Mini Review of Ken’s Ramen, Providence RI

Top Three Impressions of Ken’s Ramen – You Won’t Believe Number 2!

For a ramen virgin (no, what we ate in college does not count), a first-time experience at Ken’s Ramen was the kind of revelation more worldly gourmands might recall wistfully. Having no prior experience with ramen joints, everything fascinated; from new tools and tastes to their fill-in-the-blanks ordering protocol. Here are my top three impressions to a n00b:

1) Real ramen is *complex*.
Yeah, there’s depth to a bowl of ramen… it starts thin but the broth deepens in character, color, even texture as you plumb the lower strata. About midway through a warm food glow pervades ones consciousness and, in that elevated state, individual shitakes and impossibly tender chicken pulls become both more distinct and blend completely together in a paradoxical harmony. I likey.

2) They could have called it “Rap & Ramen”
The vibe is East Coast Yakuza, circa mid ’90s. I’m not casually slangin stereotypes here, their tee-shirts proclaim “cartel” and the soundtrack prominently features Biggie and Wu. In fact, I felt like I was living scenes from my favorite graphic novel from last year, ‘Get Jiro’ (the Anthony Bourdain penned dystopian future food gangsta fantasy.) This is all good with me, but may be off-putting to some foodie factions.

3) Longitudinal Studies Required
For a seemingly simple menu, there’s an awful lot I have to go back and try! All the ingredients were of terrific quality and attentively prepared; what’s great is that there are a good number of add-ons and variations to experiment with. So, I’ll be going back to try their thick noodles and dipping goo, the braised egg, blackened pork, sea urchin roe, and more. I had the stock Chicken Paitan this time to establish a base line experience, but sampling my son’s vegetarian broth made me wish for a cow’s anatomy – I’m thinking four stomachs here, not impressive udders.

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