Sun-Thu, noon-11pm; Fri-Sat, noon-midnight
6 at Astor Pl.
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One of the biggest events among Japanese expats, noodle slurpers, and culinary screwballs of every persuasion was the opening of this ramen bar, a first U.S. branch of a Japanese mini-chain. And for good reason: The shio (or salt-based) broth is a revelation—smooth with a mellow roundness, subtly flavored with various things like dried scallops and dried anchovies. The noodles range in thickness from spaghettini-size to linguine-size, and, served hot in broth or cold (tsukemen style) on a separate plate for dipping, are firm and springy and pretty much irresistible. A non-ramen must-have dish is the oyako-don, crumbly pieces of minced chicken like the kind you’d find in a Thai larb, topped with a soft-cooked egg and served over rice. In the kitchen, ramen wranglers, their heads wrapped in what appear to be gym towels, buzz about like members of a radical modern-dance troupe.