“We took the wrong turn! Damn GPS,” I muttered.
I’m willing to assume all of you have had this same conversation I had at some point in your life. Maybe it happened when you went to visit those relatives you’ve only seen once in your life because your parents secretly despise them but don’t want to openly admit it, OR maybe it was when you were trying to locate that super cool steampunk-hipster restaurant in downtown Des Moines. My situation applied to the latter.
Pulling up, I didn’t think that the little, wooden, apartment-style building I looked at on 621 Des Moines Street could be the location of the restaurant talked about by all the local foodies. But then I saw the flimsy sign out front blowing around in even the smallest gust of wind stating that I arrived at the correct destination: Krunkwich Ramen House.
When I walked inside, I was met with the overwhelming, soul-warming smell of Asian spices and a loud “Welcome to Krunkwich!” from the lady up front with purple hair and a sleeve of tattoos (I immediately knew I wanted to be friends). The staff proved to be very chill and helpful as we were led through the different choices; they immediately recognized us as newbies from the awkward confusion on our faces as we searched to find the menu.
Krunkwich Ramen House serves ramen, stir fry, banh mi, a vegan menu, and specialty tater tots. The menu caters an array of diets to please carnivores and herbivores alike. From their specialty Krunkwich Ramen (chicken tare, pork belly, pulled pork) to vegan ramen to gluten free ramen, most all options can substitute meat for tofu. Dietary restrictions are no excuse not to visit.
I ate there in the late morning, so the restaurant hadn’t hit their lunch rush yet. But be aware that it gets busy fast and the home-like, brick-interior room doesn’t seat many. The food didn’t take long; maybe 15 to 20 minutes. And with the open kitchen, you can watch the sweat-browed, indie-dressed chefs make food in the back kitchen which adds to the overall aesthetic and passes by the time. One of my favorite parts was the food presentation. All the dishes were gorgeous; from the signature clay bowls to the sprinkle of green onions on top.
I ordered the Laksa Curry Ramen, and the high expectations I had going in didn’t let me down. The clean, classy presentation exemplified the taste of Malaysia in my yellow curry-infused tofu and ramen dish. I would recommend it to any vegan who enjoys the taste of curry.
If you’re a fan of trying new things, we also ordered the Crispy Pork Belly and Mushroom Stir Fry. Although I didn’t get a taste of it (I’m vegetarian), my family said it was good, but a bit too salty for their taste due to the pork belly. The last dish my table ordered was Japchae. Instead of ramen noodles, this dish uses glass noodles. If you’re not familiar with glass noodles you can read more about them here. They are gluten-free noodles and are often a good substitute for the health-conscience foodies out there.
Overall, eating at this Asian-infused nook in downtown Des Moines proved to be one kick-ass experience. It’s unique, artsy and aesthetically pleasing for anyone with a food infatuation. I’d recommend going with family, friends, or even on a date. Prices average to be around ten dollars a dish, but don’t forget to tip the stellar staff. Next time you’re looking for a new adventure, consider Krunkwich Ramen House. You won’t regret it or forget about it.