Category Archives: Greenwich Village

14 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Ippudo Ramen with My T

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  I’ve tried a lot of ramen in Manhattan, and Ippudo’s still remains my favorite.

Whoah am I lagging behind on this soup journey.  Illness has plagued me yet again for three weeks so far, but it’s time to finally tell you about Ippudo’s Akamaru Modern Ramen ($14).

Ippudo's Akamaru Modern Ramen

According to the menu, the ingredients are: “the original tonkotsu” (pork) soup noodle with Ippudo’s special sauce, miso paste, fragrant garlic oil, pork chashu, 1/2 seasoned boiled egg, beansprouts, kikurage (black ear wood mushrooms) & scallions.  I added menma (braised bamboo shoots) for an extra $2.

I ordered this big bowl despite my lack of appetite.  When I texted my go-to gal, T, to keep me company after waking up in the dark of day, I didn’t think she would suggest getting ramen, let alone Ippudo ramen.  It was 4pm, and she wasn’t anywhere near the area.  When I agreed to go, I didn’t think I’d order anything to eat, even though I knew I had to blog about this at some point.  But it was too hard to resist when I sat down and looked at the menu and other people’s bowls.

The following review is based mostly on my fond memories of past experiences since I ate this recent bowl too fast and totally forgot to pay attention to what I was eating.  That’s how good it was.  It disappeared before I could remember that I didn’t feel like eating and had to take notes.

The broth is rich and porky, just the way I like it.  If you didn’t know better, you’d think their secret ingredient was milk.  And it blends nicely with the secret sauce and miso paste.  The noodles are cooked relatively al dente, although I like mine a tad firmer.  The optional menma adds a nice crunch to each bite, and I have no recollection of the wood ear mushrooms.  They’re usually tasteless anyway.  The one thing I do remember about this experience is that the garlic oil was too much for me.  I could smell it right when the bowl was put in front of me.  I even made a comment to T that it smelled like a lot of garlic, and she said there was no garlic.  Just goes to show how sensitive I am to it.  Garlic lovers will probably barely notice its existence.  Finally, the pork chashu – I do remember the pork, so succulent that it just melts in your mouth.

So, while I woke up feeling alone and miserably sick, Ippudo’s Akamaru Modern Ramen and T made me feel a lot better.  I hope Ippudo will continue to be there for me in my worst moments just like T has since the first time I met her.  I really had the best of the best with me that day.

Ippudo NY
65 4th Avenue (btwn 9th and 10th Sts.)
New York, NY
(212) 388-0088


Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!


11 & 12 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – The Power of One, The Generosity of Many: Kicking Things Into Gear

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  If you’re looking for plentiful, cheap and pretty decent soup, then try both of these.

Monday and Tuesday night were probably not the best nights to have slightly spicy soup.  Stomach issues for the past week and a half have really put a damper on my appetite.  But that’s really never stopped me from at least attempting to eat.  My dad always said, “As long as you know you’ve tried your best…”  I think he’d be proud of me right about now.

I went to Cascabel Taqueria on the Upper East Side on Monday night, alone, for some Sopa De Tortilla ($5) with chicken, queso fresco (fresh cheese), Mexican oregano, fried pasilla (big-ass, blackish-brown, medium-hot chile, aka “chile negro”) and tortilla.  Then, Tuesday night, I met T and M at Galanga in the West Village for some $9.50 “Khao Soi” (according to New York Magazine) – aka “Chiangmai Curry Noodle” (according to the actual menu at the restaurant) – with tofu (or chicken, if you wish), mild yellow curry sauce, egg noodle, pickled cabbage (mmm!), crispy shallots, scallion, and red onions.

Got all those ingredients in your head?  Good.

Cascabel Churros and Luchadores

Eating by yourself at a public space is always interesting.  A couple of years ago I wouldn’t have been able to brave it alone.  But, in a city that never sleeps, any time you can take for yourself is precious – time to breathe, read a book or magazine, reflect about your career and relationships and figure out how you want to change the world…if you want to change the world.

Normally, a time of reflection would go well with a hot bowl of good soup, but I just wasn’t hungry at the time.  I only went to Cascabel because I had a meeting in the area, and I wasn’t sure when I’d be back.  With about 30 minutes to spare, I stood in line by the cashier for a few minutes before realizing I should just take a seat at the bar.  The space was small, but it still had a lot of character with all the luchadores (think Nacho Libre) throughout, and it still felt comfortable and airy.

The bowl of Sopa de Tortilla came out in a simple, sleek, silver tray with two small lime wedges on

Cascabel's Sopa De Tortilla

the side.  The presentation excited me.  So much going on in the bowl.  The 6-inch long fried pasilla resting on top made me stop and say “whoah” before putting it aside.  The abundance of light pink-ish/ivory chicken, fresh green cilantro, fried brown oregano, and red tomato made for a colorful palette to mix with the creamy white melted chunks of fresh cheese hiding at the bottom.  The tortilla chips added some texture, providing a soft crunch to every bite, and the medium heat from the chile pieces gave me a slight wake-up call.  But, unfortunately, I had to give myself a rest after only three spoonfuls and asked for the rest of it to go.  I tried to eat more when I got home a few hours later, but, by that time, the tortilla chips had selfishly soaked up most of the liquid.  I’ll beat them to it next time!

*     *     *     *     *

Tuesday night, the Chiangmai Curry Noodle Soup at Galanga had some relatively high expectations to meet:  T is Thai, but that’s exactly why I told her she had to come with me.  Interestingly enough, when we were chatting about this a few days before, she said she had never actually eaten this dish since it was from a different region of Thailand.  She was still Thai, though, and would know much more than I would.

I took a look at the menu and almost had a heart attack since I couldn’t find “Khao Soi” anywhere.  I looked through a second time, and finally noticed that the restaurant called it something else entirely.  Phew!  My noodle soup ended up being pretty darn big, and I, surprisingly, ate the whole darn thing, leaving only a few spoonfuls of broth.

Galanga's Chiangmai Curry Noodle Soup

Does that mean I thought it was the best bowl of noodle soup I’ve ever had?  Definitely not.  The small, extra firm, medium-sized chunks of tofu somehow didn’t fit in.  They should maybe think about cutting them into much smaller slices, like the rest of the ingredients.  Or maybe that’s my OCD-ness talkin’.  I took out most of the raw red onions since my stomach yells at me every time I eat too much.  The pickled cabbage, however, made me smile.  The vinegary sourness contrasted well with everything else.  The broth was not overwhelmingly creamy from the coconut milk, but it definitely needed an extra kick of something to save it from a slight blandness, as T mentioned.  We also agreed that the noodles were overcooked for our tastes.  More al dente, please!  Perhaps a texture between the soft, main noodles and the fried, crispy birds nest sitting on top.  But, overall, it obviously satisfied me since there was barely anything left.  I’d probably have it again if I was in the area and craved something like this.

During dinner, and well after our dishes were removed, T, M and I had a pretty lively night just chatting and laughing away.  It was a nice change from the quiet night before.  This is the second time it was just the three of us hanging out, and there was no shortage of new stories, revelations and observations about each other.  These are two generous women who give a lot to their friends and who have a much higher tolerance than I do for those that have “unique” personalities.  I feel lucky that they put up with my low tolerance, and they can feel lucky that my low tolerance has welcomed them into my world. ;p

What I’ve learned from these friendships and from two books I’ve recently read* is that one person alone has the ability to begin the process for extraordinary change.  But it’s the generosity of many along the way who help kick you into gear, keep you going and fulfill your dreams.

*Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time, and The Blue Sweater:  Bridging the Gap Between the Rich and the Poor in an Interconnected World

Cascabel Taqueria
1542 Second Avenue (at 80th St.)
New York, NY

148 W. 4th Street (at 6th Ave.)
New York, NY


Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!

3 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Billi-Bi Scored a “B,” but I Scored a Meaningful Night Out

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  Meh, not worth the $13 or the long wait.

This past Friday night, after T and I watched Up in the Air and left with the question of “Who was right (about love)?”, we met M for our 10:30 pm reservation at Minetta Tavern.  We were three women on a corner (at Minetta Lane and MacDougal Street) with one main mission – to experience a bowl of Billi-Bi (Cream of Mussel) soup that would satisfy our evening.

M and I were especially excited because we both love soup, and it had taken two tries before we could get any kind of reservation.  When we got there, the big bouncer outside asked what time our reservation was.  When I said 10:30, he looked at his watch and said, “Right on time!” and opened the door to let us in.  Was he going to make us wait outside if we were too early?  Or throw us on the street if we were late?  Right then I had an inkling that I wasn’t going to enjoy the overall experience.

Walking into the dimly lit restaurant, which was most certainly tavern-like (albeit more upscale than normal), the three of us were greeted by a scene that we normally wouldn’t seek out.  Stuffy and snooty, it just made me want to take some more cold medicine so I could blur everything out.  Our $14 house specialty cocktails didn’t help either since there was barely any alcohol in them.  Perhaps if they didn’t skimp on the liquor, I would’ve been more patient waiting 45 minutes before finally being seated.  At the very least, they offered us three glasses of champagne and a better table at a booth to apologize, but the wait was still inexcusable.  Improving their reservation method should be a top priority.  Nothing like angry guests to ruin your reputation…and sour their meal.

Minetta Tavern's Billi-Bi

When we finally got comfortable, our waiter took our order:  three Billi-Bi’s (and one special pork entrée that we’d share).  The Billi-Bi arrived as a beautiful hue of orange soup filled with fresh, plump mussels (three in the shell and three out), decorated with some parsley and topped off with a crostini.  Perfectly seasoned, it reminded me of a milkier butternut squash soup.  I know that cream is often one of the main ingredients and was surprised (and glad) that this version still tasted light.  The pleasantly meaty mussels were definitely the highlight of the bowl (even though I had one gritty bite).  But, I have to say, even with all my kind words, Minetta Tavern’s Billi-Bi didn’t blow me away, especially for $13.  I’d rather get three of Taste Good’s noodle soup for that price.

The real standout of the evening for me was the company.  Sitting there with T and M, two spectacular women – 7 years apart – who were sharing a few more pieces of their lives with me and making me laugh through non-stop conversation, my surroundings and initial experience were finally blurred.  I don’t know who was right about love in Up in the Air, but I do know that I appreciate thoughtful people (and more thoughtful restaurants).  While my friends and I may differ in many ways and disagree at times, I will always be warmed when they simply think to contact me to share a few more memories…so much more so than a $13 Billi-Bi at Minetta Tavern.

Minetta Tavern
113 MacDougal Street
New York, NY

Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!