I was in the Seattle area on the hunt for some great food. Although on the outskirts of town I still managed to stumble upon this hip ramen house located in a strip mall next to your standard Subways, Menchies and the like. I think they have 4 locations in all.
As I roll up I see that there is a wait out the door. Most people cringe at the sight of waiting for their food and decide to head elsewhere and give their dinner dollars to a chili’s, or Applebee’s or some other casual diner but not me. I know why there is a line out the door and I want in!!
I was in luck since I was flying solo, they had a spot waiting for me at the counter! Cuz you know how we do it VIP style right? Right? No? Okay…. The service was promt and friendly.
My first dish was the Tonkotsu Shoyu Ramen. Ramen in a rich pork broth with flavored with Yamaguchi soy sauce, topped with black garlic oil. It also had a slice of pork in it and a half boiled egg. I tried by best not to look like a monkey humping a football as I tried to grab the slippery noodles with my chop sticks. Luckily I held my own but there were some moments when I lost my grip and looked around in the hopes that nobody saw me fumble my ramen.
The noodles that I did manage to deliver safely to my pie hole were fantastic! Perfectly al dente and had a beautiful flavor from the broth. The pork slice was nice and tender so I didn’t have to tug at it to get a bite off. That would have been disastrous given my lack of chop stick skills. The egg was perfectly cooked with a soft liquid center and the white had soaked up a lot of that wonderful pork broth flavor.
I don’t go to a lot of ramen houses but I think I want to start! I’m not an expert but I think my palate is developed enough to know good grub when I taste it. This was good grub! Look at me in this pic, pulling out a big ole hunk of ramen with my chop stick skills!! (It took me like 5 attempts to get this shot).
The presentation was beautiful with the dark color of the crispy dumplings offset by the sauce drizzle and bonito flakes.
As you bite in you get the crisp from the shell and the soft (innards of a tater tot) texture until you find the chewy, but not too chewy, octopus hidden inside. The flavors worked really well together, the inside being really neutral and the outside hitting your palate with flavor like a punch from Ray Rice!
All in all this place was a major hit for me and I would definitely consider revisiting this place should I come to the Seattle area again. One of my followers on Instagram used the term “hella good” and I concur!
Kukai Ramen & Izakaya
14845 Main Street
Bellevue, WA 98007