Tag Archives: Soba-Ya

Rai Rai Ken, the ramen battle continues.


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 restaurantsand 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.

I get my salmon sashimi fix at Soba-Ya. Yes, at a noodle restaurant.


Soba-Ya
229 E 9th St
(between 2nd Ave & 3rd Ave)
New York, NY 10003

Soba-Ya is, of course, known for its soba.  They market themselves as a Japanese noodle restaurant and proudly display this anonymous quote on their homepage: Sobaya’s handmade noodle … sheer joy!  Soba is a gluten-free buckwheat noodle that when made correctly, is supple, slightly chewy, and retains an earthy flavor.  Gluten is a crucial ingredient because it is what holds the dough together and gives it its springiness.  Without gluten, the dough can easily become very dense… ever had a bad gluten-free loaf?  Yeah, you know what I’m talking about then.  It is very difficult to make great soba, which is probably why it is so expensive to have good soba in New York.  The noodles are usually served on a bed of ice with a chilled, light dipping sauce on the side, or in a warm noodle broth.  The photograph above is of the Kamo Seiro, soba with duck dipping sauce.  This is a combination of the two aforementioned serving methods as the noodles are not cold, but are room temperature, and the dipping sauce is piping hot.

Yes, yes, the soba is great but the real reason I come to Soba-Ya all the time is for this:

Continue reading I get my salmon sashimi fix at Soba-Ya. Yes, at a noodle restaurant.

Soba-Ya: Buta Kakuni (braised pork belly with poached egg in soy sauce broth)

Soba-Ya
229 E 9th St
(between 2nd Ave & 3rd Ave)
New York, NY 10003

 

First very important note: ask to have this come with your noodles or rice. The soup and pork belly are so flavorful that you’ll want to have something with it.

 

The pork belly is tender and surprisingly lean.  I find that most pork belly dishes come with fat juicy pieces: half fat, half meat. To be honest, I did wish there was a little more fat because the large piece of lean pork belly seemed a bit dry at times.  The egg actually did not resemble a poached egg as the yolk was not runny in the center. The yolk had somewhat condensed a bit and was at that beautiful transition between watery and fully cooked. The center was orange and had an amazing soft yet bouncy texture (vivacious viscous viscera as a friend said). It was more a soft-boiled egg than a poached egg, which I tend to prefer anyway. This egg rivals my favorite seasoned soft-boiled egg at Ippudo. The broth was light and was complimented very well by the fresh scallions.