Tag Archives: Westside

Worth the Hype? Ippudo Ramen

There are many different versions of “Top lists for Ramen in NYC”, but Ippudo Ramen and Totto Ramen are the two names that appear on almost all of these lists. This week I tried out Ippudo Westside for the first time and had to say that I personally preferred Totto over Ippudo.


Getting ramen in NYC is always associated with long waiting time – and who wants to stand outside for half an hour in this extreme cold weather? The three times that I have been to Totto, I only successfully sat down once. Even at Jin Ramen, which is situated in a not-so-busy neighborhood, one still faces the high chance of having to wait for at least 15 minutes for a seat. I learned from experience that to get a seat in Totto’s tiny space, one MUST go on a weekday and preferably slightly before 5pm, so you can get a seat right after it opens. Applying this rule last week when I went to Ippudo Westside, I was shocked when I arrived right at 5pm on a Wednesday and realized that most of the seats were empty. It almost seemed surreal that getting ramen could be so easy in New York.




Besides the ease of finding a seat as compared to Totto, Ippudo Westside has completely different ambiance than Totto. While Ippudo is spacious and modern, Totto is cramped and homey. This is definitely more an issue of personal preference. But Totto ramen does resemble more the experience one gets in a ramen store in Japan.  (I want to note that I’ve never been to the original Ippudo location, which may elicit more authentic Japanese feel than the newest Westside location.)


The restaurant is divided into two main areas. The bar seat areas and the table area. I definitely enjoyed the spacious bar seats at Ippudo. They are extremely comfortable and great for eating by oneself or with one other person.



 Pork buns and chicken buns.


Overall, the food at Ippudo was satisfactory but a bit over-hyped.

A lot has been said about the buns here. In my opinion – while the bun shell was quite soft and tasty, the meat content of the pork buns and chicken buns was sweeter than anticipated. Out of the two kinds, the chicken buns tasted better as they were coated and fried. There were also a lot of mayo in both types of buns. For better buns, I suggest visiting the trendy Bauhaus specializing in buns near Union Square and trying their pork buns (they’re mindblowing)



The classic pork chashu ramen “Shiromaru Hakata Classic”



 Clear soup “Torishio”


Now the most important part of the post – the ramen. I ordered Shiromaru Hakata Classic, the first on their list of ramen. While nothing was particularly wrong with any part of the ramen, it also did not stand out to me as much as I hoped. I thought the soup base was a tad too rich after eating for a while. However, the two thick pieces of pork chashu tasted quite amazing and did not contain too much fatty parts, which is always a plus.


Add-ons are always an integral part of ordering ramen. I personally love bamboo shoots – or Menma – as well as soft boiled eggs in my ramen. But I wasn’t aware that Shiromaru Hakata already came with some The smarter choice would be to order extra pork for 3 dollars.


I was pleasantly surprised by the taste of Torishio, which my friend ordered. It’s the same ramen noodles with pork chashu but in a clear soup. I always have been skeptical of “healthier alternatives” offered at places, Asian places in particular. But Torishio definitely exceeded my expectation. Even though the soup was clear, it was quite flavorful and tasty. So this option is definitely recommended.


The overall verdict: provided that you don’t have to wait for a long time to get a seat, hopping on the 1 train to get to Ippudo Westside might be something to try on a weekday. However, don’t set your expectations up too high as the ramen here is not as special as they say.


Ippudo Westside
Address: 321 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019
Phone:(212) 974-2500




Westside Watch: A Breakfast of Champions

Delicious, creamy, satisfying.

Unlike most of my fellow students, I am an early riser. No matter what time I go to bed, my body loves to wake me up around 7:30 every morning, even on the weekends and even when I don’t have class until 10:10. I’ve tried to sleep past 7:30 and it simply does not work. So, I really hate it that the dining halls do not start serving brunch until 10:00 on the weekends. It kills me. I can’t wait that long to eat so usually I make do with some instant oatmeal and peanut butter that I have stashed in my room. Needless to say, this is not my favorite option, especially when my roommate sleeps in until noon and I have to tiptoe around the room with the lights off.

Leave it to Westside Market to come to my rescue. One of my good friends shares my habit of waking up early and also shares my frustration with the lack of viable, cheap breakfast options on the weekends. She told me of a magical product that has made my life much better. It’s called cold oatmeal. And it’s delicious.

If you walk into Westside and make your way to the cheese section, you’ll find a glorious array of various puddings, yogurt, and fruit, all packaged in house. You will also find several types of what Westside calls “Maria’s Homemade Cold Granola Oatmeal.” It’s exactly what it sounds like: home-cooked oatmeal but served cold. It comes in a myriad of flavors, all of which I have resolved to try while I am at school here. So far, I’ve had the pleasure of tasting raspberry and blueberry-raspberry and I have fallen in love. The oatmeal is made with soymilk, honey, fruit, and granola, so it’s easy on my lactose-intolerant stomach and incredibly filling. It’s not overly sweet and it is exceptionally creamy—what I would call the perfect breakfast.

I was boggled by the amount of flavors available. Since I’ve discovered it, I’ve observed cherry-vanilla-almond, blueberry, strawberry, pumpkin, gingerbread, peanut butter, cranberry, chocolate chip, etc. The options are endless. I’ve become so entranced by it that I’ve made it my Sunday routine to get up, grab some oatmeal, and sit down at Starbucks to write papers. I find I get a lot of good work done with a filling breakfast. I even took some on the bus with me when I went to visit my sister last weekend in Philadelphia. That’s how much I love it. And you should try it. Because you’ll love it too.

Paradise at the Salad Bar

The bounty of the Westside Salad Bar

One of the first things I did when I returned to the city from my stint in Colorado was venture down to 110th street to visit my favorite local grocery store: Westside Market. I had grown used to the spacious plains of my home state and I think in the process I forgot how incredibly cramped aisles in New York City stores can be. I must have lost my ability to maneuver as well because I’m pretty sure I accidentally hit at least three people with my basket on the way to the apples. I may have gotten a few dirty looks.

Accidental rudeness aside, it was comforting to return to the store in which I spent many a grand time perusing the aisles for some interesting food item to write about in this lovely little column of mine. I quickly checked off some of the staples on my shopping list: peanut butter, granola bars, and pretzels. After the essentials were taken care of, I gave myself the treat of wandering around as much as I wanted to, all in the name of investigative reporting, of course.

I perused the cheese section and longingly gazed at the triple-crème Brie that alas did not fit into my budget. I contemplated some interesting-looking fig jam that I reasoned could go well with my Brie if I ever found the funding as well as a whole plethora of crackers from different countries. I may or may not have begun planning a cheese party for my future self when I have a job that pays more than $10.00 an hour. I spied some kimchi in the sushi section, a fermented Korean cabbage condiment that I find incredibly appealing, if a bit pungent. Look out for it in a future column.

I finally decided to toast my return to the city by ordering my first salad from the beautiful salad bar that commands the middle of the store. I copied the lady in front of me and chose a tub of greens from the case below the bar and handed it to the salad-tosser. I eyed the bounty of toppings carefully and had some difficulty choosing. Hungry customers can choose from toppings that vary from roasted red peppers to dolmas, a Greek rice-stuffed grape leaf I’m rather fond of. I ended up choosing peppers, roasted mushrooms, chicken, corn, and balsamic vinaigrette. The price of the salads depends on their weight so if you are on a budget, perhaps restrain yourself at the toppings bar. My delicious salad made for a wonderful start to a new year and a new semester.