Raku Brings Ramen to Midtown

It is a cold rainy Tuesday night and newly-open Raku Tonkotsu Ramen (810 Marietta St, Downtown, Tel: 404.500.1908) is buzzing with Japanese students from nearby Georgia Tech slurping noodles. I can’t think of a better way to confort the soul on a dreary winter’s eve.
Raku still has their original location in Duluth near Super H Mart. It isn’t nearly as funky and hip as this one, though. The same owners also own Honey Pig in Duluth, a popular Korean BBQ eatery.
Unfortunately, there just aren’t many ramen noodle houses in the Atlanta metro, and this has to be the first in the immediate downtown area.
In fact, I don’t recall any ramen noodle shops inside the perimeter, ever. And I am very old and have lived here a very long time, and I have a deep abiding love for Asian noodle soups.
And while Raku isn’t the best ramen noodle house we’ve got, it is solid enough to still be a big deal for intowners.
A bowl of Tonkotsu ramen arrives a rich, porky broth with chashu (pork belly) mushrooms, seaweed and black sesame seeds.
The ramen noodles are perfectly passable, but not nearly as springy and toothsome as I’ve had at other ramen shops around town.
But that’s okay, nobody sweats the little stuff this deep inside the perimeter where these kinds of restaurants just don’t happen every day.
Besides, the broth makes up for it, tasting as if it has been simmering in collagen-rich pork bones for hours on end.
Other ramen options at Raku are spicy tonkatsu, a lighter miso ramen, the shoyu whose chickn broth base is spruced up with a hit or two of soy sauce, and the salty shio ramen. They even have Hyashi ramen, which is served in a cold broth — perfect for those hot summer days that’ll be here before we know it.
In addition to ramen, Raku also offers traditional udon and a variety of donburi.
As for appetizers, stay clear of the heavy seafood pancake. But the doughy — in a good way — shrimp shumai are surprisingly fine. And you can never go wrong with a plate of pork belly strips.
From the looks of things, Raku will be just fine and should prosper serving a purpose, which is feeding hard-up intowners rich, porky ramen noodle soup.

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– Tom Maicon