Total Bill: $51.00 for two (cash only)
The way to evaluate Totto Ramen is your utility per minute waited. If only that were possible.
See, for instance, Jay has a low tolerance for lines, always casting a skeptical eye on hyped up restaurants and crowded venues. Meanwhile, I’m happy to wait the first time, and willing to wait again if the experience proves worthwhile.
So between these two mentalities, I’d say Totto lived up to our expectations.
The crowd surrounding it’s humble storefront is daunting, especially in the cold. The system is set up so that you jot your name down on a list on a clipboard hanging on the door. And once you peer into the tiny eatery, you’ll be even more discouraged to see there’s at most just over two dozen seats.
Someone emerges and yells out names every 10 minutes or so, and inevitably there will be a few quitters that are no where to be found.
We won this war of attrition and got seated within a hour Friday at prime dinnertime (fair warning, we’ve heard near two hours waits before).
Inside, you’ll see Totto hasn’t given in to American influences. Its backstreet feel is authentic, with chefs yelling order, skillfully handling boiling water with one hand and scarfing down their own dinner with another.
But that’s not what you waited for. The food comes quickly (part of why the turnover is so fast). But it’s also the real deal. The pork is scorched with a torch gun, and was without question the highlight of their ramen soup.
For me, though, the noodles is what makes Totto worthy of return trips. It’s fresh unlike any of the many many ramen shops in the city. Soggy noodles you can get any time in your at-home ramen packets. Firm noodles you need freshly churned and slapped in hot water.
Brave it once and judge for yourself.