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Tag Archives: lunch

Totto Ramen

Most of us are familiar with ramen, the Japanese noodle, in its instant form boiled down to the dull consistency of mush and soaked with MSG-laden miso soup that’s more water than miso. But for really good authentic ramen, look no farther than mid-town Manhattan’s Totto Ramen, offering freshly brewed broth and chewy noodles that actually taste egg-y. The younger and less expensive rival of Ippudo, Totto restaurant offers a limited palate of ramen and meager side dishes, but a smorgasbord of toppings and your choice of pork or chicken to go along with your noodles. In other words, it may be minimalist but it does what it does well.

Totto’s small crowded space means long lines, a waitlist, and often tables shared with strangers during lunchtime. One can opt to take a bar stool instead, and watch cooks practice their forte, or avoid the eatery’s unusual noontime opening rush by dining at a later hour. Prepare to bring green moola to this cash-only, no-advanced-reservations establishment.

For first timers, Totto Miso Ramen is the most appealing ramen to try with basic garnishes such as a boiled egg, scallions, and thick miso paste. Those who want a little raw sashimi with their modest-sized meal may want to nip at the Avo Tuna appetizer before happily tucking in.

Totto Ramen
366 W 52nd Street (Between 8th & 9th Avenues)
New York, NY 10019
(212) 582-0052

Totto Miso Ramen $10.50
Avo Tuna $4.50

Writer’s Tip: If you want to share your meal, make sure to ask the wait staff for an additional empty bowl. Extra utensils will already be provided on your table.


Roasted Butternut Squash, Feta, and Apple Salad

How much of a recipe do you have to change to make it your own? I often wonder this as I look through some of the reviews on different recipe sites where people say, “Well, I made this, but changed EVERYTHING about it”.  I found this recipe on Epicurious, but by the time I was done, it looked a whole lot different.

To be honest, I don’t really know what endives are, and blue cheese is such a strong flavor, I knew many in my house would turn their nose. So here’s my take on it, as well as instructions on easily dealing with a butternut squash — delicious but deadly without the right instruments.

Roasted Butternut Squash, Feta, and Apple Salad

1 butternut squash, cubed into 1″ pieces
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 green apples, matchsticked
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 head of romaine lettuce, torn up small

For butternut squash:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tsp brown sugar

For dressing:
1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice

Peel and cube squash**. Preheat oven 400 degrees. Whisk together vinegar and sugar. Brush squash with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast 5 minutes. Brush with vinegar and sugar mix, and roast another 5 minutes. Turn and shake it up, and then roast 45 mins-1 hour, or until soft and tender. Let cool, and add salt & pepper to taste. Combine with other salad ingredients, whisk together dressing and drizzle on top, and serve.

** Butternut squash is hard as a rock. To peel and cube it, you need a seriously sharp vegetable peeler, and a very long, extra-sharp knife. I’m not kidding.  Use low-quality tools, and you’ll be fighting with it, which can easily result in injuring yourself, and a trip to the hospital ain’t much fun.

Even with good instruments, this can take a while, so it can be done earlier and just stored in the fridge up to 1 day.  Cut the squash in half, separating the long skinny part from the bottom bulbous part. Cut off the ends, making yourself two cylindrical shapes that easily stand on a cutting board. Remove the seeds and string from the bottom half using a fork or a grapefruit spoon.  Peel in long skinny strips until you hit bright orange. Then cut in halves and halves again until you can easily cube 1″ pieces.