Ramen has been picking up a good head of steam in San Diego the last couple of years, now it seems that just about everyone is serving the stuff. I call it San Diego's Ramen Renaissance...so I thought I'd go and grab some ramen. In Part 1, I revisited Underbelly for some hipster-ramen. In Part 2, I checked out Tec Chan, a Yakyudori wannabe. Now part three gets kinda boring as I revisited three places....a couple of which I've probably posted on ad nauseum in the past. My apologies....but it's kinda ramen weather out there tonight, right? So why not?
RakiRaki Ramen and Tsukemen:
It seems that the place is blowing up, at least according to The Eater, which has RakiRaki as one of the 19 hottest ramen shops in the US.
I did enjoy the Tsukemen and love the noodles, but have been less than happy with the really salty broth and the rather skimpy; even for ramen portion sizes. The menu seems to be ever changing and living partially on the alkaline water hype.
Every time I visit, there seems to be another page added to the menu. On this visit, there's now a line of "Super Deluxe" ramen? Which of course, I just had to try. So there went $11.75 for the Shoyu Tonkotsu, with flame blistered prime XO Underbelly Chasiu. Man, these guys are really hyping it up......which is what it ended up being, as I wasn't too impressed with "Super Deluxe".
The noodles were just wonderful as always, nice crunch and all. The chasiu slices were as thin as playing cards, slightly dry, and very low on the flavor scale. The broth was served at too low a temperature, giving it a slight greasiness, rather than being rich. For me, the most disturbing thing about the broth is how salty it was....man I just blew up like a gorged tick. Now for all the we use alkaline water, health benefits, and all that, I'm wondering, do these folks use MSG?
Still, I decided to return yet again. And guess what? Another handy, dandy, new page to the menu! It seemed like a good deal, ramen combined with a rice bowl. What really struck me was how they like to associate "names" with everything here. Now I don't know who the poster boy Chef Takeo Araki is....but I have heard of Junya Watanabe....at least, Junya Watanabe the fashion designer. Well, maybe I shouldn't have mentioned that. I'll go turn in my "man card" tomorrow. Based on the size of the ramen, there's almost no doubt that this was created by someone who needed to keep his models slim and trim. For a scale perspective, compare the amount and size of the bean sprouts to everything around it.
The piece of charred lean pork, tasted like charred lean pork. The noodles were perfect and this wasn't nearly as salty as what I had before, though still pretty high on the sodium scale. The broth has some seafood tones to it as well.
The rice bowl had a good quantity of rice, making this a bit of a carb bomb.
I enjoyed the texture of the chicken karaage which was crisp and light. I really don't think it shouldbe burdened with what basically amounts to a cloying sweet chili sauce, but that's just my opinion. Just as it's my opinion that the folks working here are really nice and getting more efficient with every visit.
Personally, I'm going to give RakiRaki a rest....when the weather gets a bit warmer I'll drop by for the Tsukemen. I'm wondering how large that menu will be by then? How many different types of "premium super-duper delux-a-rooney" tsukemen will there be on the menu? Be still my heart......
RakiRaki Ramen and Tsukemen
4646 Convoy St
San Diego, CA 92111
So the Missus was asking me why I've been having all this ramen and She hasn't? Well, She's kind of ummmm... shall we say selective? But after being married all these years, I have an understanding of Her tastes and preferences.
She loves Santouka, but I finally knew there would a bowl to compete with Santouka's Tonkotsu at Yamadaya. It's the Kotteri Tonkotsu with Kakuni Pork and extra firm noodles.
This clocks in at about the same price as RakiRaki's "Super Deluxe" ramen. The Missus loves a rich tonkotsu style broth, with that wonderful think broth that coats your tongue and tummy. This is also one of the least salty tonkotsus out there as well. When the temp of the broth is right, all the Missus can say is "aaaah".
The problem is that the Missus is not fond of the standard issue Hakata style straight noodles. Even though we order it extra firm, it just never holds texture for the entire bowl.
The kakuni is preferred over the chashu, though it may seem a bit over the top to some.
I've had it when it just wasn't right here, waxy and a bit tough, but most times it's decent.
Speaking of temperature....we were speaking of temperature, right? The place is nice, warm, and cozy right now, though based on my previous experiences, I'm wondering if they have the heat under control, because it got really hot in here during the summer and fall. Well, at least they've got the outside seating squared away. Service has been ok, sometimes things are forgotten, on occasion you get the idea they are trying to get you out the door.....well mainly because of the mass of humanity waiting outside in the wind and rain, so that'sunderstandable. This is another place to hit up early on in the evening if possible.
4706 Clairement Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92117
Which leads to the shop which I think got the ball really rolling on this ramn-mania back in 2008. I really wasn't too impressed on my first visit due to broth temperature problems. Luckily, things got straightened out and I've never had a BTM...."broth temperature malfunction" since then. and of course, the Missus' favorite version at Sanotuka is the shio toroniku style, with fatty pork on the side. So of course after requesting and eating at Yamadaya for the second time I just had to ask Her which She preferred.....Yamadaya or Santouka. This led us to grabbing some ramen at Santouka, for research purposes of course.
Shio Toroniku Style........
I kind of know which way this tree is falling, so to put it in the Missus's words. "The noodles at Santouka are much better, firm, with a slight crunch, they also hold texture for the entire meal." The pork for the toroniku style ramen has a better flavor, more porky, though tonight's pork is on the tougher side, it is usually much more tender." "I prefer the broth from Yamadaya, because it's less salty and also almost velvety. But the broth at Santouka seems to retain heat better; perhaps it's the bowl, but that makes it very comforting." "I guess it depends on what kind of mood I'm in." "We're going to have to find my perfect bowl." Uh-oh, that sounds like a never-ending quest.
4240 Kearny Mesa Rd(In the Mitsuwa Marketplace)
San Diego, CA 92111
I'm sure you folks have a ramen place that's your favorite for whatever reason. I think it's great to have choices!