Monday, September 7, 2009


I was craving something hearty and good for lunch. I wanted something soul satisfying. For me, that usually comes in the form of Asian food. Sushi is good but not hearty. Chinese food is really good. However, authenticity is a challenge in Midtown. Then it struck me: Japanese ramen! A quick search and I was brought to Sapporo. It was close and cheap. Perfect! The lunch menu wasn't very large but it had enough choices. I was definitely going to have ramen. But which one? I decided on the Shoyu Ramen ($7.50). It's a soy sauce based soup with noodles, pork, and veggies. I also opted for some gyoza ($5). Dumplings are very close to my heart. They always scream comfort food when I eat them. I sat at the counter and watch the chefs make the food. I was right in front of the ramen guys. So I studied their actions. A couple of things: they don't do ramen in the traditional Japanese way. The broth isn't slowly simmered and worked on all day. They worked in a more Chinese noodle way: quick cooking the noodles, then adding them to bowls of miso paste and hot broth. I was a little worried. I wasn't looking for Chinese noodles. I wanted Japenese ramen. When presented with the bowl, it was smaller than I thought. But it looked good. A quick taste of the noodles and my worries melted away. They were al dente and the broth was okay. I've had much better before but it was doable, especially for Midtown. With the gyoza, I had no worries. They brought out fresh gyoza ready for a hot pan. Once in there, they didn't touch it and that created a nice crispy bottom. The filling was the usual meat and cabbage. It was exactly what I was looking for. The slightly vinegary soy sauce was a perfect compliment. I was happy with what I received from Sapporo. It wasn't a fancy Japanese place. Instead, they served ramen the way it should be served: fast, hot, and good. People come in and out constantly during the lunch rush hour. The chefs yell orders in Japanese back and forth. The service is fast but adequate. I enjoyed it very much.

Sapporo 152 W 49th St New York, NY 10019 (212) 869-8972

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