This is my second review of Tampopo Ramen (you can read my first review by going here: http://www.foodlovergirl.com/tampopo-ramen/)
Since we had such nice food at Tampopo Ramen a few month ago, we decided to go back for some more. We figured that they now had more experience running the restaurant since they opened, so everything should be much more smooth. This time, there was a maître d’ at the door, taking names and number of the party. He was very efficient, while taking down names, he was also cleaning up the counter/table as soon as customers left, if all the waitresses were busy. This helped speed up the cleaning process and shorter wait time. He was very friendly and polite.
For appetizers, we ordered Karaage Fried Chicken ($7) since it was soooooo good the last time, and Pan Fried Pork Gyoza Dumplings ($6). I feel like the Chicken was better the first time we visited. It was still tasty and juicy, but it didn’t have that “wow” factor that we experienced… The gyoza was good and tasty, but they were sticking to each other too much that when we tried to separate them, it broke the one next to it.
For ramen, we got Spicy Miso ramen ($13.50) with chicken chashu (you can choose between pork or chicken). It comes with egg noodles in hearty miso chicken broth, topped with chili sauce, charbroiled chicken chashu, marinated egg, corn, beansprouts, bamboo shoot, and scallions. It had nice spiciness, it creeps up to you with each bite. Chicken was good, different from the usual pork chashu.
Towards the end of the ramen bowl, we ordered Extra Noodles ($2.50) again, also knows as “Kaedama” in Japanese. This is a brilliant way to have more ramen without ordering another complete ramen. What you do is simply add the extra noodle back into your ramen bowl, and voilà! You got another ramen! Well, with much less toppings and ingredients (since you ate them already), but hey, you got more noodles! sadly, it took a long time from when we ordered the Extra Noodle, to get the actual noodle. They should really do something about this! Getting Kaedama is like ordering another glass of beer. Simple to serve to a customer, and customers want it immediately. Kaedama should be quick, as it is very quick to do, and if you take too long, the broth would get cold while waiting to add the extra noodle. But, the kitchen staff kept on making other orders (instead of dropping a one serving of noodle into a hot water). We to ask three different waitresses to get it going… When it was finally done and delivered to us, the noodle was still a bit hard, but some people prefer it this way. They take time creating each ramen bowl from what we witnessed. The noodles gets cooked continuously in the broth while they are completing the ramen. About the time you come to your table, it is at the perfect softness. With kaedama, you get the cooked noodle immediately without the broth, so when you put them in your broth, it is still hard. And if they take long time to give you the “refill” of your noodle, then the broth is no longer hot, so the noodle will stay rather hard.
On addition, we also ordered Mini Donburi Rice Bowl with Pork ($6). It had three to four pcs of pork chashu. They were very tender, topped with sweet teriyaki sauce and Japanese mayo. I thought this was quite a good deal, it was not tiny portion, but good enough amount, and nice flavor. The price was just right for the amount and quality you were getting.
Overall, it was an OK experience. As I mention, the kitchen staffs took their time making ramen. But it was to make sure they got the order right, double – triple checking. Because of this, it took longer time than normal for ramen to come out, but it is sometimes necessary for a better quality food, correct portion of everything, and plated very nicely. Compare to our first visit, shortly after their opening, their food still takes longer time than average, but they are making progress, no more chaotic atmosphere. The waitresses provided good service. Water always refilled. Friendly, pretty efficient, polite. On our first visit, they were not so together, but I can see they got this part down nicely. It was very pleasant. I hope they will continue to improve, and please teach kitchen staff the importance of Extra Noodle order!
Tampopo Ramen – 1 Bennett Ave, New York, NY 10033