Monday, November 21, 2016

ramen/japanese: i strongly recommend TOTTO RAMEN

 No 9, Alley 5, Lane 107, Fuxing S. Road, Sec. 1
(02) 2778-9866

MRT: ZhongXiao/FuXing

hours: 11:30AM- 2:30PM; 5:30PM-10:30PM (Saturdays 12PM-12AM)

$$ (about NT$250/person)

Kid friendliness: kids will love the chicken broth original paitan, no high chairs spotted and very narrow tight seating so no room for strollers 

Visit reviewed: 10/30/2016 & 6/17/2016

WHAT SETS TOTTO RAMEN APART FROM OTHERS is that its broth base is made from chicken stock rather than the more popular tonkotsu pork bone broth. For a first time visit, the server recommended we try the unadorned chicken paitan (NT$200) which is a velvety version of chicken noodle soup, with two slices of charsiu pork and thin al dente noodles. Paitan translates into white soup, so you'll see it's a milky, opaque, almost creamy soup rather than the clear chicken stock Amercians are used to. 

Some of you might recognize Totto Ramen from NYC and the Taipei shop is the real deal. Located in the alleys behind ZhongXiao Sogo, it seats about 20 people in one row of tables and one row of bar seating. On my third visit, I discovered they were more adamant about seating customers after everyone in your party had arrived (which I always find annoying especially since I was one person waiting for one other person and would occupy 1 table) even when the restaurant isn't full and there is no line. 

If you sit at the bar (or are waiting to be seated) then you can spy huge vats of chicken and chicken stock bubbling away, to become the base for the ramen broth. 

Totto Ramen's menu has four basic bowls- Chicken paitan, miso paitan, vegetable ramen and mega paitan and then spicy versions of it. There are small rice bowls available and some side dishes like seaweed salad or kimchi tofu. No grilled shisito peppers from their NY menu, as someone asked me on Instagram. You can add extra stuff to your bowl like bamboo or kimchi, or extra noodles for NT$30, or even chicken.

The cucumber (NT$90) is deceptively spicy. 

I always find myself gravitating towards spicy miso paitan (NT$230). Pretty delicious and yes it's the same one as the one in NYC. The chili oil and miso paste is added into the chicken paitan broth, so if I ordered this again, I would ask for the sauces on the side. The last time I had it, it was a bit heavy for me, maybe since I had it after a workout. But if you're looking for a rich spicy miso, this will fit the bill. Another thing to note is that the chicken paitan comes with a slender straight noodle (and no egg) while the miso paitan comes with a thicker wavy ramen and half an egg. I felt the pork was also fattiest on my most recent visit, so I ended up being a bit charsiu deprived after peeling away all the fat. 

For a heartier bowl, the mega paitan (NT$290) comes with more pork (I think three different kinds), and bears the number one label on the menu. If you're hungry, this is worth the upgrade. (Still cheaper than the chicken paitan I had in LA which started at US$12)

Anyways, head over to Totto Ramen before too many people discover it. And let me know if you find any other chicken paitan ramen spots in Taipei. The first place I ever had chicken paitan ramen was at  Afuri Ramen in Tokyo and then here at Totto Ramen in Taipei and then Tentenyu on Sawtelle in LA. The broth reminds me a little bit of the intense chicken soup at G-woo, although this is for a fraction of the cost. I would kind of kill for a bowl of this right now at one in the morning, as I'm finally updating some posts.


Eddie said...

I'm heading back to Taipei for the first time in two years three weeks from now. First part of my planning? Hitting up your blog. And boy do you deliver. I almost killed myself after visiting Totto in NYC two years ago, it was that good. I've been a reader of your blog since 2006. I go back to Taipei about every two years and I always read it to check out where to go.

joanh said...

Hey Eddie! Thanks for taking the time to leave your comment! Hope you have a great trip! If you're on Instagram, you can browse through that too as I post more often there. Thanks so much for being a long time follower, that's pretty much since I started my blog. Hope Totto in Taiwan lives up to your expectations!

Eddie said...

You're welcome. It's the least I could do after spending an hour reading the blog last night. It just happened that you had started your blog before I came to Taiwan to study in 2006. So I found it when looking for places to eat. It made the other exchange students impressed that I knew all these great places, haha. I have checked out the Instagram, it's driving me nuts ;) Keep up the good work.

Gemma said...

Mmm now that temperatures are starting to be cooler, can't wait to try this place!

The Style Collector