SEO, a traditional Japanese restaurant turns into a ramen noodle shop from the hours of 11pm – 2am everyday. I have never ate here during normal restaurant hours but the lore of a tasty bowl of ramen after a night of drinking has brought me here on more than one occasion. According to Yelp the transformation that happens makes the late night nickname Ramen Sanshiro.
SEO is located on 49th Street just West of 2nd Avenue. If you stumble in here after 11pm on any day of the week it is filled with according to NYMag “Japanese “salarimen” sporting crisp white shirts and deep, swaggering voices.” Needless to say I am the only person here after midnight that chooses to speak English.
Once you get over the awkward sense of displacement you have the choice of either Shoyu (soy flavored) Ramen or Shio (salt) Ramen. These two ramen options along with a few side dishes are the only food on the menu (they also offer Sapporo or Sake). Once you place the order it takes about five minutes for the waitress (there is typically only one) to bring you your steaming hot order.
I have only tried the Shoyu but the noodles are yellow noodles and taste really good and served el dente. The ramen bowl is served with half of a soft-boiled egg with a runny yolk (so good) and a small piece of thinly sliced pork. The broth has a really good flavor profile but is not as rich as I have had other places (probably better off for late night!). They have spice powder offered on the bar (awesome).
Again Sapporo/Ippudo are still my favorite options but you can’t beat the secret ramen at SEO for a late night post drinking meal. If you are in the neighborhood I definitely recommend it.
UPDATE: Last week I ordered from here for pickup during normal restaurant hours. I tried their “Inaniwa udon noodles” which are freshly made with ingredients imported from Akita, Japan. The claim that they stay el dente after cooked proved to be true. Embarassingly the only time I ever ate Udon prior was at Cafe Duke. This udon is different it is the same size as a Linguini and the noodles were beautifully textured. The broth was flavorful but did not live up to the “stellar” NY Mag claim. It was also an expensive dish at $13. My vote is to stick with the after hours ramen.
Midtown Late Night Ramen!
Egg cooked properly
Offers extra spice on the side
Overall Rating: 4/5 (compared to other local late night food spots)
Recommended Dish: Shoyu Ramen--DBlock
I first went here a few months back when this place and the sister location (Totto Ramen) first opened. Back then it still wasn’t the best ramen I have had in NY but I really liked that they had two different scales to truly customize your order of ramen. The first was for the richness of the broth and the second was for how you wanted your noodles cooked. At Hide Chan there are about 8-10 different ramen dishes to choose from but these additional options made me feel like my choice was made especially for me. The first time I went I ordered the richest broth, which was a bit too garlicky and fatty, but I thought the next level down would be perfect.
Unfortunately on my latest trip to Hide Chan I discovered that they no longer have the scales for noodle firmness and broth richness. This was one clear advantage over any other ramen place. The broth was much more watery than a few months ago. The pork was ok but it is better at several other places including SEO & Ippudo.
There is no spice powder as I have seen in other ramen houses but there is a can of fresh red pickled ginger strips and sesame seeds.
I ordered the Hakata Spicy Ramen, which had a full flavored broth, but I would have liked the option to add more spice and richness. I added a boiled egg to the order and was not a big fan of how they cooked the egg. I was expecting an addition that could be added in and stirred into the dish but this was literally a hard-boiled egg floating in my ramen.
There aren’t many other ramen options in Midtown East so I am giving this an extra half star since it is convenient to many offices and my apartment.
Different ramen choices
Less expensive than Ippudo
Place seems to be going downhill
Lack of spiciness in spicy ramen
Pork is so-so and small pieces
Egg was not cooked to my liking
Additions are all $1+
Rating: 3 Stars
Anyone have any favorite Ramen spots I should check out this winter? Let me know in the comments.--DBlock