Kiki Ramen – Oodles of Noodles in SLU

It’s no secret that ramen has been in the spotlight over the last few years, and Josh Henderson is getting into the game with Kiki Ramen. Located in Amazon’s Doppler building, Kiki Ramen replaces Bar Noroeste in the hopes of catering to the hungry lunch crowd, and is the latest addition to Henderson’s restaurant empire, Huxley Wallace Collective.

Why ramen? Henderson loves ramen and really wanted something that would resonate in the neighborhood. Ramen naturally fit the bill for being quick, delicious, and affordable.

The location shares a hallway with Henderson’s Great State Burger and consists of a bar, a smattering of tables, and more bar-style seating along the windows. Definitely not the place for a large group, but fabulous if you’re flying solo or with a few people.

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We visited a few days after they opened, and were surprised to find out that only ramen is available during lunch service. For those of you hoping to supplement your ramen with a small plate, please note these don’t become available until happy hour, but likely will in the future.

The ramen menu has all of the usual suspects, along with a brothless version you don’t find on many menus. We started with the lazy devils, which were ramen eggs topped with kewpie mayo, toasted panko, green onion, and gojuchang sauce. The eggs were perfectly cooked with soft yolks and a nice riff on deviled eggs. The toasted panko added a nice crunchy texture that played nicely with the creamy eggs, while the gojuchang offered just a smidge of heat. Overall, we found the lazy devils delicious, but the kewpie mayo overwhelmed the delicate flavor of the marinated eggs. Next up was the kimchi fried rice, which was packed with crispy pork belly, spicy kimchi, and egg. This was extremely flavorful, and the addition of brussels sprouts worked well here. The dish was topped with mayo, pickled ginger, and sprinkled with scallions. When mixed in, the mayo added a nice creaminess to the rice and helped cut through the spicy kimchi. If you love Italian arancini, you’ll likely love the takigomi tots. Think panko-fried mushroom rice balls, with a side of pickled plum sauce. While the tots had great shiitake mushroom flavor, we found they lacked salt/seasoning, particularly when paired with the pickled plum sauce. They sort of just got lost in the tangy-ness of the sauce.

While the small bites were good, we really came here for the ramen. For all you vegetarians who have a tough time with pork-based broths, the veggie miso is packed with vegetarian dashi seasoned with roasted garlic and miso, fried tofu, black garlic oil, marinated egg, shiitake mushroom, bamboo shoots, and green onion. Basically, a vegetarian’s dream. The broth was hearty, but the noodles were a tad overcooked for our liking. This was a very garlic-forward dish, so if you’re shy about strong garlic flavors, but love heat, you might want to try the spicy miso ramen. This had a much more traditional rich pork broth base, with the addition of chili paste and miso for flavor. Pork belly, marinated egg, and shiitake mushrooms rounded out the bowl. The broth was much richer than the veggie miso, and lacked the heat the name would suggest. For those of you who love heat, you may need to add chili oil to ratchet the spice up a few notches. We ended our ramen journey with the mabo dofu mazemen, which was definitely our favorite. The brothless thick ramen noodles stood up to the szechuan peppercorn seasoned ground pork, tofu, green onions, and fresh egg yolk. When mixed together, this was reminiscent of a creamy carbonara, or cacio e pepe. The thicker noodles had a nice chew, and the flavor profile was on point. We highly recommend this dish if you’re looking to get out of your ramen comfort zone.

Overall, the menu, food, and price point are what you would expect at a ramen joint in SLU, with the addition of a full bar slinging cocktails like the cucumber ricky, and the sake colada to offset the hearty bowls of ramen. If you’re not into ramen and just got dragged along for the ride, there’s enough small bites to satiate even the biggest appetites.

Kiki Ramen | 2051 7th Ave, Seattle, WA 98121 | Open 7 days week

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