With its growing population, new businesses, and frequent expansion, the Lehigh Valley is a place in which many would be happy to reside. Some would even argue that attractions like the PPL Center, Coca-Cola Park, and Crayola Factory make the region unique and worth visiting. But, if you really think about it, the Lehigh Valley is nothing more than your typical, land-locked suburb of the United States. If you were to zoom out on a map of the country and pinpoint the Lehigh Valley, it would be nothing more than a dot. This raises the questions of connection and originality. How does the Lehigh Valley remain memorable? How does this small region differentiate itself from all the other constituents of American suburbia? What connects the Lehigh Valley to the rest of the world? The answer lies within restaurants such as Takkii Ramen of Allentown.
Located on Mill Creek Road within walking distance of Walmart, Takkii Ramen is a small eatery featuring both takeout and sit-down options. A mural of Japanese scenery spans the right wall as you walk in, and a spacious seating area spills throughout the building. Warm, yellow lights fill the restaurant with an inviting aura. Due to COVID-19, my order was placed over the phone and picked up, but you can also order and eat in the building. Inquiries regarding menu items were promptly answered over the phone prior to receiving the food, with friendly employees managing both the kitchen and cash register.
Takkii Ramen holds an average review of about three stars on Yelp, with almost all reviews only touching on the restaurant’s chief dish, ramen. However, the menu is packed with many appetizers and drinks that seem to lack attention from customers. With traditional Japanese sides and customizable bubble tea options, I decided to explore the menu and discover the other dishes Takkii Ramen has to offer. I tried the Takoyaki and Milk Green Tea with Boba from their menu.
Takoyaki is a Japanese street food of fried octopus balls. Priced at $6.95 for four pieces, each octopus ball costs about $1.74. The Takoyaki was housed in a sealed takeout container that retained the dish’s heat, allowing for an authentic dining experience, even from home. Each ball sat on a bed of greens and was topped with spicy Japanese mayonnaise, bonito (fish) flakes, and takoyaki sauce, which is a sweet, brown sauce reminiscent of Worcestershire sauce. The greens surrounding the Takoyaki absorbed the sweet smokiness of the garnishes and added a pleasant layer of texture to the dish. Each Takoyaki offered a soft crunch of batter before revealing the ball’s inner filling, which consisted of more batter, green onion, and octopus chunks. Sweet notes of ginger coupled well with the chewiness of the octopus. The flavor contained in each bite is authentic enough to place customers on the streets of Tokyo. Overall, the Takoyaki was a tender, melt-in-your-mouth experience, but could have used more garnishes and a larger portion size.
To go along with the savory appetizer, I ordered a Milk Green Tea ($4.50) with Boba (50 cents). Boba, also known as “boba tea” or “bubble tea,” is a recently-popularized drink originating from Taiwan. Most bubble teas contain either a fruit or milk-based tea, with tapioca pearls sitting at the bottom of the cup. When ordering from Takkii Ramen, the tea and boba pearls are purchased separately, as they are customizable, and the flavor options are endless.
The beverage came in a thick, sturdy cup, and included a large straw specifically for drinks with toppings. However, the cup’s lid was a thin paper, which absorbed the drink and became soggy. Focusing on the tea itself, herbal flavors and milky flavors were combined to create a sweet richness. There was an ideal balance between milk and tea flavors. Tapioca pearls, which were doused in brown sugar syrup, filled a small portion of the cup. They complimented the tea’s flavor very well, but were consumed much earlier than the rest of the drink. The soft chewiness of the pearls provided contrast with the silkiness of the tea. At a total of $5, this boba is a solid take on the popular drink and is one of the best in the area. However, the boba portion is measly considering it costs an additional 50 cents.
Proving itself with authentic, flavorful sides, Takkii Ramen is one of the best purveyors of Asian cuisine in the area. The Takoyaki and Milk Green Tea with Boba are rare finds that are not to be passed up. Anyone looking for a switch from the boring cheeseburger or repetitive coffee can find something pleasant on the menu, and even at its slightly higher price point, Takkii Ramen scores a 4/5.