japanese/ramen: 樂麵屋 (rakumenya)

date December 10, 2010
contact No. 7, Lane 10, Yong-Kang Street, Taipei City/台北市永康街10巷7號/02.2395.1787
hours 7 days a week 11:30-22:00 (last call for orders at 21:40)
price <300NT
rating ♥♥♥♥♥ (5 out of 5 hearts)
nearest MRT mrt dongmen station (捷運動門站)

So luckily one of my friends in Taipei loves food as much as I do and introduced me to the wonder that is 樂麵屋 (Rakumeya). Located in an alley off of Yong Kang Street (永康街, the street famous for beef noodle soup and what was once Ice Monster), 樂麵屋’s red and white sign can be spotted.

When our party of three arrived at 19:30 on Friday night there was a wait. Luckily the wait was not too long, but really, the wait is worth your effort. There is not a whole lot of seating inside, maybe 10 tables seating 2-4 people and a bar (noodle bar) near the door that probably seats another 10 people.

Upon seating the server asked us whether or not we had been before because if not they would explain the ordering system. Stephanie had been before so she said she had, although we later realized we should have had them explain it to us anyways because ordering can be complicated, especially for those who cannot read Chinese. There are 3 menus at the table for patrons to fill out. Each menu is for a different item. Soup noodles, dry noodles, and I think appetizers were each their own menu. Also, each person must fill out their own menu. Chris and I ordered the spicy ramen (No. 7), so we each filled out the menu pictured above. Best thing about this place, you can pick the thickness of the broth, the width of the noodles,how cooked you want your noodles, and how much noodles you want.

For the broth they give three choices: heavy, medium, and light. The heavy is noted to be what traditional Japanese ramen is like, it is more flavorful, but also more salty. This is what both Chris and I chose. Second you choose the width of your noodles; I went with thin noodles, Chris with the wider noodles. Third you choose how cooked you want your noodles. Chris and I both went with the more al dente noodles, which was noted to be the more traditional Japanese way of eating them. Lastly, you can choose if you want extra noodles or not. If you aren’t sure if you want extra noodles, no worries, you can add them for free (only the thin noodles, but if your order the wider noodles you can still add free thin noodles) at any point in the meal.

I’m totally in love with this place. My ramen was great! If you order the No. 7 or 8 (both spicy) you can choose how spicy you want it. I went with medium spicy (中辣), which I thought was perfect for what I was looking for: enough to taste, but not enough to numb your mouth at all. However I think Chris thought it was a little too spicy (note that I pretty much eat sriracha self by itself). The broth was really flavorful without being too salty at all. The meat was great, tender and flavorful. The veggies added good balance as something not seasoned and fresh to counter the richness of the broth. I LOVED the garlic chips sprinkled on top, so good. My noodles were cooked almost perfectly, I wouldn’t have minded if they were a little more al dente. Basically, this was ramen heaven in Taipei.

I only had one bite of Stephanie’s garlic noodles, but it was enough to let me know that it was good. Although I can’t really recall any specifics about this dish, I know I can say that if you are not looking for soupy, and you like garlicky noodles, this would be a good choice.

Overall, I really love this place. The broth kind of reminds me of my favorite ramen place in San Francisco, Katana-ya on Geary at Mason. We were sad to find that the day we went they were sold out of their signature potstickers, so next time I will be trying those. All in all, while in Taipei I guess you could say that 210NT for a bowl of ramen is on the steeper side of “cheap eats” it is totally worth it.

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