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Great Eats: Here’s what brought Rakkii Ramen to Smithtown

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Rakkii Ramen opened its doors in November 2019.

Owner Alex Duan, 53, recalls the grand opening as being “crazy” packed — mainly because it was the only ramen shop in the area.

“Some customers came all the way from Deer Park and the South Shore just for ramen,” Duan said.

Then the state’s COVID-19 containment measures a few months later brought everything to a halt.

But Rakki Ramen muscled through quarantine.

Duan said that, despite the uncertainty and stress, he survived just fine —thanks largely to the support of the Smithtown community through which he had cultivated a fast following.

“But I’m one of the lucky ones,” he said. “I’m still open.”

the back story

Rakkii Ramen is part of a chain started by Duan’s best friend Marco Lu, who had approached Duan about opening a ramen shop a few years ago.

Lu had gone to Japan for three months of training in the kitchen before returning to the U.S. and building the first-ever Rakkii Ramen in Bethlehem, Pa., in 2018.

Duan said he was too busy at the time to get involved with the Pennsylvania venture, but when it took off, well then he found the time.

He knew it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.

headed to the island

“So I decided to join the team and bought the franchise for the entire Long Island area,” Duan said.

Duan, who now lives in Mount Sinai, says he came to Long Island from China in 1999. For the 21 years he’s lived here, he fell in love with the Smithtown area, but took notice there were no ramen restaurants around, despite its popularity elsewhere in Suffolk and Nassau.

Duan has high hopes for the future of Rakkii Ramen and plans to open a new location on Long Island each year over a span of five years. 

He says he’s already eyeing spots for a South Shore Rakkii Ramen.

if you go

Rakkii Ramen’s menu is broken up into three parts: before noodles, noodles, and after noodles.

Some “before noodles” items include appetizers like noodle wrapped shrimp, chashu bun, gyoza, and karaage calamari.

“After noodles” lists two Japanese desserts: black sesame panna cotta and mochi ice cream.

And, of course, “noodles” portion of the menu offers an array of ramen dishes, like shoyu ramen, vegetable ramen, and seafood udon.

The two fan favorites are the tonkotsu ramen and the spicy miso ramen. 

The menu also offers several varieties of rice bowls, bubble tea, and fruit tea, which Duan says are very popular.

Click here for Rakkii Ramen’s full menu.