Wintertime has me craving soup. Delicious soup. And one of my favorite soups is ramen. Ramen is no longer just the dried noodles packaged with overly salty flavoring packets. The Japanese noodle soup has truly reached a significant peak of popularity lately with new ramen shops popping up every day, and the wait times at local favorites reaching the 2 and a half hour mark. The one problem with ramen (if there is a problem) is that most of the restaurants don’t deliver. And if they do… then it’s not always the best.
So in comes Rai Rai Ken. This hot East Village ramen joint was recently added to Seamless and it’s been quite a fan favorite. I was immediately excited when I saw their menu show up and last night was the night for it. Here’s what I ordered: a starter of Menma (marinated bamboo shoots), a Shoyu Ramen Noodle Soup, Negi Rice and An Nin Tofu for dessert. Would it arrive warm and in tact…?
It did! The order arrived in time and completely in tact. I really loved how they packaged each item — especially in regard to the ramen soup. The noodles and broth were separated with the noodles at the bottom of one long container and the smaller container of soup embedded inside that larger container at the top. It was a real packaging feat! After marveling at the amazing package and transport, I dove in to eat the ramen.
My biggest fail of the order was to not add additional roasted pork. A real rookie move that I will never make again. I had originally thought that the pork would be included, but it was not. So without the pork, the soup itself was a bit plain and suffered from a real lack of protein and fat. What it didn’t suffer from was a lack of salt! The shoyu broth is a soy sauced based pork and chicken broth. It was really nice, but a bit too clear and I wish it had a bit more creamy umami flavor to it. The noodles were really nice. They were chewy and not over-cooked at all. I was really impressed with how they held up.
After the ramen soup, I was a bit full, but decided to try the rice and menma. Menma was described on the menu as marinated bamboo shoots, seaweed, scallion, red pepper mix and soy sauce. I’m not sure why, but I love bamboo shoots. So while this choice of appetizer may seem weird, I loved it. they were cool and salty and a bit spicy. The Negi Rice was also really nice (like that rhyme?!) made with scallion and radish sprout, bonito flakes and seaweed. If I weren’t so full from the ramen soup, I probably would have eaten the whole thing. I loved the saltiness balanced with the fishy bonito flakes and fresh radish scallion mixture.
Last, but most certainly not least, I dove right in to the An Nin Tofu, described as almond tofu. While I’m not such a tofu lover, I had heard good rumblings about this dish from Rai Rai Ken. And let me tell you… I. Loved. It. If you like almond flavor, and you like not-too-sweet desserts, and you like tapioca, I think you will love this. The tofu was soft and creamy and silky. It had such a nice and subtle almond flavor that wasn’t overly sugary. There were some red beans and lychees mixed in there that added a sweet fruity flavor. I ate the whole thing and wished I had more. Next time, I’ll order two. It’s just that good. This amateur picture really just does not do it justice. I failed again.
Overall I really recommend Rai Rai Ken when you need your ramen fix but don’t want to leave your apartment or end up waiting for over 2 hours. While the ramen most definitely tastes better when you’re dining in the restaurant and being served fresh, this is an awesome option!