Washington Height’s Tampopo Ramen is Manhattan’s northern most ramen bar. The place is named for, and decorated in reference to, the classic 1985 Japanese cult film about creating the perfect bowl of ramen. The restaurant is small, with an open kitchen behind the main ramen bar, and has a few small tables inside and a few more outside. All of their ramen soups use a chicken stock, and since I am a Pork-aterian, I skipped the soup and went for the Yaki Ramen Hakata Style dry ramen dish. This large plate of stir fried ramen noodles was mixed with slow-cooked pork chashu, kikurage mushroom, corn, bean sprouts, cabbage, carrot, scallions, and was topped with marinated egg. This Yaki ramen, and their Okonomiyaki, was really flavorful and I really enjoyed eating these two dishes.
The Dumplings: Tampopo Ramen was not as successful with its gyoza as it was with its noodles and Okonomiyaki. They serve the standard ramen joint looking pork gyoza and green dough wrapped veggie gyoza. Both plates of dumplings were very wet and floppy. The plates the gyoza were served on had built in wells or dimples to hold sauce, but in the transfer of the plates from the kitchen to our table, the sauce spilled into the plate and the dumplings were served sitting in sauce. I am not sure if this accounts for the wetness of the gyoza or if they were also over steamed. Basically these were the food service gyoza supplied to most ramen or sushi joints in NYC, just most places prepare them better than this effort from Tampopo. My suggestion is, that if you want an appetizer before your ramen, get the Okonomiyaki. You don’t often see Okonomiyaki available in NYC and Tampopo Ramen does it well.
The Location: Tampopo Ramen is in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood, a little north of the George Washington Bridge. It is on Bennett Ave, just off of 181st street. Take the A train to 181st street and walk east on 181st street for about a block and Bennett Ave is on your left.