Ramen Burger

To me, ramen has only ever come in two varieties: instant and gourmet. For a while, I only ate the instant variety, mostly because I felt like a professional chef when I poured boiling water in the Cup Noodles container and dutifully waited three minutes before serving. Since then, I’ve developed my ramen connoisseurship further, having sampled ramen at at least two different authentic ramen shops. And naturally, I felt that the next step for me was to try the fusion of ramen with an all-American food — burgers — to achieve the full ramen experience, at my first visit to Rakiraki Ramen and Tsukemen on Convoy Street.
On a Wednesday afternoon, the parking lot of the strip mall that houses Rakiraki was entirely full; thankfully, it was easier to find a table than a parking spot. After being warmly greeted by the majority of Rakiraki’s staff, I sat down and pretended to peruse the menu. I say “pretended” because I was truly only there for one reason — to try the fusion fad that is the ramen burger.
Out of the five options on the menu, I chose the Tsukune Katsu California Ramen Burger ($9.75), which was a breaded cutlet of triple-pressed ground chicken, shiitake and kikurage mushroom, chicken softbone, shiso leaf, garlic, ginger and natural Japanese herbs between lettuce, tomato and two ramen noodles buns. Despite the overwhelming number of ingredients, each bite tasted quite average, somewhat like a chicken nugget, so I turned my attention to the real star: the ramen noodle bun. Although interesting in appearance and definitely less crunchy than I expected it to be, the bun was otherwise unimpressive. Its texture resembled stuck together, not fully cooked pasta, and did not boast much flavor when separated from the burger’s other components. On the other hand, though, the ramen burger was significantly more filling than a regular one, and the general lack of flavor was easily remedied with the five-spice soy sauce or spicy mayo provided on the side. The Beef and Underbelly California Ramen Burger ($10.75) was quite similar, but boasted slightly more flavor because of its fatty prime X.O. underbelly; ultimately, though, there wasn’t a huge difference in taste between the two burgers. Although I didn’t find the burger fusion particularly successful, Rakiraki’s take on classic American — or classic French? — fries was much more interesting. Both orders of burgers came with sweet potato fries dusted with powdered sugar, which, like the ramen burger bun, were very filling, yet much softer and sweeter. I confess I may have used more of the sauce designated for the burger on the side dish instead. 
Although I don’t doubt that the burgers were cooked to the highest standard, they simply were not as interesting as I’d expected them to be for all the hype they’ve generated as a fad food. While sitting in Rakiraki, I regretted not being able to order an actual bowl of ramen for this food review — and not just to check another authentic ramen shop off my list. And though my Snapchat story of my meal was met with record-breaking popularity — at least six people messaged me asking where to find such a novelty — I stuck to the mantra “Don’t believe the hype.”436A8325