In a move that’s been over a year in the making via cryptic “coming soon” signage and sporadic posts via social media of what is in the making, Kaiju Bowl and Bao is now finally open in the heart of Downtown Raleigh! The hot new spot is dishing out Asian specialties in an environment that any gamer, anime lover (Japanese animation for the non-initiated) or adventurous diner willing to eat outside the box will genuinely enjoy. Kaiju, meaning ‘strange creature’ in Japanese – is only open for lunch at this time, but is planning on expanding to dinner hours in the next month or so.
The new Asian focused restaurant is located next door to Oak City Meatball Shoppe, which is also owned by the same group of people, Ken Yowell and his few partners.
Diners can order from a small but mighty menu of Japanese staples like ramen, Korean treats like KFC (Korean fried chicken; a much messier and more delicious alternative to the Colonel’s signature eleven herbs and spices) and bibimbap or Chinese bao; steamed buns filled with an assortment of savory and sweet fillings. Despite several Asian countries being represented in the menu, the central theme is clear, delicious, quick and unpretentious – the kinds of food and drinks you’d grab with friends in any of the represented countries.
Mini Asian Tour Around The World
Kaiju’s menu can look intimidating at first glance, so if you’re going with a group definitely order a bit of everything to figure out what flavors you ultimately prefer. The staff is also readily available on hand to explain any of the items you may have never tried, and are very helpful when it comes to informing you about spice levels and specific ingredients within each dish.
So far it seems the most popular dishes are the variety of bao, ranging from savory fried chicken and kale to “Hawaiian” spam and pineapple. The bulgogi bao is perfect for those who enjoy a bit of sweet and savory together, and if you’re feeling really adventurous you can try the fried green tomato bao with pimento cheese and country ham!
If bao isn’t your thing, Kaiju’s ramen game is small but strong, featuring one lunch bowl filled with steaming bone broth, pork belly, poached egg, duck fat, and veggies. Hopefully, with time their ramen offerings will expand, as this bowl was perfect for a rainy summer day and it would be great to have a vegetarian equivalent on the menu.
Get Your Drink On Too!
In addition to tasty bites, Kaiju features a full menu of traditional and innovative drink options. Much like in Korea and Japan, flavored sake and soju are the stars here, featuring dozens of options to enjoy alone, or mixed into one of eight tasty cocktails. Definitely try the G-Dragon which is basically the adult version of a dragon fruit Capri-Sun that lights up! Other options include the Sa-K-Pop and Ttalgi Lemonade; both fruity, refreshing and very easy to drink. If you’re a bit more traditional, there is a full wine and beer list available featuring import and local brews of course!
Kaiju is a welcome new addition to the ever-growing Asian food scene in downtown Raleigh, giving patrons an affordable lunch spot to grab quality and creative specialty foods with friends or co-workers that won’t take forever to be dished out. Stop by, grab a drink, order some tasty dishes to share with your crew, and see if you can name all the references in the restaurant to old monster movies and anime series!
When dining at Kaiju, you’re definitely in for a fun and unique experience that you probably won’t find anywhere else in the area right now.
So what are you looking forward to trying out at Kaiju now that they are open for business? Please be sure to hit us up on Twitter @919BlogNC or visit our Facebook page at FB.com/919Blog and let us know! We would love to hear from ya.
This post was created in collaboration with the Downtown Raleigh Blog editorial team and 919 Blog contributor Brittany Goodman for exclusive digital publication via TBN