Rai Rai Ken
If you happen to be nursing a crippling hangover, add two points to this rating. According to ancient Japanese mythology (and this website), Rai Rai Ken shoyu ramen has unique healing properties and it regenerates liver cells. You’ll be hard pressed to find a better cure for those extra shots you took last night that made you so awesome at Buckhunter and girls.
There’s plenty of ramen in the East Village these days, and no shortage of opinions on where to go. We happen to believe that Rai Rai Ken sits near the top of the heap, mostly because that shoyu ramen is so good, but also because it’s inexpensive and simple. It’s one of our favorite places for Dining Solo on a Saturday afternoon. We don’t, however, recommend trying to go during prime lunch or dinner hours. The whole restaurant is about fifteen seats, all at a counter, and they’re almost always taken. If you do give it a shot, the good news is that turnover is pretty quick, and you have plenty of other ramen options around the neighborhood as a backup plan.
Fried pork and vegetable dumplings that are paper thin and fried perfectly so that the bottom is crispy but the wrapper stays soft and delicate everywhere else. They’re a little greasy, but we’re cool with that.
The mythified soy based ramen with a big hunk of pork, nori, egg, and a fish cake. It also has some spinach in it, and the broth is a bit richer than what you might find at other ramen joints (excluding Ippudo). Good for your hangover and your wallet.
Also good, this one is miso based with some chicken, sprouts, sesame seeds and other goodness. Not quite as satisfying as the shoyu, but if you like miso ramen, you won’t be disappointed.
Mabo Tofu Ramen
This is a big bowl of soy broth with tofu, ground pork, scallion, ginger and a spicy chile sauce. We love it, but the spicy chile sauce is a strange consistency, almost like the seeds of a tomato. Might be off-putting to some.