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103F Degrees and Ramen

July 27, 2011

“You do realize that it’s over 100 degrees outside right?”  The diner next to me leans over and gives us a dubious look as he sees our bowls of steaming hot ramen set before us.

All I can do is chuckle and not go on a rant about how long we had been waiting for this.  You have to understand that Yakitori Totto is one of my favorite places to dine if not the favorite.  I cannot say enough about the virtues of this hide-away tucked on the 2nd floor of a nondescript building on 55th street but I will save that for another day.  Today is all about their newest – beef ramen.

Yakitori Totto at lunch time is one of my go-to places for lunch to avoid running into people from work.  They have a fantastic deal of salad, soup and rice bowls/entree for all less than $12 or so.  The deal just got even better lately with the addition of a beef ramen.  Can you imagine?  The same quality noodles without the impossible line at Totto Ramen – it’s what my dreams are made of (once in a while anyways).

We start with the typical skewers, a momo (chicken breast) and a reba (chicken liver).  The reba is one of my favorites – tender and juicy and each had a snappy bite that comes from the charcoal grill.  This is nothing like the ones I used to eat when I was younger.  Can I turn back time and reinsert Yakitori’s reba into my memories?

Momo Skewer (top) and Reba Skewer (bottom)

Now, after a quick salad, we face-off with our beef ramen.  I brush off the stranger’s question and push away any doubt of our decision to not only trek 8 blocks in 103F degree heat but also to slurp down hot ramen.  Who cares, I shrug and start slurping.

The beef broth is rich and milky with a healthy serving of wavy noodles bathing in it.  A splash of sesame oil and shower of thinly sliced scallions top off the bowl.  Unlike other ramens in the city, this one has large chunks of tenderized beef instead of pork belly. This is a nice change, I think as I let each piece melt in my mouth.  This would be even better if I had a little of their Kizami Wasabi Shoyuzuke (chopped horse radish with soy sauce) to dip it in.

Beef Ramen

Nevertheless, the ramen is so mesmorizing that not even a power outage can make me pause.  I give my eyes a second to adjust before continuing the slurping and sipping.  We make it through the end of the meal in a restaurant that seem to become warmer by the second, nearly finishing off the entire bowl.

Success.

Yakitori Totto | 251 West 55th Street, New York, NY 10019 | tottonyc.com

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