(Chicken Paitan Ramen) This obscurely located shack on the far west side of Midtown is invariably mobbed. It specializes in a Cantonese-influenced broth made with chicken and pork bones, and soft, straight, or slightly wavy noodles. This is a great choice for lovers of delicacy and subtlety in ramen. Shown with two rather unusual toppings -- one a hot pepper condiment (shown in the soup), the other soy-marinated avocado. Weird and wonderful!
(Shiromaru Hakata Classic) Pork bone broth highly emulsified, and a shade of beige that simply didn't exist before. Noodles slightly firmer than most and thinner, and pickled ginger is an important component of the flavor package. But the premises threaten to overwhelm the noodles, and the Valley of Blackened Trees and Wall of Bowls have become bona fide East Village landmarks.
(Tabata Ramen) The signature soup at this new Hell's Kitchen noodle parlor features cooked and toasted ramen in the same bowl, with a novel broth thickened with coconut milk and soy powder. Chicken nubs as the protein and raw purple onions are further evidence of the kinkiness of this formulation. You'll find yourself going back a few days later for a second serving. NB: Location behind the Port Authority may be one reason for prices almost 30 percent less than most ramen parlors in town, with no diminution in quality.
(Powder Snow Ramen) The pork dropped into your soup is exceptional here, where three types of miso, each associated with a city in Japan, underpin most of the ramens. The restaurant boasts, "Our broth is made with pork born, chicken bone, garlic, ginger, and seaweed kelp." While grating Parmesan on top of ramen and throwing on a big pat of butter isn't unknown, here it's done with greater success, making a really memorable bowl of noodles.
(Spicy Miso Ramen) No better repast as the winter winds whip the East Village than this spicy bowl of miso ramen. The medium-weight miso is earthy and gritty, the level of heat higher than you'd ever expect, and the kernels of corn a cooling component. Anneal your innards with this soup and you won't regret it.
(Minca Ramen) This place is very old in East Village ramen years, and incites fierce loyalty with its choice of five types of noodles, multiple broth options, and comparatively low prices. The signature bowl features a powerful soy broth, a tea-boiled egg, kelp, and thin noodles.
(Chashu Ramen) This Japanese gastropub hidden in plain sight off Sheridan Square cultivates a 1950s wrestling theme, and you're likely to see Gorgeous George tangling with a Japanese wrestler on the monitors. More important, only one ramen is offered, with no fussy options -- this is pub grub at its Japanese best, based in a murky pig-foot broth that tastes like it's been boiled for three years. Plenty of pork, too.
(Momofuku Ramen) This bowl lays claim to being one of the inspirations behind the current ramen boom. That said, the soup shows the touch of an ambitious chef, featuring two kinds of pork (roast belly and shredded shoulder), flowers of fishcake, whole sheets of nori as if stolen from the sushi bar down the street, and a science-cheffy egg. The bowl flaunts its noodles prominently, while other places hide them beneath the surface.
(Mayu Ramen) This is the darkest and stormiest bowl of ramen in the city, the pork broth laced with garlic cooked almost to a cinder, a plethora of other ingredients, like wood-ear mushrooms and bamboo shoots, crowding the bloated ramen. You won't go away hungry from this unusual bowl.
(Limited Order Ramen) Started by two former Morimoto veterans, this ramen parlor has sent the venerable noodle twirling in a decidedly hipster direction. The broth is ghostly white and frothy and the pork tastes like bacon, and the entire roster of ingredients is austere in the extreme. This bowl scores high points for novelty and purity.