Manhattan – Midtown West
366 W 52nd St between Eighth and Ninth Aves
On an otherwise quiet stretch of West 52nd Street in Hell's Kitchen is a happening, bare-bones Japanese noodle joint, identified by the line of people outside waiting for a seat. They're at a premium—only 10 can fit at the bar, where it's fun to watch the chefs at work—but true ramen fans are willing to delay gratification. The owners of Totto Ramen are also behind the popular Yakitori Totto and have a winning formula here, too: big bowls of steamy, chicken-based or vegetarian broth brimming with noodles and topped with sliced pork or vegetables and perhaps a ladle of spicy red oil flavored with garlic bits, onion, shrimp and scallops. There's sake and Japanese beer to wash it down, and then it's out-you-go to keep that line moving.