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