I’m pretty thrilled with this new noodle craze that has struck Raleigh, and the triangle area. Between the new Pho places and this new Ramen restaurant, I’m so noodled up that it’s almost silly. They don’t take reservations, or offer carry out, but they do have a NoWait guest app that should make your time without a table a little shorter. Check out the app, download it, and use it when you dine at several restaurants in your area.
From the lovely folks that brought us Toast in Durham and an event space called The Cookery (also Durham), comes a Ramen shop (yep, Durham) with a lot of spunk. If you’re thinking…ramen? You mean that little pouch of crap that costs about 50 cents per packet that I used to eat in college? Well, yes…sort of, and also not really. Yeah, those are ramen noodles and, while I will admit that I made them often enough in college to say I “lived on them,” I was so excited and surprised by what I found the nights I ate dinner at Dashi. I had tried to stop in the first weekend they were open but after the 30 minute drive, I found the around the block wait a bit daunting and went back home for something I knew would be much quicker. When I finally made it back, a few months later on a weeknight, I was so happy to have made the trip.
The first floor of the space is a gorgeous Ramen bar, while the upstairs is an izakaya (which is a Japanese pub). The Ramen bar offers a few of the small plates from upstairs, so we decided to sit there and get the best of both worlds. I sat in the izakaya for a minute or so while I waited for my companion. It was very pretty, comfortable lighting and great music. Just my type of atmosphere.
The first thing we ordered was the Smoked Octopus and Kombu salad ($10). It was a fine sized portion for sharing, knowing we had a huge bowl of ramen coming. Kombu is an edible kelp that a common dish in East Asia. It was chewy, delicious and went very very well with the texture and flavor of the octopus. There was plenty of octopus and the seasoning was a tad sour, and spot on. I loved the addition of the pickled fresno chili.
We also ordered the Pickle Plate ($7). The pickled items were delightful! The kimchi was absolutely perfect, spicy and sour, delicate, with just a hint of sweet.
For both of my visits, I ordered the vegetarian ramen with additional shrimp ($12 for ramen + $6 for shrimp). The broth was nicely salted and the whole dish was topped with an amazing chive butter. It gave the broth a salty, meaty richness that I dreamt about after eating it. All of the veggies were crunchy, which was perfect!
One of my dining guests ordered the Miso bowl ($13). It was packed full of pork, eggs peas, cabbage and scallions. She added the avocado for a small up charge ($1). She loved it! Ate almost the whole thing, making yummy noises the whole time.
The last dish was made gluten free (with rice noodles). My companion ordered the Tonkatsu ($14), which sounded like absolute heaven to me. Pork belly, escarole, soft egg and shitake mushrooms. While meat products often cause me to have issues with my digestion, I nearly risked it just from the smell coming from that bowl. Yeah, she ate most of it. She took the remainder home (which the waitress explained wouldn’t be perfect, but is still tasty). I never heard how it turned out for her, but I’m assuming it was just fine.
They also offer Omakase Dining at Dashi. If you have a party of 8-14, you can make a reservation at least a week in advance, sit in the Izikaya and let the chef create a meal for you. They have a 5 course tasting menu with optional sake tasting for $35/person (m-th) and $45/person (f-sa). The sake pairing is an additional $25. I think this sounds like a great experience! There is something so amazing about putting yourself in a chef’s hands and letting them completely take the wheel.
I will go back especially now that I know the Parlour in Durham makes special ice cream just for them! They sounded awesome, but I had stopped in at the Parlour earlier and saw they a tiramisu sundae on the menu and since I had my hopes up, I figured I should go that route. Next time, I’ll plan on staying for dessert! The honeysuckle ice cream with mochi has been calling me…