One of the great things about being a food blogger is that I get to write about something I really love. On the other hand, the bad thing about being a food blogger is that writing each and every blog post brings back a full-sensory recollection of the subject, making me really hungry. Which is exactly what's happening right now, as I review the pics I'm going to use for this entry on Kenji Tei.
Kenji Tei is a new ramen house along President Avenue that's been drawing raves, and with good reason. The food here, according to owner Kenneth Kho, is a blend of traditional Japanese ramen recipes and new Japanese-inspired fusion dishes. Why Japanese? Simple, says Kenneth, it's the food he likes best. Kho shared some of the house specialties with us in a marathon sampling session that started at one p.m. and ended at well past three. We got to try the Spicy Negi Ramen, a traditional Gomoku Shio Ramen, Crispy Chicken Teriyaki, fried Cheese Gyoza, traditional steamed Gyoza, and Chahan.
Spicy Negi Ramen
The Spicy Negi Ramen was ramen noodles and succulent slices of roast pork floating in a bowl of rich, savory broth with a kick. This is exactly the kind of comfort food I'd look for after a really tiring day and something to pick up my spirits. The spicy soup also went very well with the Cheese Gyoza, pork dumplings in a thick dough wrapper, but fried crispy golden brown instead of steamed, with a nugget of creamily melted mozzarella cheese in the middle. The cheese gyozas are served with a dip of mayo and chili oil, which perfectly set off the mildness of the cheese. I can see why this is a crowd favorite! The Gomoku Shio Ramen will certainly please lovers of traditional style ramen--noodles in a very umami Japanese soup stock, topped with shrimp, beef, roast pork, cuttlefish, vegetables, and half a boiled egg, and it comes in a really big bowl. Were I dining alone, a bowl of this would be a match even for my rather wolfish appetite.
Gomoku Shio Ramen
Next came two dishes usually eaten with rice, though they also make great sides for ramen; the Crispy Chicken Teriyaki and steamed Gyoza. The teriyaki consisted of boneless pieces of chicken, skin on and fried to a nice crunch, glazed in Kenji Tei's special teriyaki sauce and rolled in fresh toasted sesame seeds. It's sweet-salty-peppery, crackling crisp outside and really tender inside. Cat of course was delighted with her favorite, the gyoza; it's something she invariably orders in every Japanese restaurant we go to. Which means I've tasted a lot of gyoza. Some are too salty, some soggy, some have a funny taste that's reminiscent of chorizo. Kenji Tei's gyoza was none of the above -- it was simply excellent. We had the teriyaki and gyoza with chahan fried rice, and I have to say Kenji Tei's cooks have a nice light hand with oil. I often find fried rice too oily, but this tasted like it had none at all.
Crispy Chicken Teriyaki
Gyoza with Chahan
And now I've done it. I just had a nice, heavy dinner -- but my stomach is growling. Again. And it wants Japanese.