Monday, January 5, 2009

Slurpin' USA: Rai Rai Ken

destitute undergrads and desk-bound office drones agree; when it comes to cheap eats on-the-fly, CUP NOODLES reigns supreme. however, if you are longing for a ramen upgrade, perhaps it's time to give the genuine article a slurp.

Rai Rai Ken
214 E 10th Street
New York, NY 10003-7706
Phone: (212) 477-7030

rai rai ken specializes in one thing: RAMEN. the seating is cramped, the service is rushed and the waits are long, but the price is right and the ramen never disappoints. you are best advised to visit on an off day or at an off hour; flocks of hungry NYU students and japanese ex-pats overload the 14-seat venue.

-- no worries; the turn-around is quick, you won't find yourself in line long.

miso ramen --
soy bean based noodle soup topped with bean sprout, cabbage, onion, crispy garlic, chicken, and scallion

the robust, full-bodied broth is a thing of beauty; curiously bold yet refined. a mound of crisp-fried garlic chips bequeath their sharp sweetness to each bite, slicing through the thick broth like little golden razors. the stewed chicken and hearty cabbage warm the body and sooth the soul with their comforting sensibilities. i highly recomend this dish as a starter RAMEN for any first timers.

shio ramen --
house special seafood based noodle soup topped with bamboo shoot, boiled egg, roast pork, spinach, fish cake, dry seaweed, and scallion

light and refreshing if not a tad bit salty. the freshly wilted spinach pair well with the pickled bamboo shoots while the unctuous slices of slow-roasted pork shoulder and hard boiled egg are welcome countermeasures to the piquant brothiness of the dish as a whole. the generous portion of fresh, yet playfully chewy noodles guarantee slurps-a-plenty.

i asked for mine with xtra fish cakes :-)

kimchi --
chinese cabbage, radish, garlic, ginger, scallion, red pepper, salt, sugar, anchovy sauce

i can't say for sure if it's house made or not, but it certainly tastes unique. less tang than most; a bit on the sweet side. garnished with a heap of fresh scallion - it's not the best kimchi i've ever had, but i order it every time.

© 2009 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" -


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