Thursday, April 4, 2013

Burgers vs. Ramen? They're both sooo Japanese: Bachi Burger and Shoku Ramen-ya


It's a culinary BATTLE ROYALE!!!!

So I dunno if you've ever been in a situation where you're really hungry and you're thinkin, 'Do I want a Burger, or do I feel like a hot bowl of Noodles?'  So typical..... I've been there on numerous occasions and let me tell you, I could ponder that fork in the road for hours...if only there was a place that served both..... Tadaaaa!
Well, it's not exactly one place, more like two places adjacent to each other by chef/owner Lorin Watada; whose fusion burger fame, 'Bachi Burger' has propelled her into Ramen game - the current 'it' food in Vegas.  Not that there can be enough Japanese fare in my opinion!

Hachi Machi, give me a Bachi!!!

Bachi Burger is a Japanese Hybrid Burger joint serving the American classic  with Japanese twists.  It's become the culinary zeitgeist to throw a bunch of 'Asian' ingredients on anything and see what whacked flavor comes out (yack) yielding moderate to disastrous results.  Innovation is great but sometimes you just have to go simple.  

But when I feel like having something other than you standard Burger fare, I look to Bachi - the flavor combinations are nostalgic and the burger quality is pretty good.  Also, there's a proximity and it's open all the time (unlike the Foodtrucks that are sooo good, but just a scheduling/coordinating pain).  There's a previous review of Bachi - go ahead and read and you'll get what I'm talking about below...

Did you read it? Ok, good. Just as a summary, they serve a lot of Asian style dishes as appetizers, Chinese Bao's, Chicken Karage and Edamame, so you get a harmonic blend of Asian bites with All American Burgers. And for a guy like me who has trouble deciding on one cuisine, I get a bit of everything like an international buffet..but with good food.

Truffle Parmesan Fries:

Parmesan Reggiano + Black Truffle Porcini Cream + Sun Dried Tomato Aioli.  In my previous posts, I complained that I enjoyed what little gravy they provided for this cone heap of Fries that they stingily provide.
It seems that someone was listening; upon my recent visit, the Fries came with a generous portion of the creamy gravy that made those Fries uber luxurious and thoroughly fulfilling.  The Sun Dried Tomato Aioli does not work at all with the Truffle cream, however, since there is a portion of fries near the bottom of the cone that is not coated with decadent sauce, the Aoli serves a good condiment for those untouched by the earthy goddess...

Kiki Burger

I've had the Ronin Burger which was pretty good, and the Black and Green Burger was amazing.  But my favorite is the Kiki Burger: an Angus Beef Patty with sautéed Shitake, Eryngii and Enoki Mushrooms, Caramelized Bacon, Sweet Onion Marmalade, Gruyere Cheese and a Garlic Aioli.  When I first reviewed this Burger, my biggest complaint was that overabundant smattering of the Aioli drowning out the flavor of all the other ingredients, including the Burger.

Well, much to my pleasure, they had listened; the Plate was served with the Aioli on the side, which could be knifed on to one's liking.  This made a world of difference, you could taste all the awesome flavors that this burger has to offer: The charcoal permeated through the Beef, which alone was satisfying, the Gruyere + Caramelized Bacon elevated the unctuous bass level notes, while the Sweet Onion Marmalade was savory and sweet. I added my own level of Garlic Aioli, just enough kick to spice it up before each bite....Super delish!

Jaku Niku, Kyo Shoku (The Weak are Meat, The Strong Eat) Shoku Ramen-ya 

I have to say, there's like, a Ramen explosion going on in Vegas, it's getting a little over saturated  with all the Ramen joints popping up...not that I'm complaining.  Some of the places here taste better than the one's in Japan!  (no kidding) 

Well being right next door to Bachi, it's a culinary Sophie's Choice, what am I willing to let go; could I possible eat a Burger with Fries right after a bowl of Ramen and Gyoza?  If only they could deliver next door, that would be the best of both worlds right in one sitting. I mean, how many calories could that be...4,000?  What's that, 7 hours on the Starimaster? No prob!

Shoku Ramenya is relatively small, just under thirty seats, but feels pretty open and spacious for a noodle shop.  I'm particularly enamored with the set of condiments at the table as well as the jug of water that they provide for you as you're seated, refilled often throughout the meal.  And the iced Green tea is also refill friendly, all little plusses that add up in the end.


Pork Gyoza

Always start off with a plate of Gyoza, it's like a cultural tradition of Ramen Shops to provide these half dozen, moon shaped crispy delights stuck together like little piglets.  It's always a little game to try and pick them off without ripping the skin, retaining the piping hot filling within its crackling confines.  As for the pork, I enjoyed the strong hit of Garlic, but it felt to me as if the meat slightly overcooked; it had a harder texture without that juicy component that one would expect when you bite into Gyoza.

Lobster Miso Ramen

Somewhat of of an offbeat item, the Lobster Miso Ramen has Butter Sake poached Lobster pieces along with the usual Ramen suspects: Chasu Pork Slices, Buttered Corn, Kikurage (Wood Ear Mushrooms), Menma (Bamboo Shoots), Nori (Seaweed) and Kaiware (Daikon Sprouts).  The broth is made from the gooey, brown, Crustacean brain sludge (hence, Lobster Miso) that delivers a predominantly briny, sea/ocean soup that if that's your thing, it will drive you insanely happy!

I was bouncing off the walls, it tasted so good! And you get the best of both, there's three Chasu pieces resting on top, although they looked more like thick-cut Pork Belly slices to me. Minor details...  Usually the portions are overgenerous, where I'm hurting to finish the bowl, not the case here, in fact I was left wanting a little more Ramen noodles to go with all the toppings.

As for dessert, I was tempted by something cold after all that hot broth, And Ice Cream seemed like a good idea. I'm terrible fond of Black Sesame, as it seems to be a reoccurring ingredient in many Japanese desserts.  Assured of it's moderate portion, what came out was a pint of Ice Cream, which could only be considered one scoop if its contents came out of a ten gallon vat from a factory...  I should have know better, but I'm slightly disappointed every time I order a Japanese dessert, it's relatively mild with lukewarm sweetness.. underwhelming.

But a palate cleanser was definitely needed after all the oils in the broth and this kinda worked..

So, now it come down to the Battle: who won?

For Appetizers:  I don't know, they both so different!!
For Main:          I can't choose - they're both sooo good!!!
For Dessert:      Bleah.....

There really is no battle, if you feel like having Burgers, ie. red meat, got to Bachi.  If you cold and need to warm up with a great bowl of Ramen with some great Broth, get yourself on over to Shoku Ramen Ya.  I love both of these places and it's always hard to decide each time I'm in front of these two doors!

Bachi Burger                                                     Shoku Ramen Ya
Ratings (Out of Five Stars)                                   Ratings (Out of Five Stars)
Food:         4.5                                                    Food:         4.75
Ambience:  3                                                      Ambience:  4
Service:      4                                                      Service:      4.5

Shoku Ramen-Ya on UrbanspoonBachi Burger on Urbanspoon