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Japanese ramen chain to open store in Bellevue

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Kukai / Kookai opening their first US store in Bellevue.

http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/voraci...

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  1. Have you been to one of their branches? Respectable?

    1 Reply
    1. re: GreenYoshi

      I remember having it years ago. Though when you're there, it's hard to find "bad" food when you follow the crowds. Who knows how it'll all translate once it gets over here.

    2. Thanks for sharing this! Looking forward to trying it out whenever it opens.

      1. i am looking forward to this! thanks for the heads up.

        1. This chain is all over Tokyo, and is quite highly regarded. Should be good, I suppose, since you are not likely to have much in the way of authentic Japanese ramen.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Tripeler

            Just got back from Japan, where we LOVED Ippudo's ramen. Ippudo is in NY; sure wish they'd open a branch here. Hopefully this will be as good.

          2. looks like they are open.?
            no reviews, no pictures. only basic info up on yelp.

            http://www.yelp.com/biz/kukai-ramen-a...

            9 Replies
            1. re: ritabwh

              Naw, not open yet. Jist went by and they're still doing a lot of work on the interior. Probably at least a few weeks away from opening.

              1. re: ritabwh

                Their Facebook says mid-December. Which probably means late January.

                1. re: HungWeiLo

                  well darn. but i guess i'd rather navigate downtown bellevue in january than in december. btw, i can barely read what i am typing.
                  :-(

                  1. re: ritabwh

                    Well, it's not in Downtown, it's by Szechuan Chef and the new Wal-Mart near Kelsey Creek/Lake Hills.

                    1. re: ritabwh

                      No kidding. I live 2 miles away from Bellevue Square and it's actually faster for me to hop onto 520 and go to downtown Seattle instead on some nights.

                      But yeah, as mentioned, they're in Kelsey Creek. Though the 148th traffic does backup quite badly around commute time.

                      1. re: HungWeiLo

                        thanks everyone for the heads up on the location. i used to commute to bellevue square for over 4 years, but never ventured much further out from that area. i am looking forward to this, but it will be in january.
                        please report back, do they make the noodles in-house?

                    2. re: HungWeiLo

                      called them last night and they picked up. The lady said they will be opening on Dec 20th. Along with the regular broths they will also be featuring a Yuzu-Shio broth that i'm excited to try.

                      1. re: shaolinLFE

                        Thanks for the update. That yuzu-shio broth sounds good. Does anyone know if yuzu is available in the Seattle/Bellevue area?

                        1. re: PAO

                          i am suren uwajimaya in bellevue and seattle should carry it.
                          also try ranch 99 market as well as most korean groceries.
                          the last bottle i purchased as at ranch 99 in shoreline.
                          hope this helps.

                  2. Kukai has posted a Facebook message that their opening has been delayed--no specific date yet for when they will open.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: PAO

                      so, hungweilo was right! mid december = mid january.
                      it is what it is. i am looking forward to their opening.
                      is there a chance for a chowdown to be arranged?
                      i'm not sure if chowdown is the right word? i mean a group of chowhounds getting together to dine at an establishment?

                      1. re: ritabwh

                        I'm in.

                        1. re: ritabwh

                          I might be able to do that!

                      2. Another Facebook message from Kukai: they open tomorrow!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: PAO

                          Mixed reviews from two separate friends who went tonight - one enjoyed it while the other had a bad experience (lukewarm broth, long waits, service issues). I'll probably give them a few weeks to iron out the kinks before trying it out.

                        2. Here's their latest message on FB: Dear Friends, we have been opening for two days already! We thought that we might have just a few FB friends coming in so we can take it easy and continue our training, but then it ended up 5 times more customers than what we expected. We want to say sorry for all the friends who came in; we failed you. :( We were so slow, POS was not running right, tickets were missing...ETC We sincerely apologize for all the mistakes. I hope to have you come back again in the future. We promise, we will gradually improve. Also, in order to take care of the madness after lunch hour, we will be closing during 3PM to 5PM. We will resume the afternoon business hour ASAP. For now, please bare with us!! Thank you so much for all the support and tolerance. We really appreciate that!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: PAO

                            "Please bare with us" made me smile.

                            So I did go check them out on Dec 21st, the 2nd day they were open. I can attest that they did run out of food items and still have many kinks to work out.

                            Service:
                            Service was spotty in what I observed. the bowls of ramen didnt come out at the same time to a table; a young couple with a baby was left unattended that i had to wave a server down to help them, were just some of the examples that i recall.

                            Izakaya:
                            they pegged themselves as a ramen and izakaya joint and also had a few skewers. we ordered the spinach and ginger soy dressing and the karaage (we just finished snowboarding so dont judge me!). the spinach was undercooked and the dressing was so salty that it was inedible. the chicken karaage was ok but you cant really screw up fried chicken. their izakaya dishes seem to be an afterthought to the ramen.

                            ramen broth:
                            along with shio, shoyu, and tonkotsu, they have the yuzu-shio and a chicken broth that i cant remember right now. we ordered the shoyu and the yuzu. the shoyu broth was great! it had much more depth than a typical flat shoyu broth. my yuzu-shio had a light sweet citrus taste with a salt back to balance it. i found the broth to be highlights. they do lack a miso broth so a good miso ramen is still missing in Seattle.
                            Ramen Noodles:
                            noodles were firm and chewy. not a highlight for me but definitely not a lowlight. bad noodles could sink a place for me.
                            Ramen toppings:
                            the bowls came with some veggies (yu-choy or mustard greens), a chargrilled slice of chasu which was excellent and sets kukai apart from other Seattle ramen joints. i only wish there was more. The flavored soft-boiled egg came in whole where some pictures showed that it was halved. i love me some soft boiled eggs in ramen and dont get that much at other Seattle ramen restaurants. I wish it was halved so i dont have to take caveman bite out of the egg and have all the yolk spill out at once.

                            conclusion:
                            i'll be coming back. although the izakaya and the service wasnt to par on my experience, i knew it was only the 2nd day. I will give them sometime as i know they put their first focus on the ramen. i suggest getting their a little before 5pm as we were there and already had a line before they opened. i'm sure they will fix their izakaya menu items after more practice. plus i am a sucka for bacon wrapped mochi skewers.