Not long after moving to New York Husband and I discovered that NY is packed with numerous ramen restaurants. I really like ramen soup, but Husband LOVES it. We tried several restaurants over the last two years, but not enough. See, if you google “best ramen NYC” about a million links come up with lists and lists of the best ramen ever. If you know anything about us, you know that we attempted to try all of the “best” ramen locations.
The problem is that every single ramen place in the city is teeny, does not take reservations and always has a long line of people out the door waiting for a table. The wait for these restaurants is always somewhere between 1 and 4 hours. Who has that kind of time?! Not us.
When Husband came to visit me last week we decided that for once we had the time. We decided to try Totto Ramen because it has excellent reviews and won some sort of ramen awards or something. We met our friend Dan, and camped outside the restaurant for a good two hours before our name was called…and by called I mean whispered.
The protocol for getting a table at Totto is to arrive early, write your name on a list hanging on the door and then wait on the sidewalk with about 60 other hungry New Yorkers. Every ten minutes or so one of the workers will open the door, grab the list and very quietly call someone’s name. If no one responds, the name is crossed off the list and he moves on to the next person. He is so quiet and serious that every time the door opens the entire crowd goes silent and simultaneously leans one ear in as far as possible hoping to hear their name.
When our moment came we quickly found our way in, and were seated at the bar right by the door, which remained propped open. This wouldn’t have been a problem except that it was raining and 40 degrees outside (in May, yes). We shivered as we ordered our soup and appetizers, praying that the food would be worth the wait and the numb extremities.
The boys ordered pork and beef sticky buns, which they repeatedly told me were “sooo good”. We all shared the tuna tartare, which was probably the best I’ve ever had.
Then, came the soup. The boys both ordered miso ramen with some sort of spicy sauce on the side. I ordered the spicy vegetable ramen. Every ramen place we’ve tried has exactly one option for vegetarians: the vegetable ramen. It is always bland and boring. This spicy vegetable ramen, was nothing like the previous places I’ve tried. It was the best ramen I have ever had.
Turns out that Totto is worth a two-hour wait in terrible weather. It’s even worth eating by an open door. I’d eat it in a house, I’d eat it with a mouse…I’d eat it here or there, I’ll eat Totto Ramen anywhere!
It was Husband’s last night before heading back to Nashville and I’m happy to say he left satisfied.