Welcome to You Gotta Try This, a new regular SCENE feature in which we highlight some of the tastiest food in the Yakima Valley. It’s been a tough year for restaurant workers and owners. But it’s been inspiring to watch them adapt while continuing to produce food worth raving about. This is our effort at recognizing their very best. We hope it helps them. We know it will help all of you hungry people.
■ What you gotta try
You gotta try Ramen-Ya, the ramen spot that opened a few months back at 3508 Summitview Ave. More specifically, you gotta try the pork shoyu ramen. You also gotta try the cucumber salad. In fact, if you don’t get the cucumber salad I will be personally insulted and offended.
■ Why you gotta try it
A caveat before I begin: I’m not a ramen expert; we didn’t have a ton of it where and when I grew up (Michigan in the late 20th century); and I have only eaten at maybe half a dozen ramen places since moving to the Northwest.
With that out of the way, this stuff is outstanding. It’s the best ramen I’ve had in Yakima (apologies to the also-very-good Captain Crab and Ramen, which to be fair has much more variety) and is on par with the stuff at my favorite Seattle spot, Arashi Ramen. The pork chashu is just right, impossibly tender without being mushy. The broth is teeming with flavors but balanced. The marinated soft-boiled egg — the secret weapon in all of the best ramen bowls — is a perfectly cooked gem of yolk-oozing richness. It’s just a first-rate ramen experience all around.
And still the cucumber salad steals the show. It’s a textural roller coaster with the crunch of cucumber, radish and peanut accented by a crispy topping of sesame seeds and magic. It’s tied together by a citrus vinaigrette and a little gochugaru pepper heat. It’s a simple, fresh dish and an excellent counterpoint to the richness of the ramen.
■ What else you gotta know about the joint
Michelle Kim and Greg Perrault opened quietly in October and have thus far been open for lunch (11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.) Tuesday-Friday only. They started limited dine-in service last week in accordance with the state’s COVID reopening guidelines. In addition to soft drinks, they offer a nicely curated selection of sake, beer and wine. Ramen and rice-bowl entrees cost $13.50 to $16. Desserts and sides cost $3 to $7. (The cucumber salad is the best $6.50 you can spend on a salad in this town.)
It’s located in the old Papa John’s space, a block east of beloved Mexican restaurant Antojitos Mexicanos, making that stretch of Summitview Avenue one of Yakima’s culinary micro-hot-spots. (I say that with tongue planted firmly in cheek, but it’s also literally true.) The interior looks cool in that wood-and-metal, modern-minimalist restaurant kind of way. When we get back to regular dine-in service (and if they start staying open in the evenings) I could see this as a great dinner-date spot.
But don’t wait for that. Get some takeout now.