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Friday, June 26, 2015

Wabi House Soft Opening

Wednesday night was the soft opening of the new ramen shop in Lower Greenville, Wabi House. To be honest, I heard about this place a while ago and had completely forgotten about it. But thanks to all the food publications I subscribe to... I found out a week prior that it was opening. And they take reservations!! So I got a group of friends together to go check out their first night of business. I also made another reservation for 3 weeks later so we can see how their soft opening is vs business after a few weeks.

I was excited to see that they were offering dry ramen (mazemen) and dipping ramen (tsukemen) in their menu. I've definitely never had either in Dallas yet. And I like those better than broth ramen in general. :)

Wabi House
1802 Greenville Avenue, Suite 100
Dallas, TX 75206
Price: $$-$$$

We arrived a few minutes before our reservation at 6:30PM. The place was still empty so we were seated immediately. We were greeted quickly by our waiter. He was very friendly and seemed excited that we were there! He was very eager to give us recommendations on the menu items which was cool. We were still waiting for 2 more people so kinda took our time.

Finally we decided to go ahead and get some appetizers while waiting for the rest of the group. We got a few things to share at the table.

Hama Rayu (hamachi, rayu, mustard vinaigrette, cilantro, scallion. sesame) $15~ 
This was really really tasty. The hamachi (yellowtail) was fresh. But the star was the sauce. Between the mustard vinaigrette and rayu (chili oil), the flavor was great. I loved the extra hint of spice. However, each order only comes with 6 pieces, which I think is a little expensive for $15... 

Beets 'n Brussels (brussels sprouts, cashews, fried beets) $7~ 
I always have to get the Brussels Sprouts. This was also very good. The beets were shaved thin and fried which was a nice contrast to the brussels. The beets also added a sweetness to the dish. And I had forgotten there were nuts, they were hidden on the bottom. It added another layer of flavor and texture to the dish. I enjoyed it a lot.

Crispy Pork Ears (deep fried pork ears with house seasonings, bonito aioli) $9~ 
I love pork ears. Grew up eating them my whole life but rarely fried. I felt like they were sliced way too thin so it basically became crispy/oil sticks. It was a little heavy and I really didn't get any of the texture of the pork ears, which is the best part of eating it. The bonito aioli tho... yum! I put some of that on the brussels. hehe. I think this has room for improvement. As long as the pork ears are thicker, I think it'll be great.

So far so good. We were all excited to try the ramen!

Tonkotsu Ramen (chashu, woodear mushrooms, butter corn, egg, mayu oil, negi) $11~
Pretty much everyone got this except me. Everyone had their own variation though by adding extra toppings. Some added extra corn, some got extra eggs and chashu. It certainly was a pretty bowl. It looks like ramen I've gotten in Japan. So the noodles are the thin straight ones... booo. I really don't like those. I feel like they lack the chewy texture. I really prefer the curly kind. :( Everyone said it was good, but not the best they've had. Pretty much everyone in this group has had ramen outside of Dallas and has pretty high standards. They rated it average 3-3.5 out of everything they've ever had. I'd say that's a decent start for first night of business. The broth needed more depth of flavor, everything else was fine. One friend said the "umami" that ramen broth is supposed to have was lacking a little.

Dry Garlic (fresh garlic, garlic chips, dashi butter, chashu, nori strips, poached egg, cucumber) $11~ 
I got the dry ramen (mazemen). I prefer these because they normally have thicker/chewier noodles. And this was no exception. The noodles were way thicker than the broth ramen and they were awesome. Cooked perfectly al dente. I loved it. The poached egg was also fantastic and very necessary. It created a richness to the dish and held everything together. The flavor, however, left much to be desired. The garlic was definitely not lacking, but everything else was. It needed more salt, or spice, or something... I added some of my friend's extra spicy rayu in there and helped some. If there wasn't that poached egg, this dish would've failed. The cucumbers were a nice touch of freshness but were sliced too big... I think thinner slices would mix together with the noodles much better. And I felt they were a little stingy with the chashu. My piece of pork was barely a whole slice. It was nice and tender though. I ended up eating the entire bowl still just because I loved the noodles so much. And it was a huge bowl... way more than the broth ramen. I was so full!!!

Extra Toppings:
Chashu +$3~ (pork)
Egg +$2~
Woodear +$1~ (mushroom)
Corn $1~
Spicy Rayu $1~ (chili oil)

We had a good time. I think the food in general was good and shows a lot of promise. We're excited to go back in a few weeks and see how they've improved. As far as soft opening goes, I think they did a great job. Service was good, our waiter was nice, and our checks were separated properly. I'll be really happy if they improve and we actually have a good ramen place in Dallas! I had pretty much given up hope by now... Next time I want to try their tsukemen (dipping ramen)! The only other thing is that the price is a bit high. In Japan (or Cali), you can get an awesome bowl of ramen for around $10 and you can even get extra noodles for free. For some reason Dallas thinks ramen should be almost $20 a bowl after you add all the extra stuff. Booo... But IF they can match the quality to the price, I might feel better about paying it. haha.

So... see you soon, Wabi House. We're coming back! Their grand opening is this Saturday, 6/26. And I believe they are donating their proceeds to charity. I won't be able to make it, but you guys should go check them out! :) They also have a full bar, I believe, and I've heard their cocktails are good.

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