Christal M. asks: My husband and I are coming to the city from out of state this Saturday to see a show. We were hoping you might recommend a restaurant in the Theater District. When we have done this excursion in the past, we dined at Ruby Foo’s, which was great. Your suggestion of someplace fun, but maybe a little less touristy, would help us to expand our range.
Dear Christal: As a tourist, it can be difficult to navigate through the chaos that is Times Square. Luckily, I can offer you some suggestions for a fun dinner that are more off the beaten path.
Since you enjoyed Ruby Foo’s, I’ll assume that you enjoy Asian restaurants, so might I recommend Totto Ramen? It’s a Japanese ramen restaurant featuring a notable chicken broth that hits the spot on a cold day. The spicy version is flavored with chile oil seasoned with garlic, onion, and dried shrimp and scallops. It’s a tiny restaurant, and it gets crowded fast, but it promises lots of good (and reasonably inexpensive) fun.
Also nearby is Pure Thai Shophouse, a new noodle-centric joint owned by restaurateur David Bank. It is based upon the small-scale restaurants, or shophouses, in Thailand. You’ll find the standards, like pad Thai and pad see ew, but your better bet is in the more innovative fare, like Ratchaburi crab and pork dry noodles or the slightly funky Krabi seafood noodle soup.
If you want to stick with something a bit bigger and brasher in the vein of Ruby Foo’s, try Inakaya, a Japanese restaurant dedicated to robata — or charcoal grill — cooking (though it’s technically gas here). The $35 five-course robata tasting menu will give you a taste of everything. Or opt for a selection of grilled vegetables, like shishito peppers and enoki mushrooms, since the fish and meat can get pretty pricey. And if you want something a little less cooked, they offer a selection of sushi and sashimi.