While there have been a good number of long threads on ramen in Manhattan, most of the posts consisted of very vague, subjective comments like "I like X restaurant more than Y." And since everybody has slightly different preferences for ramen, this often leads to directly contradictory recommendations! I'd like to kick off a thread that tries to break down each ramen place by characteristics so that people can pick out restaurants that suit their tastes more easily.
+ Broth base: Tonkotsu; Seafood; Chicken; etc.
+ Broth type: Miso, shio, shoyu, etc.
+ Broth oiliness: Light; Medium; Heavy
+ Broth saltiness: Light; Medium; Heavy
+ Noodle thickness: Thin; Medium; Thick
+ Noodle mouthfeel: Soft/doughy; Medium; Chewy/rubbery
+ Cha-shu: Any comments you'd like to make on the cha-shu
+ Other toppings: Ditto
+ Accompaniments: Cha-han, gyoza, kara-age, etc.
+ Overall impression: Any thoughts you have
+ Misc: Anything that doesn't fit into the above categories.
Obviously this is not going to be an exact science. What I consider to be light broth could be called medium by another person with a lighter palate, for example. But hopefully this rubric will help us to communicate better about what aspects of various ramen restaurants we like. Also, as each listed aspect tends to differ between different types of ramen at the same restaurant, I'd like to encourage everyone to write about the different types of ramen separately.
RAI RAI KEN:
+ Broth base: Not sure, I think it's chicken; pretty sure it's not tonkotsu as it doesn't have that thick, earthy underlying flavor.
+ Broth type: CURRY! :D
+ Broth oiliness: Medium (the curry paste makes the broth a little heavier)
+ Broth saltiness: Medium (again the curry paste makes this a more heavily-seasoned broth, but it's still very sippable for me)
+ Noodle thickness: Medium (typical ramen noodles, not as thick as Misoya or Sapporo)
+ Noodle mouthfeel: Medium on the soft side. Definitely softer than most ramen I've had, but still with a little bite.
+ Cha-shu: Very well-seasoned and tender, with a little bit of fat.
+ Other toppings: Scallions and half a salty poached egg. Absolutely love the egg, it's much more flavorful than the typical plain boiled egg you get at lots of places, but it fits in well with the flavor of the broth. Also it's very soft, which fits in well with the texture of the noodles.
+ Accompaniments: I keep forgetting to try their cha-han because I'm so excited about their ramen every time I go there, but I always see other people order it and I stare at their order jealously because it smells so good and looks incredible. My husband ordered the gyoza once and it was just ok. Kinda weak flavors overall and very loose, wimpy filling. They serve annin tofu as desert as well, and it's pretty good. Kinda hard to fuck up annin tofu though.
+ Overall impression: I <3 this ramen! Strong on the curry flavor but still light enough to sip by itself, which I personally prefer to the heavier styles of broth that you can only consume with noodles to balances out the saltiness and oiliness. I also like that the noodles are on the softer side, because I don't like noodles that are very chewy (makes me feel like I'm eating rubber).
+ Misc: The chefs will give you a glass of ice water as you sit down, and you can order tea for extra $. I haven't tried their tea yet, though I think they don't serve barley tea which is a shame.
+ Broth base: Same as above
+ Broth type: Shio
+ Broth oiliness: Light
+ Broth saltiness: Light
+ Noodle thickness: Thin. They serve a different, thinner kind of noodles with the Shio broth, not sure if you can request it with other broth types, as they don't list it as an option on the menu.
+ Noodle mouthfeel: Soft.
+ Cha-shu: Same as above
+ Other toppings: Egg and scallions as above, I think it also comes with bamboo shoots and corn.
+ Accompaniments: Same as above
+ Overall impression: One of the lightest bowls of ramen I've ever tried. I like it, though I have a hard time imagining ordering this over the curry ramen. My husband thought it was a bit too bland. I also love the thin noodles. Not quite as awesome as my favorite Rosemead Shinsengumi noodles, but the closest to it that I've found so far in NYC.