluster or just plain-old "basic", but it really isn't here. When I tried this for the first time, I was "nervous" that it wouldn't satisfy my ramen cravings; however, now I frequently crave this broth and wish I could eat it every day if it wouldn't make me gain a trillion pounds. They serve 2 different kinds of noodles and they are both fantastic. One is a thin noodle, very similar to any thin noodle that you might have and then a wavy noodle. The wavy noodle is where it is AT. It is not too thick like some wavy noodles. It really holds onto the flavor of the broth and some of the toppings. I am always a fan of noodles with texture because I think it really helps grasp onto the other flavors more than thin and straight noodles. One thing I will say is that the pork this time was not on par with how it usually is. It was a little bland and slightly burned. This is the first time we've experienced this at Totto; so, I'm not holding it against them because we've eaten there sooo many times before and we normally love their pork.
Totto's Taiwan Paitan hasn't always been on their menu. In fact, I only remember seeing it the last few times we've gone. So, this time Ryan decided to give it a try just to shake it up a bit. We've never seen it at any other ramen joints so, we aren't sure if it's unique to Totto, but at the very least it's less common. After a couple of sips, Ryan declared he would never be ordering the Spicy Paitan again, and, as one of his favorite ramens, that is saying a lot! It has a lot of similarities to the Spicy Paitan. It's a chicken broth with wavy noodles, spicy ground chicken, scallions, garlic, bean sprouts, chili threads and he added a seasoned egg. The broth was substantially thicker than their regular paitan and it had a silky smooth texture that was reminiscent of runny egg yolks, except it wasn't yolk it was broth..! It had a very rich chicken flavor that was even more intense than their regular paitan, if that's possible. The ground spicy chicken had a perfect amount of spice to compliment the broth resulting in incredibly balanced sip. Sometimes ground meats in ramen are ground too finely and there isn't anything to really chew, but that was not the case with the ground chicken. It had chunks that were just big enough to satisfy Ryan's carnivorous cravings. The noodles were perfectly chewy and really went well with the thicker texture of the broth. The scallions and garlic gave it a nice accent and the bean sprouts added a nice crunchy contrast. Ryan's only critique of the bowl was that the egg yolk was little too cooked and he prefers his yolk runny so the yolk really blends with the broth, but fortunately he didn't really miss it since the broth was so thick to begin with.
Lastly, Totto also offers a vegetarian ramen, so if you are a vegetarian you should check it out and let us know how it is. We can't recommend Totto enough! It secured a place in our top 5 long ago and, even with the atypical chashu disappointment, overall this visit reinforced its standing in our top 5.
Totto Ramen Address
248 E 52nd St, New York, NY 10022
is a New Yorker who, when she isn't day dreaming about ramen, works as a producer for film and TV. She is absolutely terrible at using chopsticks properly, but gets the job done. Her go to ramen order: Tonkotsu with thick noodles, extra corn and scallions.