Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rai Rai Ramen

After a grueling, blazing-hot day playing golf in Lanikai, what could be better than hot ramen!? HAHA. I just couldn't help myself, being the ramen-lover that I am! I know there a lot of hidden gems restaurants and eateries in Kailua, so when I yelped, I was surprised to see Rai Rai Ramen at the top of the list at #3. Rai Rai had a ton of reviews and everyone rated it either 4-5 stars. I was definitely we went!

At 3pm, they were open, but no one was in there. I honestly like this, because you don't have to wait long for your food, no wait for a table, and parking is a breeze. This place is also tricky for parking- they have a small 4-space lot RIGHT in the front of the restaurant and the spaces are tight, so it was nice to be the only car parked in the lot. There happened to be another car parked in there when we left, but no biggie. 

As far as the food, I have to agree with the Yelpers...I'll be back!! The broth was delicious and I literally slurped up every drop. There were about 20 different ramens to choose from and I had a hard time choosing, so I figured the House Ramen was a safe bet. The House Ramen came with charsiu, onions, pickled veggies, menma (bamboo shoots), half a hard boiled egg, 2 pieces of nori and a fried oyster on top! All this for less than $9? I thought the prices were very reasonable too. Two ramens, one 4-piece gyoza plate for only 25 bucks! Of course I'll be back!!

So, back to the ramen itself. Broth? Check! Broth was so tasty and unlike the usual ramen broths. This had a distinct Rai Rai taste that you just need to trust me on, and go try it for yourself. Noodles? Check! I like it chewy and "Japanese-style," (not overcooked) and this definitely was! Not mushy at all. (Speaking of "Japanese-style," I was really worried when I walked in and the waitress was Chinese... but they proved themselves. Chinese can indeed cook Japanese food! I guess there's hope for me!!) Anyway, where was I.....Charsiu in the ramen? Check! OMG, the pork was so tender and I swear, the pork fat melted in my mouth. Literally melted in my mouth. I just wish it came with more than one piece!!!!!! The bamboo shoots, pickled veggies, and nori were all great compliments to the ramen. I loved it! As for the fried was my first time trying an oyster, a fried oyster at that, and hey, give me some credit, I took a bite. But then looked down at it, and it did NOT look appetizing whatsoever, so that might be the last time I ever try an oyster again. Rai Rai, it was a nice touch though!

My friend had the Chicken Katsu Shio Ramen. He said it was tasty as well, and pretty much gobbled the entire thing, just like me! If you don't like your Katsu soggy, I do suggest asking for a plate or asking to have your Katsu on the side.

(They also have Hakata Ramen, which is very hard to find in Hawaii, but many places on the mainland serve this. I need to try this next time!)

Lastly, GYOZA! Ok, let's just say I'm not a big Gyoza fan, but this Gyoza was superb. The gyoza stuffing is homemade...and basically anything homemade is usually tasty. This it was! A lot of Yelpers recommended the Gyoza saying how great it was, and so I took the plunge and ordered the 4-piece. You can also order a 6-piece.....which I should have, IT WAS SO GOOD! I love the fact that they pan-fry the gyoza- it comes out so crispy, which is one characteristic of Gyoza that I prefer. Yummy!!! I definitely suggest ordering the Gyoza for sure. 

Rai Rai Ramen is a small place, and I can only imagine going at lunch or dinner, and definitely having to wait or find street parking. I'd highly recommend going at odd times, like we did, to get in and out fast. I've realized that these tiny, hole-in-the-wall restaurants that some people don't even take a second look at, are the very ones to be hidden gems. Here's to all the hole-in-the-wall restaurants around Hawaii...and here's to Rai Rai Ramen!

Small private parking lot that they share with a Dentist.
Parking can be tight and tricky!

House Ramen

Chicken Katsu Shio Ramen

4-piece Gyoza

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