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