Hello readers! Just a side note before we start our review, we have a new page on our site. If you click on the “NYC Ramen Cheat Sheet,” you’ll see a list of our favorite spots in the city – much easier than scrolling through all of our posts. We hope this will be helpful in your personal adventures to seek out great ramen in the city.
For this ramen adventure, we went to the upper east side location of Naruto Ramen on Third Avenue between 89th and 90th Street in Manhattan with our friend Nick.
Naruto is one of Marion’s go-to places in upper Manhattan, but we were still unsure of what to expect. The restaurant itself is very small with only fifteen seats that are part of the ramen bar – there are no tables. It’s easy to encounter a wait, especially during peak meal times so we advise you arrive earlier than later. However, the small, somewhat cramped setup works well because it seats you very close to the open kitchen. You really feel like you are right in the middle of the action, as you can always hear gyoza frying or soup bubbling. This gives the restaurant an authentic and intimate feel, which is relatively unique within the New York ramen scene. Only Totto Ramen immediately jumps to mind as somewhere with a comparable atmosphere.
We were seated at the far end of the counter, where we could get a nice view of the whole shop. I got the Tan-Tan Ramen, Marion and Nick both ordered the Miso Ramen, and we split an order of the gyoza. The gyoza, which came first, were pretty good. Although they were a bit oily, I thought they had a nice ratio of vegetables and meat, and the outer wrapper was crispy and hot while the inside was soft and tender. The ramen itself was very good. My Tan-Tan had a perfect level of spiciness and many toppings. It came with ground pork, scallions, a lot of bean sprouts and fishcake (naruto). The miso ramen that Marion and Nick got was also a standout. The broth was rich, full, and slightly sweet with a great earthy quality. The roast pork topping was terrific – sweet and substantial with just the right amount of melt-in-your-mouth fat that we all crave. What may have impressed me the most was the quality of the noodles across the board. They were cooked almost all the way through, yet still retained their springiness and chewy texture throughout the entire meal. The ability to maintain this quality of noodle throughout the entire meal always impresses me, since many places tend to overcook (in my opinion), which results in soggy and soft noodles by the end of your bowl. Naruto’s ramen was not like this, and that is definitely a big plus.
Naruto is a nice little ramen place in the Upper East Side. Its interior and atmosphere create a sense of someplace that is authentically Japanese (or at least as close as you might find in the States) and the servers are kind, friendly, and speedy. While it’s not a good idea to go there with more than three people, it’s a great place to stop by if you’re in the area. The ramen is great – just a notch below the best of what we’ve reviewed so far and the portions are very generous. We give it three and a half stars out of five.
P.S. We are going to South Korea with some friends for a long vacation soon. All of us are really excited to see, experience, and taste the various things that Korea has available. No guarantees, but we may have an international update headed your way soon. Otherwise it will be a while before we’re back stateside and ready to go on another quest. As always, thanks for reading and sticking with us. Here’s to many more!