Totto Ramen's Paitan Is Less Than $10

Totto Ramen's Paitan Is Less Than $10
Photo courtesy Totto Ramen

If you've ever been broke, instant ramen has most likely been an integral part of your diet. It's flavorful (gotta love that MSG), filling, and you can get six meals for, like, a dollar. But over the past decade or so, the ramen scene in NYC has exploded, so you're excused if you can no longer imagine water, noodles, and a packet as a dish. Of course, the real thing costs a heck of a lot more money -- some places charge upwards of $16 a bowl. Totto Ramen (366 West 52nd Street; 212-582-0052), on the other hand, offers its paitan for less than $10.

With frequent hour-plus (probably two-plus, on a Friday or Saturday night) lines, each of the place's three locations draws the crowds for its own authentic version of the soup. There's a reason it's commonly included on lists of the best: It's that good.

Depending on whom you ask, you'll hear a different answer for which ramen to order. None are extraordinarily pricey; however, the paitan is definitely the most affordable.

Very different from the ubiquitous tonkatsu (a rich and heavy pork-based stock), the paitan starts with long-simmered hot chicken broth, and it's lighter and brighter than its porcine counterpart. It's filled with straight wheat noodles, made in-house, then topped with nori (stiff sheets of seaweed), scallions, and onions, and finished off with your pick of chicken or pork as a protein.

And ringing in at just $9.75 per bowl, it's a great deal -- as long as you can handle the wait.

Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.

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