Leffing New York: Lunch at Sapporo

Categories collide in this post. Yesterday, I went to see Michael Frayn’s “Democracy” with Kirk, and James Felder (he of his own category) decided to meet us. We deferred to Jim Leff’s “Gourmet Guide” (that of the present category) and decided to lunch at Sapporo. Here’s James, Kirk and some stranger standing beneath the sign. (If the stranger’s name were T, they’d be James, T, Kirk.) (Nerd alert! Nerd alert!)


Here’s Leff’s take: “Sapporo is neither a fast-food noodle joint nor an elegant Asian Cuisine Experience. Rather, imagine a beloved Japanese truck stop serving good, honest, unpretentious chow slung (if indeed Japanese food can be slung) fast and cheap. Westerners expecting the standard sleek decor and prissy presentation will be disappointed, but those who crave unaffectedly plebian Japanese flavors will return again and again, as do multitudes of homesick Japanese.”

Here’s James Felder’s take: “Sapporo’s ramen is more authentic, but Momofuku’s* tastes better.”

*Ok, I have a confession to make. A couple of months ago–well, not that many–I went to Momofuku with my friend Jason and I didn’t tell you about it. And, by God, it was delicious. I really want to go back. In fact, I will and next time I promise, Tina, I swear girl, I won’t be bad to you anymore, ok? I’ll take pictures, all right? You know I love you baby. You just make me act crazy, girl.

Now then, as for Sapporo, I think James is right-on. This ramen seems highly authentic:


I enjoyed, for example, the fish cakes tucked beneath the noodles. I’ve never, in fact, had fish cakes and these were exciting to eat—more textually and visually than flavorfully, but exciting nonetheless. The broth had a nice kick to it and the noodles were what the Italians would call “al dente.” The corn studded throughout threw me off a bit, but I regained my composure and proceeded to enjoy it.

But, I must say, I know Momofuku’s ramen and you sir are no Momofuku.

These potsticker thingies (ok, I know they aren’t called potstickers but they’re potstickeresque) were tasty:


And the lunch scene, incidentally, was wild–I forgot to mention that. We got there just in time: soon enough there was a line out the door. People really dig this place. It’s a bustling authentic Japanese noodle joint. If you’re in midtown and crave noodles, Jim (Leff), James, T, Kirk, Spock and I highly recommend it.

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