Totto Ramen had been on my list of must-visit places for months – ok, actually years, it’s been open since 2010. There’s only been one problem: this tiny ramen counter has been packed every night since the first customer took a slurp. Luckily, if you can visit during the middle of the weekday, it’s a little easier to navigate. I still had to wait, but only about 15 minutes as compared to 45 to 60 minutes in the evening.
The broth is the key here. Carefully made on giant pots behind the counter, Totto Ramen specializes in a full-flavored chicken stock that’s topped with chicken pieces or juicy pork slices cooked with a blowtorch. I chose a bowl of chicken paitan ramen with a side of spicy sauce that had plenty of fire but also a little crunch for a unique texture.
With a seat at the minuscule counter, I had a perfect view of the busy staff in action. They were constantly scooping broth, torching meat, and getting bowls lined up for the new tickets coming in. I didn’t even pull out my book, it was so entertaining. After I complimented their craft, the chefs were very gracious and thanked me profusely. After the experience, the New York vibe on the streets outside felt just a little warmer.