So you all know by now how addicted I am to ramen, right? I ate 58 bowls last year and I’m up to 15 bowls this year (with my sister) so far. It’s only February, by the way, so I’m sure I’ll break my record last year. (Well, I’m not the Ramen Girl for nothing . ) I think I’m gonna have to share the title with my sister who is equally obsessed with it these days.
I’ve been literally waiting for this Korean (Japanese) ramen joint to open. Every week since early January, I’d peek at how much progress they’ve had in building the place once occupied by Shabu King in the Super H plaza in Duluth (outside on the left of the plaza, not inside the grocery). Brought to us by the same folks who own Honey Pig, they opened to the public yesterday with a very limited menu (thanks to the intel from my friend G4). I was their very first paying customer. (It’s ramen, hello?) And I also came back today.
First, I have to admit, the place is beautiful. Japanese contemporary zen is how I describe it. There’s this long communal bar in the middle with a crevice filled with unlit chunks of charcoal. The bar stools are cemented to the concrete floor so if you’re short like me, it’s not gonna be comfy as you’ll be too far from the table. I really like the enclosures for the hanging pendant lights which are lined with colorful Chinese fabrics. Everything just looks so cool.
Limited menu. They were offering only four items for now. Tonkotsu ramen, tonkatsu plate, kabob tonkatsu plate, and gyoza. I was never a fan of Korean-owned Umaido because the broth is so bland and tasted exactly like the ones in the packets you buy for 25 cents. I also don’t like their wheat flat noodles, albeit housemade. So I came here with no expectations whatsoever thinking it’s going to be just another Korean-owned ramen place. Surprisingly, the broth is very good. Really good. Not Jinbei or Haru good but very good. It is very flavorful and has a good consistency. Bold and creamy. The roast pork they use is tender and delicious. Oh and the noodles? They use egg ramen noodles like the Japanese version!!!
The Tonkatsu plate is good as well. You get a huge serving of pork fillet lightly coated in panko batter then fried to a beautiful golden brown. The pork is juicy, tender, and tasty. A side of cabbage salad, a bowl of steaming rice, and a cup of miso soup complete the meal. But wait, you also get a bowl of black and white sesame seeds. You crush them with the wooden pestle and then they come and top it with tonkatsu sauce. Sweetish-savory, nutty. Add a dollop of the Japanese mustard and you’ve got one great dipping sauce.
The Kabob Tonkatsu is almost identical except they put pieces of pork meat into skewers and separate them with pieces of sweet onions in between. Fun!
The gyoza are also very good. The wrapper is thin and chewy and the meat filling is perfectly balanced (in taste and quantity) with the herbs. It doesn’t reek with chives and scallions which I like. A great appetizer, don’t miss it.
So far so good. Can’t wait until they expand their menu to include other ramen flavors (shoyu and miso), okonomiyaki, izakaya items and sake. Was told it gets more moody at night when they turn down the lights. Do it!
More pictures (click on the mosaic to go to my Flickr page):
Raku Donkatsu + Ramen
2550 Pleasant Hill Rd.
Duluth, GA 30096
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