Karai Bistro Japan
If you are looking for authentic ramen, look no further than Karai Bistro Japan. Chef Levi has been known in the Jacksonville community as having some of the best ramen and Japanese cuisine. He has worked at many different Asian restaurants in town but Karai marks his start as a restaurant owner. The restaurant is located in a strip mall on the corner of Beach/San Pablo (former Walmart shopping center). Once you step food inside you are magically transported to Japan as the interior is beautifully decorated in authentic décor. From the dining room you can see right into the kitchen to watch Chef Levi work, which is something I love. Open kitchens are so inviting as they show that the restaurant has nothing to hide, and in this case it serves as an easy way for the staff to check on the tables to see if they need anything. Watching Chef Levi work you can really see the attention to detail and love that he puts into every dish that comes out of the kitchen.
We started our meal with Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken pieces.) We were in love with these. The outsides were crispy while the insides were juicy. I kept popping these like they were candy. We also tried the Fried Gyoza because I can’t go anywhere and NOT get Gyoza if it’s on the menu. I’m a tad bit obsessed and don’t even care who knows. These were also a hit with the table. The wrapper was firm and held all of the goodies inside with no problem.
My husband decided on the Karai Ramen (Spicy rich broth with a combo of ground sesame, Japanese hot sauce & white miso. Topped with spicy ground beef, scallions, minced onions, garlic & onsen tamago. Stock made from chicken and pork.) I had my eye on this one but let him give it a test run in case the spice level was too high for me. I tried a bite and was pleased to discover that it’s on the mild/medium side. Just enough to make my sinuses protest, but not enough to scare me away from ordering it next time (which I did by the way). The sauce was very robust and flavorful; definitely something I wouldn’t mind slurping from the bowl after the meal. In keeping with traditional ramen, the noodles were al dente and plentiful. This will definitely be my go to ramen at Karai.
Verdict: Loved it!
Ramen is one of my favorite dishes and for a while Jax was severely lacking in that department. With the addition of Karai, I now have a place to go whenever the cravings strike. Chef Levi is a master of his craft and a very lovely person to boot. He is always welcoming and polite whenever we visit. I highly recommend Karai Bistro Japan and urge everyone to visit as soon as you can. You will not regret it.