Saturday, July 10, 2010


Friday I read a story about a new ramen noodle restaurant in Hell's Kitchen, not far from work. I absolutely love Men Kui Tei, and though noodles have more simple carbs than I should be eating my mind was in a noodle focus, and wanted to try out this new restaurant Totto Ramen. There was a small line for this smaller restaurant already at noon when it opened. I love little, unique places like this. Just a couple of blocks away when I lived in Hell's Kitchen in the 1990's there would be huge lines, even in the summer, for the delicious soup from the Soup Man...a few years later, thanks to Seinfeld, this real person became a character known as the Soup Nazi.

Anyway Totto is down a few steps from the street level and has exactly 19 chairs, including bar stools, in this tiny place. The weather was in the 90's as was the humidity, so only mad dogs, Englishmen, and ramen lovers ventured out for some piping hot ramen noodles today. The stove is feet away, and that means the stove fan was blasting hot air on a hot day. In short the experience could have been miserable. However, I unbuttoned my shirt to Elvis levels and dug in to the vegetable ramen. The noodles were a little different than Men Kui Tei, and the broth was "crisper" and more spicy. However, I prefer MenKui Tei. The internal sprinklers did a job on my whole body, so I had two choices: Buy a new shirt before going back to work, or taking some time to cool off, and dry off. I chose the later and popped around the corner into my old local McCoys. I used to go to McCoys when I first moved to the city on 51st between 8th and 9th just when it started to turn around (one of the selling points my rental agent said back in '95 was that, "there were hardly any murders in the neighborhood last year." OK, sign me's amazing how a cheap, rent stabilized apartment eradicates fear!) I'd meet old guys in McCoy's who would talk about the Westies, the famous Irish Gang that used to run Hell's Kitchen.
Feeling nostalgic (when am I not?) I went into McCoy's. The place was sanitized to almost Applebees-like standards, but the bartender was a friendly actress, the place was cool, and she had no problem delivering 6 pints of ice water to me while I read the Post.

After work on a warm day I accompanied a friend and colleague to the Bryant Park Grill rooftop where I really wanted a cold beer, but decided I really didn't deserve one so I stuck with seltzer water. Dinner had me back at Taksim.

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