NYC
Posted October 28, 2022

What is tsukemen (つけ麺; pronounced “skee-men”)? It’s basically thick udon served cold with a side of a thick soup/broth for dipping. In Los Angeles, I frequented a place in Sawtelle near the Westside called “Tsujita” that also specialized in something similar. Okiboru recently opened in Manhattan, and it’s famed for being on Michelin’s Bib Gourmand list in Atlanta. They do not take reservations, so when we arrived at this location at 5:15 PM on a Friday, the line outside was about 10 parties ranging from 2 to 6 people per group. It took us about 30-45 minutes of wait before we were seated.

Ambiance

The restaurant itself is very cozy and very tight. There’s not much decor in it that screams wow, but everyone is almost within an arm’s reach of the kitchen. They do not tables, but stools next to a counter top. When you are seated, there’s a QR code to scan that links directly to an online ordering system. This is where you place your order, and it queues it for the kitchen. Believe it or not, this is super efficient and effective if you are not someone that likes to banter back and forth. The menu is fairly limited with just 4 options of noodles and sodas. But you can see them make everything from scratch and serve everything as you order.

The service was top notch and super fast. Because you place your order via QR code, that means you also check out via your phone. They do not take cash which we have no issue with.

Food

The Tsukemen ($18.90 without extras) came with a rich chicken and fish broth on the side, chicken slices, full soft boiled egg (+$2), a lime wedge, seaweed, and cold thick udon noodles. The broth was fatty, thick, and salty by itself, but of course was an excellent coat for the noodles. Definitely keep in mind that this broth is not hot and probably more lukewarm. That is normal and expected. This is not really meant to be served hot as some might think. The chicken slices themselves tasted as if they have been sous vide, so it was mighty tender and juicy.

The Spicy Tsukemen ($19.90 without extras) also came with the same broth on the side, combination of pork and chicken chasu (+$3), a full soft boiled egg (+$2), scallions, a lime wedge, seaweed, and cold thick noodles. It was served with a side of a spicy soy bean type paste. This is where the money’s at. It’s really not that spicy, but it definitely added a lot of umami to the tip of the tongue. Not only was the broth very flavorful, but that little peppery kick at the end adds a nice touch. I ended up dumping the entire contents of the paste into the broth. The noodles was incredibly bouncy with the nice al-dente crisp to it. They give you a pretty good sized portion too. The chashu was decent, and definitely not the best I’ve had. It was fatty, but it had a slightly different sweet taste than I was expecting.

After you are done with the noodles, you can ask the wait staff for some soup broth to dilute your dipping sauce. This is where the magic happens. The soup broth appears to be the same that they used in the “tontori” menu. So you know you’re going to get some delicious flavors out of it. So that combined with this thick, rich broth was simply divine.

Final Verdict

The Okiboru House of Tsukemen is very delicious and highly recommended if you can stomach a 30-45 minute wait. I definitely recommend going with a small party size of 2 or less. If you are a party of 1, I’d open the door and tell them you are just 1. They can easily fit you in pretty quickly. If you haven’t had tsukemen before, this is definitely a great place to start.

Yelp Jabs

Unfortunately, the food just didn’t deliver on expectations. The tsukemen broth had both a pork and fish base and was decent, but the chilled noodles/egg/pork belly cooled the broth after just a few dips and the temperature of the bites plateaued an awkward cool-luke warm zone. As a superior alternative, I would recommend Tonchin to any ramen lovers in NY.

This Yelper had the wrong expectations and is conflating soup ramen with dipping ramen. The broth was never supposed to be hot. Yes, Tonchin is a delicious alternative for both tsukemen and ramen, but this Yelper needs to check their expectations again.

One thing I noticed was that my tontori noodles and soup were not piping hot, it was more of a lukewarm. Whether it was for the purpose of people eating faster or that’s just how they roll, I’m not sure

All the tsukemen I’ve had in the U.S. has served it the same way as Okiboru. This Elitist simply doesn’t know what tsukemen is and has set the wrong expectations for themselves. They might prefer the dipping broth to be hot, but that’s not how they do it in Japan or at any of the tsukemen restaurants.

Revisions

  1. Oct 28, 2022 - Initial revision.