Hello Rakkan Ramen Redondo Beach!

After visiting Tokyo late last year, I truly found an appreciation for all things “umami.” What exactly is umami you may ask? Umami is actually one of the five basic senses. The other four being sweet, sour, bitter and salty.  Rakkan Ramen is all about umami and offering dishes that are full of flavor. There’s five locations in Japan; four of which are in Tokyo. No need however to fly all the way to Tokyo however to get a taste of Rakkan Ramen because there are actually three locations in the USA and they are all in Southern California! The three locations are in downtown Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Redondo Beach. The latest one to open is the one in Redondo Beach.

I recently had a chance to visit the Rakkan Ramen in Redondo Beach and my senses were instantly transported back to Tokyo.

My meal here first started off with their Rakkan Buns.

img_0756

There are three offerings of Rakkan Buns; pork, chicken and vegetable. My choice was the chicken buns. This starter indeed was a definition of sensory overload. Two steamed buns were filled with crispy chicken, milk, sesame, baby mix greens with teriyaki sauce and mayonnaise.  I loved the melt in your mouth softness of the steamed buns followed by the delightful crisp of the deep-fried chicken. A mix of the mayonnaise and teriyaki sauce was delightfulness to the palate.

After such a savory stater, next on the table was the star of the meal; the ramen. Here at Rakkan Ramen; they have four different types. Amber, Pearl, Garnet and Ruby. The ramen are just as special as the names of the gemstones they are named after.
Amber is their soy sauce ramen and their most popular at Rakkan. Pearl is the salt sauce ramen that uses specially selected Japanese salt and white soy sauce. lt is Rakkan Ramen’s “healthy” ramen. Garnet is the miso ramen that is well-known in Hokkaido. While ruby is the shrimp miso ramen made with shrimp paste and shrimp slowly boiled in olive oil to concentrate the umami flavor.
Upon my visit, I tried the Garnet ramen.

 

img_0754

The Garnet uses original blended miso and has vegetable broth, sesame paste, grilled pork, green onion, bamboo shoots and seasoned egg served with thin noodles. I instantly became a fan of the vegetable broth! I love that they used vegetable broth to help keep the dish healthy yet tasty. This in itself makes it a winner in my book. The seasoned egg along with the tender pork were superb. With an addition of their chili sesame oil; this ramen dish made for one hearty meal. The umami flavor was evident throughout the whole meal.

I am very happy to see Rakkan Ramen in Southern California. It’s a little taste of Tokyo here at home.

For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Rakkan Ramen Redondo Beach.

Advertisements

Hello Momofuku Vegas!

You know you like a place when you visit a place almost back to back! Case in point, I was at Momofuku CCDC  in Washington DC just last month and shortly after I found myself at Momofuku Vegas. Yes, from East Coast to West Coast, I went from one Momofuku to another Momofuku. That’s because Momofuku is truly momo-f’ good ;).

Momofuku Vegas is the newest of the Momofuku restaurants and is the only one on the West Coast! (Woohoo! One close to home!) It’s located at one of my favorite places on the Las Vegas Strip, The Cosmopolitan. The restaurant itself actually has a gorgeous view overlooking The Strip. (Hint for the best seat in the house ask for Table Y)

img_0535-1

The menu at Momofuku Las Vegas does differ a little bit from the Momofuku CCDC. David Chang always does a nice job of bringing in some new flavors to his menus while combining with some classic favorites!

My meal at Momofuku Vegas started off with trying several of their small plates

First up was their Crudite Plate

img_0537-1

The Cruidite Plate is a beautiful rainbow of veggies that are accompanied with chickpea dip and bacon ranch. If you want to get your healthy on, this plate is a sure fire and fun way to do that! I loved the crispy radishes and crunchy cauliflowers mixing it in the two sauces. It’s unique, different and tasty!

Next from the small plates, we tried the Spicy Cucumbers.

img_0539-1

If you’re a fan of spicy, this small plate is for you. The cucumbers are sprinkled with togarashi or Japanese dried chil peppers. Toasted almond and scallions are also mixed into this starter.

Speaking of spicy, the hottest and most memorable dish came in the form of the Shishito Peppers!

img_0541-1

We all know Vegas is a gigantic playground for adults and there’s lot of games all around. Well who would’ve thought there is a game to be played at Momofuku Vegas via the Shishito Peppers. When ordering this dish, you a presented with a bowl of peppers sprinkled with smoked salt and lime. Most of the peppers are not too hot except for one or maybe two. There’s the two peppers that put the F in fire and will sure to light up your tastebuds. The catch with this game err dish is that you don’t know which Shishito Pepper it is. You could be the lucky winner and end up getting the fiery one!

Soon after the starters, it was time for some main courses! First up with Momofuku Vegas’s two ramen bowls; the Chickpea Ramen and the Pork Ramen.

The Chickpea Ramen is perfect for vegetarians.

img_0558-1

This ramen is has no meat and instead consists of scallion, chickpea miso and bok choy! They give me an abundant serving of crispy chickpeas that brought a unique texture to this soup dish!

The pork ramen is one that I’ve tried before at Momofuku CCDC.

img_0557-1

I’m happy to see this old favorite also on the Vegas menu. The tender pork belly and shoulder and the soft slow poached egg once again was melting in my mouth an bringing this foodie pure happiness!

After the ramen, I got to try their Katsu Chicken dish.

img_0547-1

Katsu Chicken is one of my favorite dishes ever and so I was quite happy to see this on the Momofuku menu! They give a pretty big portion of crispy Katsu Chicken that is accompanied with bulldog sauce, cabbage and pickled shitake. I loved the topping the chicken with the shitake mushroom and dipping it in the bulldog sauce.

Another favorite dish of mine soon came after via the form of Spring Vegetable Rice Cakes.

img_0560-1

Similar to Katsu Chicken, rice cakes have always been something I’ve been a fan of! This Momofuku Vegas dish exceeded my expectations and more. Their version of rice cakes was perfectly chewy and the various spring vegetables and crunchy garlic on top, further enhanced the texture of the dish and the overall flavor! I definitely recommend getting this dish.

Last but definitely not least was their buns! For those who read my Momofuku CCDC blog post, you know that I was absolutely amazed by Momofuku’s buns. The soft buns and their fillings were so mouth watering that I had to just try each of the ones that the Vegas branch offered.

img_0561-1

Firs tup were their pork belly and shitake buns.

img_0564-1

The pork belly bun is filled with a thick pork belly that is smothered with hoisin and accompanied with scallion and cucumber. The pork belly here is similar to the one found in the pork ramen. It’s such a juicy and hearty meat and goes well with the soft bun!

Equal in deliciousness is the shitake bun. This one is filled with lots of shitake mushrooms flavored with hoisin sauce. It also has scallion and cucumber. I’ve always been a big fan of shitake mushroom and I’m happy to see this as the choice of veggie for their vegetarian bun.

For those looking for a seafood bun, the shrimp bun is for you!

img_0568-1

The shrimp bun has a gigantic shrimp filet that is topped with spicy mayo, pickled red onion and iceberg lettuce.

My favorite of all of the buns however came via the chicken karaage bun!

img_0565-1

My oh my, if heaven could be in a bun; this bun would be it! Fresh, hot, crispy chicken karaage was inside along with spicy mayo, pickled red onion and iceberg lettuce. The golden crisp chicken simply blew me away. No bun will ever be the same.

Just like at Momofuku CCDC, every thing I tried at Momofuku Vegas was wonderful! I have to give a special thanks to general manager Robby of Momofuku CCDC for helping me make reservations at Momofuku Vegas and to general manager Ryan and his team at Momofuku Vegas for the outstanding service and good eats! It’s so nice to have one of my favorite restaurants on the East Coast now on the West Coast!

For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Momofuku Vegas.
 

Hello Momofuku CCDC!

Fast cars in a rush. Busy people passing by. A chilly wind and slight rain. I’m in my black Hello Kitty hoodie at City Center in Washington DC. Cold and hungry on a busy day in DC, the answer to my prayers is right in front of me as I spot the peach logo of Momofuku CCDC.

Momofuku CCDC is one of the restaurants of famed chef David Chang. The original Momofuku is in New York City and there are also branches in Toronto and Las Vegas. Momofuku opened up in December 2015 at CityCenter DC. The Washington DC location has a somewhat personal significance in Chef Chang’s life. He is a Northern Virginia native and his is father once owned two bistros in Washington, DC.

The personal significance to Chef Chang’s childhood brought some special attention to detail in choosing the menu of this location. Momofuku CCDC ended up with some of the traditional dishes that can be found at the other Momofuku restaurants but it also got some creations exclusively made for DC. On this chilly day, I was blessed to try an array of Momofuku offerings.

My meal at Momofuku started off with their famous buns. They’ve got a quite a selection of buns ranging from shitake to brisket. I got the chicken meatball buns.

img_0330

The chicken meatball buns are amazing. This small dish consists of two buns filled with a gigantic chicken meatball that is smothered with paprika mayo and topped with spicy  jalapeños and crispy iceberg lettuce. The buns are so soft and practically melt in your mouth. They remind me of traditional siopao or steamed buns that can be found in Chinatown. These are not your classic Chinese steamed buns however because they have a special, unique twist with their fillings. The chicken meatball is super flavorful and there is a little bit of spice brought in with the paprika mayo and jalapeño. It’s spicy, savory and simply mouth watering.

Right after the chicken meatball buns, the pork ramen came out. This soup was the perfect response to the slight rain that was hitting DC that day.

img_0331

Momofuku CCDC’s pork ramen is a food item of beauty.  A feast for the eyes and a feast for the stomach,; the pork ramen is filled with pork belly, pork shoulder, poached egg and long noodle. One poke at the poached egg and the yolk comes oozing out into the warm broth and further enhancing the already flavorful soup. Along with the poached egg, there is the delicious pork meat adding to the texture of the ramen. The pork belly and pork shoulder are wonderfully tender and mix well with the long, silky noodles. This soup truly is the cure to the chilly DC day.

The pork ramen and buns are items that can be found at the other Momofuku restaurants but as I mentioned early in ths post, Momofuku CCDC has some special items that were created just for this branch. One of these items it their Braised Fried Chicken dish.

img_0332

The Briased Fried Chicken dish is not your typical fried chicken dish.  Crispy fried chicken is mixed in with scallions, cabbage and shallot with a sweet sauce. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever tried. I really enjoyed how the chicken remained crispy despite being in the sauce. It’s delicious and different and I’m so happy that it’s on the Momofuku CCDC menu. It’s a dish that was inspired from one of David Chang’s favorite Chinese restaurants, the now closed Wu’s Garden  in Vienna. Though Wu’s maybe closed, the braised fried chicken lives on and it’s all thanks to Momofuku CCDC.

Everything I tried that chilly day in DC was perfect. I absolutely loved the chicken meatball buns and both the pork ramen and the braised fried chicken were phenomenal.

There I was, a girl just cold and hungry at the City Center DC but thanks to Momofuku CCDC I became a girl warm, happy and just peachy ;). (Peachy just like Momomfuku’s famed peach logo. 🙂

For more smiles and to feel peachy like me ;), please read my Yelp review on Momofuku CCDC.