I’m a big fan of birria ramen. It’s one of my favorite dishes available in Wichita and has made its way nationally to Carlos O’Kelly’s. We made our way over to the east 13th street location for some “Inspired Mex” as their menu implies.
Our meal started with complimentary chips and salsa. Carlos O’Kelly’s had lots of tomato and onions in it. It was a thicker style of salsa commonly found at Tex-Mex restaurants, but still addictive. This isn’t a place I often frequent, but I’ll give them some credit. I’ve always enjoyed their chips and salsa.
From there, I ordered the birria ramen. This dish came out quickly.
Their menu described the dish as embodying inspired Mex with a fusion of traditional Mexican and Japanese flavors. Juicy birria highlights a colorful bowl of tasty flavors and texture in a rich and savory consomé. Soba noodles, corn, and cilantro, onions, shredded radish and southwest croutons.
For starters, it truly was a colorful bowl, but that’s about where it ended. Nearly every birria ramen I’ve seen around town had a more soupy appearance to it. There was very little consomé in this dish, which also happened to be the most disappointing part of everything. This version had a very thick texture that didn’t pack as much flavor as I was hoping for. The noodles were very dry and starchy. The beef birria wasn’t all that bad. This did have some heat to it, but I felt very underwhelmed once I finished it.
One area, I wish would have been better was the service. It wasn’t an issue of being understaffed or overly busy, as our server only had two tables during our visit. Our problems were all basic trainable items, such as getting drinks to the table. It took us twenty minutes for us to get a drink order in. Then some of our food came to our table before and we still never received drinks. We had to remind our server for drinks, then after that we were never offered refills until the very end of our meal. We would be told by our server that it was his first time serving. Everything was slow, we still tipped over 20%, but you could tell he wasn’t quite ready. This, on top of the underwhelming meal, just gave me an uninspired experience for a restaurant offering inspired Mex.
Here’s their menu:
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