Total Bill: $39.00
Lasting in Manhattan alone says something about your restaurant. Not only has Rai Rai Ken lasted, it’s moved two doors down from its original location to a larger, shinier space.
The glitzier locale inherently makes it lose some of its charm, but from what I can tell (it’s been years since I last waited an hour in the cold outside its first hold-in-the-wall site) the ramen remains the same.
The lure for me personally here is the extra corn. I’m not sure why not all ramen incorporates corn, but they should. My miso ramen was just the way I remembered it, with the aromatic crunchy garlic seeping into the saucy soup alongside the crunch of the corn.
Admittedly, the noodles could use some work. Hand-pulled noodles from, say, Momofuku or Totto Ramen are served in a far fresher al dente condition. A vital component yes, but I think the Rai Rai’s broth makes up for that.
They’ve stepped up with the pork buns too. It’s not their specialty, so they remain subpar to what you’ll find at Momofuku, but does make their menu a little more dynamic.
There are holes Rai Rai can fix, but if you’re there for the ramen, this place has stayed true to its art. Rai Ria doesn’t make Pete Wells of the NY Times‘s top 10 New York ramen restaurants, but it does in my book.