Rai Rai Ken
214 E 10th St
(between 1st Ave & 2nd Ave)
New York, NY 10003
GAHHH! I just found out that my favorite East Village Japanese restaurants are all owned by one… person. How is this possible?! Soba-Ya, Robataya, Cha-An, Curry-Ya, Shabu-Tatsu are among my favorites that one person calls his own. Mr. Bon Yagi came to the U.S. as a dishwasher and somehow worked his way up to owning 11 Asian restaurants* and at one point, owning a diner that often saw folks like Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, and Madonna. To say the least, I am impressed. Most of his restaurants are rated 4-4.5 out of 5 stars on Yelp and each of them is someone’s “favorite” Japanese restaurant. Rai Rai Ken is Mr. Yagi’s ramen venture.
After my sister-ramen-restaurant battle post, many readers suggested I try Rai Rai Ken, another one of those renown ramen places in the city. Everyone has their favorite (Totto Ramen) and though I am known to be a very loyal customer (Totto4Life), I am always willing to try other favorites – mainly because I like to try new places but also because I like to re-confirm that my favorite still rocks.
Pictured above is the Shoyu Ramen ($9.50), which is ramen in a soy sauce based noodle soup topped with bamboo shoot, boiled egg, roast pork, spinach, fish cake, dried seaweed, and scallion. I have to admit, this was a solid bowl of ramen. Rai Rai Ken also gets extra points for making the egg perfectly gooey in the center, like how Ippudo does it. But the roast pork was just okay… slightly tough and bland. Noodles were not particularly memorable, meaning they were good. Not overcooked and slightly springy. They didn’t fall apart when slurped (unlike Ippudo’s!!) but also weren’t as tasty nor chewy as Totto’s and Kambi’s. Broth was… good. Also not particularly memorable, but was definitely good. Continue reading Rai Rai Ken, the ramen battle continues.
214 E 10th St
(between 2nd Ave & 1st Ave)
New York, NY 10003
Okay, ignore the little turd in the corner of the plate. Ignore the little frozen green beans as well because they taste like the airplane kind (you know, the kind that has that funny aftertaste of frozen vegetables?). Focus on the perfect mound of rice and the gleaming Japanese vegetable curry.
Zoom in. So many veggies! Curry-Ya is a tiny little restaurant in the East Village that serves up a variety of curries, ranging from the original plain curry ($7), to the homemade hamburger curry ($11), to the berkshire pork cutlet curry ($13). You have the option to add toppings like corn, egg, mini hamburger (see turd-like thing in first photo), etc. If you go at lunch, the curry even comes with a nice simple salad with a homemade dressing that tastes like ginger miso dressing.
Before Curry-Ya, I always just made my own curry. With products like S&B Golden Curry being sold in almost every Asian supermarket, Japanese curry is very easy to make at home. So easy that it has become a staple for potlucks and parties, anything requiring mass production. However, Curry-Ya serves up “gourmet” curry (as they call it), curry that is made fresh and not from blocks of frozen paste. According to their website, the curry is made from a base of chicken and oxtail soup with a variety of vegetables, fruits, and spices. Does that make the curry better than the kind I make at home? Not… really. Curry-Ya’s curry tastes very similar to the curry packs that add apple, my favorite kind! The curry was definitely very yummy, slightly sweet and very fragrant. I just couldn’t taste a big difference between Curry-Ya and my homemade curry (I’m so good. Just kidding, S&B is so good). Continue reading “Gourmet” Japanese Curry at Curry-Ya