Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The End of the Great Ramen Debate?

My brother and I have been debating over which Japanese noodle joint in NYC is the best. We have visited both Ramen Setagaya and Ippudo, supposedly the two best picks in the city because they are ramen chains straight from Japan. Surprisingly, we agreed on most of the points, the biggest of which is Ippudo's delicious pork buns (to all the Momofuku proponents out there - David Chang's pork buns aren't THE best, and same for his ramen for that matter). Despite Ippudo's less than perfect ramen, we would be happy to return any time for its pork buns (more on the buns in another post).

Back to the Ippudo vs. Ramen Setagaya debate. Here is my assessment: on the noodle front, Ramen Setagaya wins; on the broth front: Ippudo wins. I've tried both the Akamaru Modern and Shiromaru Hakata Classic at Ippudo (bad photo below from a weak camera I borrowed). The former has a bolder flavor with the use of miso paste while the latter is a classic ramen, but both use the same house-made average at best noodles. I knew their noodles were off at first bite - the exterior was fine, but the interior I thought was rather gummy. It simply didn't have the luscious feel I was expecting from noodles.

However, I thoroughly enjoyed Ippudo's broth, which I thought was less greasy as Ramen Setagaya's. If it weren't for Ippudo's pork buns, I would not frequent Ippudo more than Ramen Setagaya. I do have to say that since making noodles is such a fine art, I would have to vote for Ramen Setagaya as having the best ramen in NYC. I know I'll continue to debate over these two ramen joints with my brother. We'll just have to agree to disagree.

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