Ramen By Rā – An At-Home Ramen Experience
Necessity is the mother of invention: In a world where dining out was put on pause for many due to the pandemic, many of us yearned for what restaurants brought, whether it was comfort, innovation, or an entirely new experience.
Ramen By Rā brings all of these together.
I first heard of Ramen By Rā via Ada Supper Club, a curated food delivery service focusing on Black and female culinary creators. Rāsheeda Purdie worked in collaboration with ASC to create multiple thoughtfully-put together ramen experiences, drawing from various inspirations. Though I didn’t get a chance to try any of them, the envy was real when I saw the menus and photos she put together, a full-meal experience with an appetizer, ramen, dessert, and drink. As I continued to eye when her next drop would be – working weekends in healthcare analytics during the height of the pandemic made it hard to even order in sometimes, let alone EAT at all! – you better believed that I pounced on the opportunity to try her Ramen Bodega menu when I knew I was available to.
The Ramen Bodega menu was an exploration and celebration of some of New York’s best offerings from around the corner, showcasing a unique spin on a beloved New York City creation, the Chopped Cheese. (Don’t say it’s like a Philly Cheesesteak! NOPE.)
To order, keep an eye on the Ramen By Rā Instagram to know when the next drop will happen; when it goes up, go to her website and hop on that RSVP page quickly, because this particular experience was sold out within a few days. Once I ordered, paid, and received my confirmation, I waited the few days until its delivery, getting occasional updates throughout the week.
On the day of delivery, I knew my order would be delivered anytime between 2 – 7 p.m.; I was pleased to get a text around 3:30 that afternoon to not only inform me of my delivery, but I was given a live map to follow my driver’s progress as my food made its way towards my apartment; I’m both voyeuristic and incredibly anxious, so being able to know exactly when to go outside to grab my food was incredibly satisfying. 😂
Let me just say: The curation of this entire experience was so incredibly laid out. Every detail was thought of in terms of transporting and packaging the food in the most efficient way as well as tying in the bodega inspiration. Black clamshell boxes came full of our food items, that quintessential black and white checkered paper covering their bottoms. Each element of each course was meticulously wrapped and sealed with easy – to – follow instructions to prepare; there is a DIY element to the experience, yes, but do not let that hold you back if you are not a wiz in the kitchen. The directions were made for the layman!
The appetizer was Chip, Pick, & Dip, a delightful combination of tempura-battered nori, spicy pickles, and spicy mayo. This hit the spot flavor and texture-wise, the fried dimpled batter holding the addictive mayo nicely. The pickles had a bite, but were ultimately juicy and refreshing.
Coming in strong was the Chop Cheese Ramen, served with Lawry’s chop beef, spicy cheese crunch, roasted tomato, steam iceberg lettuce, red chili, bean sprouts, and scallions with a shoyu beef broth. The depth of flavor in this dish was amazing; the broth was incredibly robust, and the chop beef combined with the spicy cheese crunch adding a type of savoriness that I had never experienced in a ramen dish prior. Closing my eyes, I could absolutely taste the Chopped Cheese, minus the bread. The accompanying vegetables added additional layers, from the subtle sweetness of the roasted tomatoes to the palate-cleansing power of the bean sprouts. I am not using hyperbole when I say this is the most unique bowls of ramen I’ve ever had, and one of the best overall! I’m usually more of a fan of creamy tonkotsu broth, but this shoyu beef broth definitely won me over in the end.
Dessert rounded off this 3-course delight nicely with Hot Buns: Honey buns served with hot honey, ginger buttercream, and black sesame seeds. Those that know me know that I can get a little overheated with just fresh cracked black pepper – yes, I go mild on just about everything! – but I’ve long been a fan of hot honey, and when you combine it with the ginger buttercream, they balance each other well enough to give you enough of a bite without knocking you on your ass.
Topped of with an Arizona Ginseng Green Iced Tea – a corner store staple and a favorite for many of us 80s Babies & 90s Kids – this experience couldn’t have gotten much better! (Well…perhaps three or four Hot Buns would have made it even better!)
On her Instagram, Rāsheeda notes that her ramen experiences are a culinary journey of cultural admiration & appreciation, and I couldn’t agree more. This particular experience truly paid homage to appreciating what ramen is, what ramen can be, and showcasing those corner store favorites in a new light; honestly, a plain ol’ Little Debbie Honey Bun just won’t hit the same after having Rāsheeda’s re-imagination of them! This experience hit the spot, and I cannot wait to see what she comes out with next!