This is from a date in late January… but it went well, and as a result I have nothing that I would share publicly.
When you date people who work late hours, you become familiar with the late night eating scene. Luckily, late night ramen is a very real thing in our lovely city, and DFB and I worked out a list of places to hit. The first of them: Rai Rai Ken, which was actually one of the early entrants to the ramen game over 12 years ago. A former friend of mine used to LOVE this place, so I expected it to be at least satisfactory (though I find her to have ridiculously bad taste in just about everything, so I suppose I should have taken that to heart).
We started off with an order of pork buns because, pork buns. These were awkwardly tough to eat – the pork wasn’t quite so tender that one could bite through it easily, and we both struggled. There was a heavy squiggle of mayo on the inside, which made the overwhelming taste of just fat and slippery goo on the inside. I didn’t care much for it, and DFB agreed that it was passable.
DFB apparently loves kimchi and though I pointed out we were at a Japanese place and kimchi is distinctly Korean, he wanted it. When it came, we were both disappointed – it was solidly mediocre to below average. We left it mostly untouched.
An order of gyoza, which was crisp on the outside but oddly bland and mushy on the inside. Dipping it in the sauce helped marginally, but it was honestly not worth the calories or stomach space, as our main event hadn’t arrived yet.
I’d ordered thick noodles in shio broth – shio is one of my favorite broth styles, ‘salt-based’ – I love salt. It isn’t meant to be salty, per se, but just incredibly savory. The thick noodles were wonderfully thick – almost udon-thickness, though a bit soft/overcooked – but the broth wasn’t wonderful. At all. In fact, it was borderline disgusting (a word I detest using to describe food) – it was oily, so oily it might’ve been just a bowl of oil served to me with stuff in it! I ate my egg – which was perfection personified – but the broth congealed each time I paused eating. Literally, the top would ‘sheet’ over and I’d have to ‘break’ it with my spoon or chopsticks to continue eating, so eventually I just gave up and left roughly half the bowl uneaten. I was so offended by this ramen, when I walked out, I said pretty loudly, “I am never coming here again!!” and DFB agreed readily. His bowl had been the same, and we made the same faces at each other and drew the same conclusion – this was way too oily and not worthy as a late night stop, even though they are open pretty late. Not a single item we’d had was even mediocre/good in a pinch, but ranged from bad to really bad.