With Rakiraki Ramen & Tsukemen opening up their Little Italy branch soon, the escalating ramen scene in San Diego is privy to none. Rakiraki has been named as one of San Diego’s 5 Best Bowls of Ramen by Zagat and one of the best ramen shops in the US by Eater National. Let’s investigate what Rakiraki has to offer.
Convoy of San Diego is known for sub-par parking availability, and the plaza Rakiraki is located at is no different. Locations asides, the restaurant features a sleek, modern wooden exterior. Moving inwards, the wooden theme extends to the furniture and is offset by the red brick walls and an open kitchen that provides a comfortably inviting homey feel.
Although Rakiraki is known for its ramen and tsukemen as its name suggests, their Chicken Karaage was named top 10 best fried chicken in San Diego By Zagat and so was a must-order. As someone that’s not a fried chicken connoisseur, good, excellent, and the best piece of fried chicken all tastes kind of the same to me. Having said that, the Chicken Karaage definitely falls within one of those categories especially when paired with the spicy mayo dipping sauce.
Curry Ramen w/ Pork Underbelly
When this ramen was first set on the table we were all intimidated by the lava-like broth that looked like it could leave our throats scorched and bare. However, the curry ramen was actually pleasantly sweet with a spicy aftertaste – very similar to Japanese curry (surprise, surprise). The noodles were firm and were able to hold their form in the broth, and the broth itself was very light.
What we meant by this is that with the ‘aburi’ style (torching the toppings before serving) we were anticipating heavy flavors from start to finish, but it actually rounds out the sweetness along with the fresh and crisp bean sprouts, green onions and bamboo shoots.
Blackened Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen w/ Pork Underbelly
Tonkotsu is a rich and creamy pork bone broth that requires hours of blood, sweat, toil, and tears and is notoriously difficult to perfect. Rakiraki’s endeavors in developing the broth are evident in the dense, cholesterol-filled bowl permeated with black garlic and umami that is bound to sate any ramen craving. The decadent theme of this bowl is completed with the extremely smoky underbelly. Clearly not something you order more than once a month, but when you want to treat yourself this should be your order.
The Original Tsukemen
Tsukemen is essentially a dipping noodle dish and seeing that TSUKEMEN is part of the restaurant’s name, we had high expectations. The toppings and noodles were amazing, but the distinct limey flavors caught us off guard. Tsukemen broth is known to be heavy since you’re not expected to drink it on its own – even the menu stated that it would be “rich & creamy”. Whether this was the desired effect we do not know, but the karaage and regular menu ramen definitely validates Rakiraki as one of the better that San Diego can offer.
With the continual influx of ramen in San Diego, Rakiraki still has to be wary of the increased competition and a possible dethroning of its prized top 5 placing. Props to Chef Junya Watanabe for the innovative ideas behind the special flavors and unique ramen and we can’t wait for his next venture – pokiritto that is opening later this year.