It had been a while since we visited a ramen bar, and what better place to fill our pent-up craving than San Diego’s Asian restaurant row: Convoy Street. From the diverse selection of exotic cuisine, Rakiraki Ramen called our names; its heavy dinner traffic made us curious as to what the hype was all about. Though it specializes in ramen and tsukemen, the Convoy menu has an array of offerings that range from sushi to hamburgers.
We arrived for an earlier dinner but still had to wait 20 minutes before securing a seat at the bar, inches away from the open kitchen. Here we could watch the hardworking employees preparing meals for the crowd of hungry customers. Brick walls, open seating area, casual atmosphere, and friendly service were super inviting and had us psyched for the food.
The first dish that arrived is a “must try”: wok-sizzled Yebisu Kimchee Ramen. A huge bowl of noodles in spicy kimhee miso with pickled egg, pork underbelly, and crispy tofu sat in front of us, begging to be eaten. The flavor of miso separates this dish from any ramen we have ever had. The kimchee is smooth and charred, as is the tofu, and it isn’t too spicy. We enjoyed it down to the very last drop.
Sushi comes as an appetizing presentation, as this Japanese staple normally is. Spicy Baked Krab Roll has heaping scoops of crab and spicy mayo salad over a simple avocado and cucumber roll. The amount of crab salad pushes the limit for a bite sized piece, but this is exactly what any crab-lover wants. The flavor and size make the roll a good bang for its buck. Rakiraki’s Poke Roll has fresh tuna marinated with a signature poke sauce, and topped with raw onion, cilantro, and pepper, all on a drizzle of spicy mayo. The tuna tastes fresh and is well complemented by spicy mayo. It definitely reminds us of actual Poke bowls—yet another cuisine that makes this menu so diverse!
The infamous Ramen Burger arrived with a side of sweet potato shoestring fries dusted with powdered sugar — an excellent sweet side reminiscent of fried dough served in amusement parks. The burger’s bun is made from ramen noodles, prepared in a way to hold together and fully support the burger while not distracting from the flavor inside. In fact, the bun barely even has a distinct taste. We found this to be a very good thing, because it halos the savory beef patty and pork belly it holds within. The meat has a fried crust, almost like a fried chicken sandwich.
Our meal at Rakiraki Ramen was surprisingly large, but not surprising in quality. The hype about this restaurant is justified. Service is speedy, meal sizes are above average, and prices are decent. This star of Convoy Street is undeniably worth a visit by any ramen fan or Asian foodie. (The Rakiraki on Convoy is the original location; the establishment has expanded and now has restaurants in the Point Loma neighborhood and downtown San Diego.)