Mon-Wed, 11:30am-11pm; Thu, 11:30am-1am; Fri, 11:30am-4am; Sat, noon-11pm; Sun, 4pm-11pm
6 at 51st St.
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
At this second-floor hideaway of a ramen joint it’s refreshing to find that a party can walk in unannounced and quickly secure a table or a spot at the wooden counter. While the ecstasy of each bowl may not quite equal that at the always-mobbed Ippudo, downtown, it’s still darn good, and after all, a ramen-ya is not meant to be somewhere to wait two hours. The standout here is the soup made with black-garlic oil, an unusual (and incredibly salty) pool of rich, dark, garlicky broth surrounding straight noodles, which cries out for a large mug of beer. Standard tonkatsu ramen is also salty enough to require about a gallon of water, but it’s a perfectly delicious bowl when the craving strikes. A starter of cold spicy octopus whets the palate nicely and dumplings are a delicately fried precursor or side to the soup, though sesame beans have a too-thick tahini-like sauce. In all, a meal here is affordable, quick, and casual, just like a ramen-ya is meant to be.