Tuesday, October 2, 2012

RakiRaki

RakiRaki, a new ramen place, recently had its soft opening.

It’s located in the plaza with the horrible parking that also houses restaurants like Red Moon, Tapioca Express and Tofu House.

According to the menu, the restaurant is part of a chain of ramen restaurants from the JYOSUI Group in Nagoya under Chef Takeo Araki. None of that meant anything to me really, though the one thing on the bio that caught my attention was that they use alkaline water to make the soup as well as serving it to customers.

As you may recall, I first noticed the RakiRaki sign while driving home from Apple Korean House. When I took a peek inside, it looked under construction. But Faye emailed me to let me know that it would be opening September 26. So two days later, I was there to check it out. In fact, I was so curious to check it out that we actually came here after dinner. I guess this was like a late night snack? The interior still has some work to be done and the grand opening will be October 25, but they are currently open for dinner with a limited menu.

Inside, there are seats at the bar, a communal table in the middle, along with smaller tables around the edges of the restaurant.

Right away we were impressed with the service. Usually the service is pretty spotty and inconsistent when a restaurant first opens. While there was a little bit of a lack of coordination here, all the staff were very attentive. Each one of them came over several times to check on us, ask us if we had any questions. Even when we got our check at the end, they told us to stay as long as we wished.

Original

I debated between the original, which is their signature ramen, or the premium which is supposed to be richer. I was afraid the premium might be too salty so I opted to try the original. The ramen here is actually made with chicken broth. I really liked the large bowls that the ramen came in, including a plate underneath the bowl as well.

I found the ramen soup to be a tad too salty for my taste. Also the broth flavor was quite light. I couldn’t really taste much beyond a hint of chicken broth and water.

The noodles were served al dente, still a tiny bit hard, just how I like them. One thing I noticed is that they offer oxtail as an additional topping. I will have to try that next time. I did really enjoy the chashu though. Light, tender, not too fatty.

Tsukemen

DH agreed to order this because I was really curious. I’ve been wanting to try tsukemen after hearing about Tsujita in LA from some friends.  It’s a dipping ramen where the noodles are served dry and then you dip the noodles into a sauce.

The noodles were thick and chewy. We both really enjoyed this one though neither of us have had tsukemen previously so we didn’t have much of a comparison point. We liked the flavor of the sauce. For some reason though, once it got cold, suddenly the sauce got very salty whereas it hadn’t been too salty when it was warm. So I guess, eat this fast, while it’s warm.

Every table was given a bottle of alkaline water. I always think it’s funny that after you learn about something, you start noticing it popping up in your life. Earlier that day, we had gone to Whole Foods to purchase some alkaline water which I needed for my mooncake recipe. DH and I had a whole discussion on alkaline water and its benefits and then here we were hours later, at a restaurant serving alkaline water.

Interestingly, RakiRaki is also connected with a crepe place. It didn’t quite seem to fit with the image of RakiRaki, especially with the bright neon pink sign. We didn’t have room to try the crepes. Maybe next time.

Even though I wasn’t impressed with the original ramen, I enjoyed the tsukemen and would be curious to try this place again, especially once it is fully open. I really liked the service here. Having had quite a few ramen stops this last month, this was by far the best service we’d received. I am curious on how popular this place will get. It’s already located in what I think is the worst parking lot in San Diego. If this place gets very popular, the parking will only get more nightmarish.

The restaurant’s grand opening is October 25. Until then they are only serving dinner. I was going to ask them their hours, but I forgot and it’s not posted anywhere. I believe they are open late at least on weekends because we left around 10 and they seemed to still be open.

You can check out Ramen expert Dennis’ post here.

Here’s the soft opening menu:

RakiRaki
4646 Convoy St
San Diego, CA 92111

 

12 Responses to “RakiRaki”

  1. 1

    Dennis — October 2, 2012 @ 7:06 am

    Ha, I’m far from a true ramen expert but thanks Kirbie. I try to share what I know. With my schedule it probably won’t be till after grand opening and they start lunch service that I’ll get to visit more. Tsujita’s tsukemen should be a different experience it being mainly pork based, but I’m looking forward in trying RakiRaki’s. As for the ramen, I felt my Premium version was about where I’d wanted it. Like it was on the richer side for this style of shio but not by a whole lot I thought. Didn’t know the crepe shop next door was related to the management. I’m going to totally check it out and surprise you guys, haha. ;)

    • Kirbie replied: — October 2nd, 2012 @ 10:17 am

      I’m trying to figure out a time to go eat at Tsujita. Hehe, on the crepes. I didn’t realize it at first, but you can actually see them wrapping the crepes while sitting inside RakiRaki cuz the kitchen spaces sort of overlap slightly. I saw a lot of the kids getting them and then sitting inside Raki to eat them since there isn’t much seating space at the crepe place.

  2. 2

    Faye — October 2, 2012 @ 9:57 am

    Sis and I went to Tajima for ramen yseterday b/c this place was closed during lunch time :( I read Dennis’ post too and really want to try this place out. I’ve never had the ‘dipping’ ramen. Can you drink the broth afterwards?

    I’m always terrified that all the broths will be too salty but I wonder if you can request them to be ‘less salty’ (as you can at Santouka!).

    • Kirbie replied: — October 2nd, 2012 @ 10:18 am

      Definitely check this place out for dinner. I think, ideally, you are supposed to be able to drink the broth after. But it seems like most places make it too salty to drink it after.

  3. 3

    Kay — October 2, 2012 @ 10:28 am

    Mmm, that ramen would totally hit the spot for me today- it’s cold and rainy on the east coast!

    • Kirbie replied: — October 2nd, 2012 @ 10:31 am

      I keep craving ramen even though it’s been in the high 80s these last few weeks. We’re going through some heat wave. I’m kind of wondering what the heck I’ll be craving when it does get cold. heh

  4. 4

    Dennis — October 2, 2012 @ 12:10 pm

    The explanation of tsukemen on their menu is much too exaggerated. It’s basically like zaru soba where you lightly dip your cool noodles into a more concentrated sauce, usually too strong to sip by itself. Some places like tsujita will offer a broth after you’re done to thin it out and enjoy as a soup. But not all places do that. Then there are also places like Tetsu that offers a heated stone to place in your dip broth to heat it up halfway through your meal. One of the Achilles heel of tsukemen which made me not quite switch over. I still prefer ramen on most days but do enjoy a tsukemen when made right.

    • Kirbie replied: — October 2nd, 2012 @ 12:48 pm

      Ah, thanks for clarifying that. I thought that it should be too concentrated to be sipped by itself, but then I read the description on the menu saying you can drink after. I love the idea of heated stone since the sauce does get cold fast with all the dipping going on. I usually prefer ramen too, even in the heat. It’s funny, I was just thinking yesterday that I actually never had Japanese ramen or knew anything about the broth types, meat toppings, etc until about 3 years ago when my sister introduced me to it. Since then I’ve really gotten into it and love learning stuff from you!

  5. 5

    Jinxi — October 3, 2012 @ 1:08 pm

    The menu tsukemen description sounds so dramatic lol. Coincidentally I had JUST read about alkaline water.. like right before I opened Google reader and saw your post! I can’t wait to try out this place, but I do not look forward to finding parking…

    • Kirbie replied: — October 3rd, 2012 @ 2:29 pm

      Hehe, I went back and read the menu description after Dennis’ comment. It is dramatic. Oh that’s funny that you just read about alkaline water too. Yeah parking there is blah.

  6. 6

    Carol — October 4, 2012 @ 2:44 pm

    With the weather finally feeling like Autumn, I’ll be ready for a nice bowl of ramen soon. Between yours and Dennis’ reviews, I’ll be better armed to order when I do go.

    • Kirbie replied: — October 4th, 2012 @ 3:59 pm

      Heehee. I don’t know why but this heat has made me crave ramen like crazy. I’ve had ramen almost every weekend this last month. But I’m sure it will taste even better with this cooling weather.

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