Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Rai Rai Ken 07-07-2009

Location: 214 E. 10th st.
Time: 7pm
People: RB and myself

Feelings: RB and I often go to, or try to go to, Rai Rai Ken for its authentic Japanese ramen shop vibe and stick to your ribs broth. It is still to this day my favorite ramen shop in the city. Its narrow counter seating, greasy aroma, and hall-in-the-wall ambiance all come together in wonderful noodly harmony. In here, there is a man. He is a middle aged Japanese businessman deep in an Osaka ramen shop, sitting at the counter, slurping greasy ramen and sipping a cold Kirin. He groans about his misery of overworking and difficult family life, but his soul is warmed by the flavor and atmosphere. He gently and casually shows a tiny smile. Ramen should be enjoyed in this type of desolate setting, and Rai Rai Ken successfully delivers the ambiance.

I usually order shio ramen, but since it is summer, I switched it up to Hiyashi Chuka. It came with fresh vegetables, sun dried tomatoes, chewy cold noodles and tangy dressing. I am not sure about the choice of sun dried tomatoes since I prefer fresh tomatoes for the dish. Sun dried tomatoes tend to overpower a dish and did not mix well with the dressing well. The noodles were perfectly eggy and chewy with a hint of greasiness.

RB's mabo tofu ramen was decent, but he did not enjoy the ground meat. He thought they were grounded pork but tasted like beef instead. The broth was thick and tasty, and he said, "Tasted just like mabo tofu." He also prefers Rai Rai Ken's eggy noodles which are more flavorful and chewy.

Rai Rai Ken's decor and flavor might not be as refined as Setagaya or Ippudo, but it has the sincere charm and authenticity of ramen's roots. Their ramen is greasy, and you will need beer to wash it down, but that is the way you are supposed to enjoy ramen to begin with. Gyoza, ramen, and beer--oh what a ramen life!


Jose said...

Rai Rai Ken is one of those places in New York that encourages you to go alone. It is serious ramen with no pretensions or marketing gimmick. It is absolutely perfect on a bleak cold day.

Sara Shacket said...

sun dried tomatoes? yuck! eggy noodles...mmmm...I've never been to Rai Rai Ken, I must go soon!