Totto Ramen, the new Midtown noodle joint from the folks behind Yakitori Totto and Soba Totto, has just 16 seats, every one of them taken last night, when there was a 30-minute wait for two. The restaurant opened last week, so its sides and rice dishes are not yet available, but the ramen is up and running.
Sit at the counter and you’re practically in the three chefs’ laps. One wields a blow torch to brown pork belly, one tends to the boiling ramen, and one deals with the toppings. The kitchen is extremely narrow — the chefs can’t really move around each other — and the whole place is bare-bones in a pleasant way.
A giant glass vat of brick-red oil sits on the counter, garlic, onion, and dried shrimp and scallops floating in its murky depths. Order the spicy ramen ($10.25, pictured above) and a good ladle-full of that oil goes in on top of the cloudy, mild chicken broth. It lends a peppery, salty depth to the already excellent stock. The noodles themselves are pale and wheaten, very firm. Toppings are minimal, just two slices of very fatty pork and a tangle of scallions.
The chicken broth is impressive in its depth and deep flavor. It’s lighter than pork bone stock, but just as tasty. As New York City ramen goes, Totto Ramen makes a restrained, almost elegant, bowl of soup.
Plus, you can get generous glasses of sake for $5 or $7.
366 West 52nd Street