A dad and his daughters, loving life in New York City

Friday, January 5

Rai Rai Ken

I was in the East Village last Saturday afternoon, just killing some time solo before going to an early movie, when I got hit with a hankering for some ramen. Sadly, it was still too early for the great Momofuku to be open... happily, I live in a city with many, many eating options, and so I used the opportunity to finally sit at the battered bar of Rai Rai Ken, and for the first time sample some of their much-lauded noodles.

There are only about 15 seats here (they may have some tables out back in the summer), nearly all of which were taken at 4:00 in the afternoon. I asked the chef which was the best of the three soup options, and took his suggestion on the Shoyu Ramen, with, I think, mixed results. The rich, aromatic, soy-sauce based broth was eminently slurpable, and the generous tangle of ramen noodles was terrific: tasty and with just the right amount of snap. The toppings, however, failed to keep up with the soup's strong foundation: there were a few soggy bamboo shoots; one smallish, sad-looking piece of roast pork, which had me longing for the braised neck meat of Momofuku's beautiful Berkshire swine; too many scallions; a half of a hard-boiled egg (not to belabor the comparison, but the poached egg at Momofuku contributes a lot more flavor and texture to its dish); some scattered spinach leaves, no promised fish cake, and one dried seaweed square. I also ordered the Gyoza dumplings which, although appropriately greasy and plump with a vegetable and pork filling, mostly just tasted like scallions.

I don't mean to sound too negative, as this was not a bad meal by any means, especially for the $12 price tag. But there was nothing here that got me too excited, either. Rai Rai Ken is on 10th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues... right around the corner from Momofuku.

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Anonymous lwalz said...

Scoboco was a huge and successful resource for me this holiday season. I entertained 3 sets of visitors (from Seattle, Three Forks, MT and Denver and ages ranging from 10 to 75) here in nyc and everyone found cool things to do and places to eat in their widely varied interest areas and budgets. Some will continue to visit your blog as they commented on what fun your movie reviews were to read and one visitor is a chef and restaurant owner so he wants to keep up with the nyc food scene. Kudos and happy twenty oh seven!

11:25 AM, January 08, 2007

Blogger Scott said...

Wow! Thanks so much, lwalz... totally made my (rainy, gloomy) day to hear such nice things. Hope Lyd and Q are happy and well!

12:32 PM, January 08, 2007

Anonymous Debbie said...

Don't you think you should have a moment of silence for the passing of Momofuku Ando (aka the Ramen King)? Who knew Momofuku was someone's name?

5:57 PM, January 09, 2007

Blogger Scott said...

SUCH an excellent idea, gorgeous!

And so:

That was nice. In Japanese, of course, Momofuku means "lucky peach," making it a doubly-fun name to say, I think. If only I knew, 10, or 12, years ago...

Anyway, thanks for the fantastic comment, Debbie, which—and I'm being completely honest here, no exaggeration—totally warmed my heart, and made me smile.

6:39 PM, January 09, 2007

Anonymous Debaliecinema said...

TOTAL TM! Only I didn't want to sound "snarky" so I kept it to myself.

9:27 PM, January 09, 2007


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