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Totally Ramen Totto

Hi! Hello! Wow, I can't believe I am a "blogger" now, a member of the new medium that has sent the old guards reeling. (Sorry, Grey Lady.) As the name of my blog suggests, I am completely fanatical about food. OK, may be not completely, but (100-π)% crazy perhaps? For those who don't know me, I am a tall, handsome jock who also takes life very seriously. Though I won't be blogging all the news that's fit to print (sorry again, Grey Lady), I hope my passion for food will bring music to your tongue, umami to your eyes and colors to your ears. In case you are wondering, I am not on LSD. It's called "synesthesia." 

Before I delve into my inaugural post, I'd like to a give a big shoutout to Charissa, Genevieve and Alison, 3 lovely ladies who also hold very dear to my heart. Without your inspiration, my food blog won't happen. Without your criticisms, my cooking will still be too salty and I will have a BP of 160/100.

Here we go:
Ramen Totto is part of the ever-expanding "Totto" Empire in NYC, which includes Yakitori and Soba Totto. The space was long and narrow (that's what she said), with most seats in the form of high wooden stools clustered along the bar table. The set-up reminded me of the typical ramen spots that I visited (drunk?) in Japan, and the staff was unmistakably Japanese as well--- polite and courteous to the point of being apologetic.

What struck me was the intensity that went into my bowl of ramen. Blocks of char siu (roast pork) were handcut into manageable bites, which were then charred with a blow torch. One of the two chefs, with a 2-foot ladle in hand, was constantly stirring the top secret soup base, housed in 3 separate metallic tubs half my height. (I know I ain't tall, but still...) From time to time, he would pour the soup into a mini-telescope-like gadget and aim the eyepiece toward a light source, just to make sure that the soup was maintained at the optimal concentration. I was later told that the devise was called a "reflectoscope."

Working his ramen magic
Then my bowl of Totto Spicy Ramen came. What hit me first was a wave of intense sesame aroma. It was so intoxicating that I closed my eyes and took a nice, big drag as though I were smoking hookah. The house-made spicy rayu (sesame oil) not only smelled good, it also added an additional layer of complexity to the texture of the al dente thin noodles--- silkiness. The rest of the bowl was satisfying but not necessarily outstanding: char siu was nicely charred, the scallions were fresh and the nori was crispy. My only criticism was that my 2nd (extra) serving of noodles was a bit undercooked. That was disappointing especially given the effort the chefs put into each bowl of their creations. My suggestion: if you are gonna freaking use a "reflectoscope," why don't you also consider using a timer to cook your ramen?!

Totto Spicy Ramen, made with original spicy sesame oil and Paitan ramen, topped with scallion, onion, char siu pork, and a nori. 
All in all, it was a gratifying experience, and I would return to try their Totto Chicken Paitan Ramen and Totto Miso Ramen. I have been to my fair share of NYC ramen meccas, e.g. Ippudo, Minca, Momofuku Noodle Bar and Setegaya. They all had savory soups and al dente noodles. What made Totto stood out was its rayu. It's all about the rayu!

Totto Ramen
366 West 52nd Street, New York, NY


  1. This place is sooooo good!! I've been twice already since it's so close to my office and plan to return many more times. The only squidgy factor is the super fatty broth (which they rectified by giving you a choice of light, medium, or super ridiculously fatty broth)

    Anyway glad you enjoyed it too! Looking forward to reading your blog :)

  2. Cool blog, lucky you to be in NYC, where food culture is also a hot mixing pot from traditional to fusion.

  3. lol what a tool

    haters gon hate

    lawl jk