So I’ve had many a noodles soups throughout my Winters in New York and have yet to find one that’s as savory as the generous portions at Rai Rai Ken. While Ippudo and some St. Marks places may come close, Rai Rai Ken is really the most authentic, secret little gem in the East Village right off 2nd Avenue on 10th Street. This tiny eatery can seat no more than 20 or so guests at any one time with stools lined along the wooden bar connected to the open stove and grill.
Going on weekends around dinner time usually requires at least a half an hour wait, but it’s worth your time. I usually go for the miso ramen with an extra serving of loose corn. The noodles are freshly made and firm. And the best part is the topping of roasted garlic that gives the whole dish a unique touch of flavor and aroma. For something lighter, go for the shio ramen with a clear, less creamy broth, that’ll soothe a cold better than any chicken noodle soup.
Both their seafood and pork fried rice serve as great appetizers. Lightly salted and perfectly seasoned, start with this if you’re really hungry going in. Otherwise, a bowl (or two if you’re Cecil) of ramen is usually enough to fulfill any appetite!
One note though – I’ve ordered delivery from Rai Rai before and it’s not nearly as good as dining on site. There’s just something different about taking in a fresh bowl of soup right off the stove in this quaint little canteen-like diner.