Saturday, September 29, 2012

RakiRaki Ramen And Tsukemen - Quick Visit

[Update: I've since posted a more thorough First Month post. Check it out!]

Who knew there'd be not one but two ramen joints opening in San Diego this year. 2012 has been good and we still have couple months left to spare so what are the chances that there will be a third? Don't know but while I've yet to do a more thorough post on Yamadaya SD (Update: Have since posted here) I've managed to drop by RakiRaki Ramen And Tsukemen this evening and wanted to share. This is a Quick Visit post, meaning - Single meal.., First impression.., Not a review.., Your experience may vary.., etc... Also need to mention on top that they are in soft opening at the moment. Currently only operating during dinner hours from 6PM but hear will be serving lunch eventually (sweet..) after their actual grand opening end of October.

So I noticed RakiRaki mentioned in the Japanese free publication Lighthouse SD in their '18 ramen in San Diego to try..' article and even received an email about the place (thanks Faye!). I was there earlier the day and had a chance to check out the temporary menu and shop info taped on their window. Supposedly owned by a Nagoya based food service group (and water ionization equipment producer) called Jyosui with a slew of restaurants under their belt. One of which is Riki Maru (力丸) where I noticed the large chochin paper lantern with its name but according is not related, at least directly.

The interior is done up really nice. Very modern and chic cafe like. The menu for the time being is fairly simple. A chicken based Shio Ramen in different richness and a tsukemen (also chicken based) available in different spice levels. A choice of pork or chicken Chashu, and several other ramen toppings, most your usual suspects except the oxtail. Karaage and fried rice. A couple rice bowls.

Well enough background, onto the ramen. I debated to try the tsukemen but went for the "Premium" (..ramen, $7.75) which is described to be richer than the "Original" ($7.25).

Pretty darn good. If the soup were any more cloudy it would maybe be in a light Tori Paitan category but this definitely remains a classic torigara shio. I really appreciated the subtle dried fish flavor (which my guess is bonito but could be niboshi or both). Noticeable enough for me to appreciate but I think subtle enough that it wouldn't be a turnoff for some sensitive to the marine flavor. The noodles are thinner-side medium straight, pale yellow in color and has decent resiliency. Halfway through I did have thoughts if it were ever so slightly salty but my final conclusion was that the namesake sodium flavoring was very rounded (unlike if msg) and a pleasant experience that I wouldn't change much. If anything I wouldn't mind a stronger wa-fu dashi dried fish flavor but that's how I am. As for richness, for me it was hovering only just above just right and not quite a Shio I would consider truly rich (like maybe the gyokai shio I had at Ramen Setagaya). Any case it easily hit the spot.

The chicken chashu was very tasty too, a tender thigh portion, well attended in trimming of fat and connective suji. Well flavored with light shoyu and sake/mirin notes. The menma bamboo shoots were also larger with a nice lightly marinated fresher crunch. Only bummer was the egg (not shown) which was hard boiled but some ramen shops just roll the way.

As I've been having a gradual year-long falling out with our Ramen Yakyudori (strictly for the ramen and will explain in a future rambling post) I've been wondering where I'd be getting my lighter assari-kei ramen fix in SD and RakiRaki couldn't have come in a better timing. I'll save the actual praising after I try the tsukemen though, but I am hoping that they'd be the first San Diego ramen shop that I can recommend to my out of town friends without a long laundry list of cautionary do's and don't's. :P

Last, I didn't mean to give a five-dollar tip today but was asking if I could have change for a five so that I can tip. But things like this can happen during soft openings. Nervous new servers, heck new everything. Wouldn't have bothered mentioning here except that I didn't want the management to think I was a dork hitting on the waitress!!? Haha. Anyway looking forward to be back. Plan to ask what the name is all about then.

RakiRaki Ramen And Tsukemen, 4646 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111 


Carol said...

Those bowls of ramen look so comforting but for some reason, I was mesmerized by that picture of the succulent plant. I know, I'm odd.

Dennis K. said...

Hi Carol, Instagram! Compared to friends I was late using it myself but once I finally gave in I've been enjoying it ever since. :)

kirbie said...

Hi Dennis! I went this weekend too! I couldn't resist once I saw they had gone into soft opening mode. I liked the decor. I had the original rather than the premium. I'm wondering if I should have tried the premium. The soup was very light for the original one and quite salty. I couldnt taste anything much other than water and salt. I liked the chashu though. And the free alkanized water is a nice touch. We also got the tsukemen. I haven't had it anywhere else yet, so I don't know how it compares, but we really enjoyed it. Until the sauce got cold and then for some reason it got very salty. I really liked the staff, even though there was some disorganization, they kept coming over to check on us. I actually had to convince DH not to overtip. We had just had two previous really bad service experiences earlier that day and were so pleasantly surprised when we finally got good service.

Junichi said...

Do you know how late they are open til?

Dennis K. said...

Hi Kirbie, I was wondering what the original would be judging that the Premium wasn't too far from where I'd personally want it normally. I mean, it was on the richer side for a light chicken based shio, but not by a whole lot. It was actually my first late meal of the day and I totally could've ordered the tsukemen but I was too embarrassed to, haha.
I do like the people here a lot too. Unfortunately with my schedule I don't think I could become a regular until they start opening for lunch.

Hi Junichi, no I wish I asked. If it's late like past 10pm I may be able to have a late dinner here.

Minxi said...

Hmm I'm looking forward to hearing what happened between you and Ramen Yakyudori. Also, can't wait to try this place out!

Dennis K. said...

Hi Minxi! or is it Jinxi? I stopped by late tonight on the way back from work 9:45 (found out they close at 10pm btw Junichi...).
The tsukemen was very decent. Like dipping your noodles into a concentrated soup made with those pan drippings after roasting a whole chicken. Tasty. Bummer that they don't offer a stock to thin it out afterward cause a lot went wasted after I was done. The better way to enjoy it I think is to order extra stuff, like more chashu and menma. And do I dare say slurping helps too but it's not necessary. It definitely lacks the impact of Tsujita's but it doesn't have to and I think fits the personality of the place. Currently best tsukemen offered in SD. But that doesn't say much. Cause at the moment that'd be like trying out for the olympic bobsled team in South Africa.