Yet another tonkotsu ramen joint quietly opened up recently on Lexington, just south of 23rd St. I've only been once and can say that the porky broth lives up to versions I've enjoyed in Japan, as well as its local competitors like Ippudo or Minca. Terakawa seems to be another chain-ette from Kumamoto, trying to establish its footing in NYC. While I did enjoy the broth and the simplest version of their tonkotsu ramen (eponymously called Terakawa ramen), there were a few problems, which seem to be service-related. Unlike other other major Japanese chains that opened up in NYC, Terakawa looks like they're relying on local hires rather than bringing their own team from Japan to set up shop. When I went, the staff outnumbered the patrons about 3 to 1, yet there was a lot of confusion at a four-top about who ordered what. The staff in the kitchen (observable behind the glass partition) made what looked like several amateurish maneuvers or other clueless lapses. Despite these service issues, I'm encouraged because those problems can be worked out with a little more time and experience. The basics of the food seems fairly intact and the broth is good and heavy with porky goodness. The noodles are served firm, though I've never had noodles as firm as these (I think this was another lapse by the noodle guy), but I just let it sit in the hot broth a little longer than usual to let it come to a more chewable/slurpable texture. A shake of the dried garlic bits and some hot oil adds a nice dimension of flavors as well.
While Ippudo has cornered the market on tonkotsu ramen for now, I am not a fan of the lounge-vibe for what should be a fast food. If I have to wait more than 15-20 minutes, I probably won't bother. I prefer the diner-cum-pizza parlor feel of Terakawa where I can get a bowl of ramen, slurp it down in 8 minutes and be off to finish my errands. I'll give Terakawa another try in the next month or so, and see if they've figured out the service issues, and hope the broth remains as good.