Ok, I broke my rule about waiting a couple weeks before going somewhere new here, but I figured with the massive amounts of business they’ve had, they probably have lots of practice by now right? Plus, this place is right by my house and I have been waiting patiently (or not) for months for it to open.
I went with two friends and we tried everything on the menu. There are only three choices on the menu, so it’s pretty easy to do. We each got one of the different flavors of ramen and I tried them all (the bowls are around $13 each). I had the shio broth (which means salt) and my friends had the shoyu (soy) and miso (which is fermented bean paste). I think the shio is kind of the purest of the forms maybe, and the most delicate of the flavors. I enjoyed it and all the little bits of pork that were in there mixed with the noodles, but if you are looking for that big slice of pork on top, this one doesn’t come with it. Instead, there’s a little slice of fish roll. The broth did have a nuanced flavor and the bites with the egg were superb, but if you’re looking for something more in your face flavor-wise, you might want to try one of the others.
The miso (which contains fish sauce and peanuts for those with allergy concerns) tasted heavily of miso—you know, like the soup you get before your sushi. I happen to really enjoy miso soup, so I thought this one was good, and it was certainly a stronger flavor than mine. This one had the pork slice as well as the egg and it’s unique topping was corn, which I will have to say is not my favorite ramen ingredient.
I tasted the shoyu last, and after eating mine for several minutes beforehand, the soy flavor really whopped me. It’s definitely a darker and stronger flavor. Also good. This one also has the egg and pork (and they all had fresh bean sprouts and noodles obviously) as well as some seaweed. Speaking of noodles, they import their noodles from Japan, and apparently age them in the front counter. The noodles were good—they had some toothiness to them and didn’t just kind of dissolve the way rice noodles do. The only option they were offering when we were there was to add extra noodles, but honestly, there were a lot of noodles and I don’t know how they could even fit more in the bowl. You really don’t need extra in my opinion. The half soft-boiled eggs were also just right, with a just set yolk. One friend also snuck in a jar of togarashi to jazz up the soup after reading that it was a good idea. It was. We all used it.
So overall, what do I think? I think Ramen Ray is certainly some of the best ramen in Indy (along with Rook) not that there are really many other places to compare to. I enjoy a nice bowl of noodles as much as the next gal, but I still haven’t found a bowl of ramen in Indy that can compare to the ones I have had in New York and Chicago (honestly, the best so far being Yusho in Chicago). And judging by the enthusiasm and crowds at this place (the entire restaurant was full before they even started serving at noon), Indy is itching for more ramen choices. Hopefully this starts a trend.
I do think they would do themselves a favor opening earlier than noon (the current hours are 12-2:00 and then reopening at 5:00 for dinner). Allowing people to get there earlier than noon, when a lot of people are just starting a lunch break would break up the crush of people all arriving at the same time I think. They are very friendly in there though and do everything they can to keep things moving along. I will certainly go back at some point when the crowds die down, as it is so convenient for me. However one of my friends, who lives near Westfield, said she’d be hard-pressed to come all the way to this side of town for this meal again (she has eaten a lot of the ramen I have had in other cities right alongside me).
|the line at noon|
I’m sure they will do well though, and it’s a decent ramen option. And I love that they focus so much on just doing the three types of ramen. To me, that shows real passion for the actual product they are making by not overextending themselves into areas where they may not shine.
On the other hand, if you get tired of waiting at Ramen Ray, head across 71st Street to Long Thanh and get some great Vietnamese food (don’t get the Chinese food though) without any wait. They even have noodles.
5628 East 71st Street
Apparently no phone, no website, but they are on facebook