Sunday, October 14, 2012

Ramen Takumi

J and I walked past this place on the same day we had Rai Rai Ken, but because it was packed we ended up going to RRK instead - which ended in a big disappointment.

This time around, I wanted to come here because it was late, cold and I was hungry (and you know how fast ramen can be served up). I felt a blast of warm air hit me as I opened the door and as I sit longer, it started to get really hot. The waiter asked us if we like to take the seats by the bar and of course we said yes. J and I have no problem sitting anywhere, as long as the waiters don't forget us and we get to be served.

I ordered the Syo-yu Ramen, J got the Curry Ramen and we both shared a plate of Gyoza since it's been a long time.

The Gyoza ($5) was mediocre, there wasn't enough meat in the filling. Although the sauce that accompanied it was really good, not too salty which means I can take the whole piece of dumpling and drown it in there. I learned that don't eat your gyoza right away when they serve it, wait for 5-10 minutes for a guarantee crunch, if it don't crunch then you found yourself a bad gyoza place.

I really liked J's Curry Ramen ($11.50). The bowl was so aromatic with curry flavor. Extremely flavorful without the crazy spicy taste to it. Straight noodles was being used in the bowl of heaven.

I stuck to a simple Syo-yu Ramen ($10.95) because I really needed to wash away that icky memory of RRK's horrible experience of a ramen. Thankfully, even though it wasn't 100% great, it was still a lot better than RRK.

They used the wavy noodles which I find to be a bit odd but other than that, the noodles were delicious. Perfectly cooked with that al-dente bite to it. The pork meat was good also, nice seasoning with the right amount of fat circling it.

I still prefer their Curry Ramen over anything because it's that dam good, probably one of the best curry ramen I've ever had. Now if only they put the wavy noodles in the curry bowl...*drools*

Ramen Takumi
90 University Pl
New York, NY 10003
(212) 229-2752

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

San Soo Kap San

I was craving for some Korean BBQ and after my coworker told me how good this place was, I knew I had to go. J and I arrived at SSKS on a Tuesday night around 8:30pm. The restaurant was pretty empty but I definitely didn't mind it.

We got down to business and ordered asap.

There was a wide selection of banchan and every single one of them tasted excellent. I loved the kimchi the best, they even refill your banchan. Beside the banchan, there's also complimentary miso soup, grilled mackerel and steamed egg. My favorite part is definitely the sauces, love me some miso paste dip.

First up, is the Sam Geup Sal ($20.95). They give you 3 strips here instead of 2, so the awesomeness of this place just went up because we get an extra piece. It also tasted a lot better here for some reason, must be the freshness or the cut of the meat.

I mainly wanted to come here for their Angus Kalbi ($29.95).
We also ordered the Haemool Pajun ($15.95), you can probably see that in the photo below...

The beauty of BBQ-ing. The kalbi was extremely tender and flavorful, no need for sauces here.

The way I eat the pork belly. Lettuce, kimchi, pork belly, miso paste - put into mouth. Heaven!

Our meat piled on the side of the grill. So friggin delicious!

I'm definitely returning. Everything about this place was pretty dam amazing.
The waitress helps you cook tableside so you literally don't have to do anything. There's a free salad bar with unlimited amount of yummy oranges for after the meal. They even have a TV screen that was displaying soccer, win!

Probably the best thing would be how laid back it was. No one rushed us and I truly appreciate that. I rather go on a weekday when it's not busy at all rather than the weekends when you're literally fighting at the salad bar. This place closes at 2am so plenty of time for some great late night grilling.

San Soo Kap San
17110 Northern Blvd
Flushing, NY 11358
(718) 445-4850

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Rai Rai Ken

Rai Rai Ken was a staple for J and I when we wanted a quick fix of ramen. It was a small tight spot but the service was quick and the food was pretty dam good.

It's been a while since we gone back to RRK and the fact that it moved over 2 storefronts made us have mixed feelings if we should go and give it a shot.

After a blistering night and morning of me having a hangover, J thought it would be best to have something hearty and soup-y for dinner. We chose Rai Rai Ken. Upon arrival, there was already 2 parties ahead of us and we had to write our name down on the pad that is hung on the wall, I sense they trying to be like Totto Ramen.

The wait wasn't long but as we were waiting outside, we overheard a passerby saying "this place taste pretty awesome when you're totally wasted," I would totally disagree with him just because you can't just eat ramen, you need to truly taste ramen. We got called in and seated in about 10 minutes, which isn't a bad wait.

The new RRK is a lot bigger and has a lot more space. They even have individual tables for 2 than can turn in a larger area for those with bigger groups. They have new items on their menu which is fine, since bigger storefront usually mean a more extended menu.

I don't know if it was because J and I were hungry, but the Rai Rai Ken Salad ($6) was pretty good. Consisted of jelly fish, vermicelli, shredded chicken, cucumber, cilantro, carrots, bean sprouts, and lettuce in a sesame dressing. Tasted quite light and refreshing and a great starter.

Another new item on the menu beside the salad was the Pork Buns ($7.50). I've definitely had better pork buns but what I liked about this was the soft and fluffy texture of the bun. Aside from that, the pork was extremely small and it was loaded with hoisin sauce that really took away the true taste of a pork bun.

My Shoyu Wonton Ramen ($10.50) came and the first thing I noticed...

...the wontons are friggin tiny, the fillings are the size of a pinky nail and it was pretty bland. Actually, everything in the bowl was bland. The broth, which is soy sauce based was flavorless, where is the soy-ness?! My beloved bamboo shoots was bland also, I was so happy when I saw the amount they gave but the quality was pretty bad.

I think the most disheartening aspect of the bowl of ramen are the noodles. It was really overcooked and bunched up together like a coagulated mess. The only best part of the bowl was the egg, sadly to say.

J's Shio Ramen w/ corn and butter ($11). His seafood broth was a tad bit more flavorful than mine but the noodles were still below par.

After finishing the whole meal, I realized that the passerby words were correct. I probably need to be wasted to be able to enjoy this, well maybe not enjoy but I most likely wouldn't even care what I eat. RRK has showed that expanding doesn't make them better, hence the lack of patrons in the restaurants, especially Japanese patrons.

I probably won't be coming back unless a miracle happens.
RRK had truly lost us.

Rai Rai Ken
218 E. 10th St
New York, NY 10003
(212) 477-7030