Sunday, October 31, 2010

Totto Ramen (New York, NY)

All you ramen fans out there, there's a new place in midtown west that's definitely worth checking out. 

This place boasts its MSG-free and "made-with-chicken-only" soup base, but I actually thought their Vegetarian Ramen was far better than their signature Totto Chicken Paitan Ramen. 

Trust me when I say I'm no vegetarian by any means, but definitely check out Totto's Vegetarian Ramen.  The best secret to making this a more perfect dish is adding the Char Siu Pork as a topping (sshhh.... I know that defeats the purpose of ordering a "vegetarian" dish, but its konbu seaweed and shiitake mushroom-based soup is just that much better than the Chicken based soup.) 

Totto Chicken Paitan Ramen

Vegetarian Ramen with Char Siu Pork

Location: 366 W 52nd Street
Dress Code: Totally casual (whatever you want to wear)
Occasion: dinner with friends (small group only), casual lunch / dinner with anyone
Price Range: $9.25 for Totto Chicken Paitan Ramen; $11 for Vegetarian Ramen ($2 extra to add Char Siu Pork)

Eleven Madison Park (New York, NY)

Only my second time here, and already one of my very favorites.

It's hard to find a restaurant like Eleven Madison Park, even in a city where dozens of new restaurants open up each week.

Everything about this place is just perfect - the food, the service, and the lovely decor.  (It's also located in one of my favorite NYC neighborhoods - Gramercy / Flatiron.)  Daniel Humm deserves some respect for making this place one of the top 50 restaurants in the world at such a young age (the executive chef himself being just 33 years old). 

This place definitely deserves a more thorough review than what I'm posting now, but rather than waiting another six months before posting it here, I've decided to at least put up a few pictures of the absolutely delicious dishes here for the time being. 

It's too bad that I didn't have my camera with me when I went for the more complete dinner pre-fixe.  The pictures here are from the very special lunch menu offered at EMP during the week.  (used to be the best deal in town... before they raised the prices by some 80%)

I was also very lucky to squeeze in another visit to this place before they spent a week on minor renovations - significantly reducing the number of seats in this restaurant and increasing prices by some 50 to 80%.  This place was by no standards "cheap" before Sept 2010, but it now will cost you a fortune to taste some of this most delicious food in the city.

Location: 11 Madison Avenue (Gramercy / Flatiron)
Dress Code: Formal
Occasion: romantic date, business lunch, family dinner
Price Range: Lunch - $56 / three-course, $74 / four-course; Dinner - $125 / four-course, $155 / five-course (tax, gratuity, and drinks not included)