I know that Momofuku is supposed to be the best of the best of the best ramen in the universe, and that Decibel is the underground hip lair that you are supposed to take your out of town friends to so that they know how awesome and plugged in you are, but pound for pound, and dollar for dollar when it comes to ramen and to rice there is no better spot than Rai Rai Ken.
I almost don’t even want to write about it because while it is popular, it’s nowhere near as popular as it could be, but I share this with you and only you because I know you are The Right Kind of Person.
A tiny Japanese noodle bar, Rai Rai Ken is tucked between 2nd and 1st avenues on 10th street. Unlike it’s flashy, trendy neighbor Teriyaki Boy, Rai Rai Ken is a modest establishment, the doorway obscured by two red flags. Upon entering you will find a long wooden L-shaped bar and two window seats. Hooks on the walls give the place a homey vibe and the chefs behind the counter quickly bring water while you sit and study the menu.
First, the ramen. There are only a couple of choices here; it’s traditional ramen, nothing flashy. You can throw a bunch of fancy shit in your ramen and charge an arm and a leg for it, but ramen is really about the broth. The broth here is thick, flavorful and as traditionally Japanese as you are likely to find in New York. The noodles are firm and delicious and the whole shit costs you only 9 bucks; almost half of what David Chang’s bowl will set you back, and no one at Rai Rai Ken rushes you out, you don’t have to wait for 10 hours on line while Murray Hill girls yak on their phones and bang into you with their Longchamp bags.
As amazing as the ramen at Rai Rai Ken is, I have only had it a handful of times. This is because I discovered something even (in my opinion) more amazing than the ramen: the pork fried rice, or Pork Cha-Han as it is called on the menu.
I don’t even really know what to say other than its the best damn fried rice I have ever had, and if I ever find myself on death row you can bet your ass that it will be part of my last meal. I love Rai Rai Ken so much that even the fact that I have seen hideous, misogynist , racist scumbag Vincent Gallo in there on more than one occasion has not deterred me from visiting. It’s amazing, and it serves food until 2 am on the weekends.
Rai Rai Ken
#214 E 10th St, (between 1st and 2nd)