Ika Restaurant Review
December 7, 2018
Ika Ramen and Izakaya is an Authentic Asian eatery that specializes in Japanese cuisine. The restaurant intermixes Japanese culture with attitudes influenced by African American culture and lies in a strip of Benson that probably holds Omaha’s most active nightlife.
When arriving to the Ika, its small yet wheelchair accessible entrance was what first caught my eye, along with the manager greeting us talking about how important accessibility is to Ika, in making a restaurant that everyone can indulge in. Next, was the open seating, as busy as restaurant’s get on a Friday night Ika was extremely flexible with where my part of four wanted to be seated.
While waiting on the kitchen to receive our orders, I quickly noticed all the details that make the restaurant feel such a cohesive eatery given its location and cultural background. The restaurant infuses it’s Japanese roots by intermingling Japanese words for some of its ingredients listed under the dishes name. For people like myself, who are strangers to the language, the translations are listed on the wall in front of the dining area for a fun little scavenger hunt for their customers. The restaurant also has a TV in the corner that plays 90’s and 2000’s anime series. Although sound is being drown out by customer’s conversation’s and background music the subtitles are always on. The restaurant also pays homage to its Benson’s location, featuring graffiti, a style of art that has a deep connection to black culture and is featured on almost every street in Benson.
Finally, the food arrives. If there’s one recommendation that needs to be made to a first-time visitor of Ika, it has to be the Benson Bomb, an appetizer that is made of chicharrones (a piece of fried pork crackling), crispy pork, onions and drizzled with spicy mayo. By far the best dish on the menu, the mix of the tangy but sweet mayonnaise mixed with the crunchiness of the chicharrones intermixed with the pork is one you have to experience for yourself.
The next dish on the list of favorites from my visit is the Tonkotsu bowl, which was recommended to me as being the best ramen bowel by the server. The Tonkotsu bowl was composed of ajimata (half boiled eggs), negi (green onions), garlic, and char siu (pork belly). The broth made of rich pork, was delicious and honestly the best ramen I’ve had in Omaha. The only downside of the bowl was the ajimata, as I much prefer my eggs boiled or not fully cooked. The only plate I would stay away from is the Ebi Goyza, the sogginess of the goyza does well with chopsticks ending up creating a mess that’s not worth the blandness of the goyza. Overall, Ika definitely deserves more recognition and is more than worthy to be your next restaurant visit.