9.26.2013

Restaurant Review: Tanoshii in Deep Ellum


Take one simple bite of ramen at a restaurant, close your eyes, and you're suddenly transported to a dormatory study lounge at 2 am.

The last time I had Ramen noodles, I was 19.

Okay -- that's totally a lie.  I was 29, in the breakroom of a previous job.  It was 2pm, and I still had tons of work to do so I found Ramen to the rescue.  An admin walks in with her lunch and a novel and she said "Ramen?  I didn't think anyone past the age of 20 had ramen anymore."  Yikes.  Not only will I have a crappy lunch but now I get to feel embarrassed about it too.  Meanie.  :(  

Five years later, I find myself in line for the grand opening of Tanoshii ramen.  Why?  I don't know.  I'm really trying to understand the ramen craze.  

For vegetarian diners, there are a few options - they aren't great.

You can really tell when a restaurant is burdened by vegetarians or is up for the challenge.  

I don't expect "above and beyond" for vegetarian items, but I can tell that less thought went into the vegetarian/vegan dishes.

To start, we ordered the shishito peppers, but it's seasonal, as mentioned on the menu, so they didn't have those.  That's a minus for me, if you KNOW your opening day and you put it on the menu and then say "oh we don't have that because it's seasonal".  I think it's better to have a seasonal menu.  When you write "seasonal", the patron doesn't know if it's available or not.

The menu was riveted together at the top which makes it very awkward to page through it.  You can get a crick in your neck OR crease the pages of their brand new menus.  I chose my neck.

Our server, Kenneth, was outstanding.  Very polite and had a nice smile and didn't let on at all that opening day was ridiculously crazy and/or stressful.  He gave us some recommendations.  Just a really nice guy.  I tested him and asked him what Tanoshii means, and he passed, so Kenneth is definitely paying attention and doing his job well.


We ordered sweet potato dumplings, which were tasty and flavorful.  The size of the dumplings were really small and quantity was low (6 pcs).  I think that dish should be  at LEAST 8 pcs/order.  But again, very flavorful, just gone in 3 seconds.

Then I ordered edamame just because we were famished and needed something to hold us over until our food arrived.  The edamame was perfect.

We ordered a curry noodle dish with the vegan option (topped with specialty mushrooms).  Are ramen noodles vegan?  I wasn't sure, but I'm not vegan. The curry sauce was spicy but very tasty.  There were some grape tomatoes and microgreens, but not much visible other than that.

We also ordered a beautiful soupy dish with Tofu (the only vegetarian broth item on the menu) which was equally flavorful but a bit on the salty side.  I don't mind though - i thought it was good.  The tofu was panko crusted, but then buried in a bowl of soup, hence loosing the intended texture.  What's the point?  And why only 5 cubes of tofu?  Am i 6 years old? 

The ambiance on opening night was very...young.  I guess Ramen has a way of attracting 20 something student types.  Nothing wrong with that  - looks like a lot of singles hanging out in groups having a good time. 

The mood of the place is confusing - the decor is fresh modern and clean.  The clientele is more casual young singles and the prices were in between. Bright, well-lit lighting.  It's hard to know what this place is trying to be?  

Seating was a horrible experience.  On opening night, the wait was 1.5 hrs - which we agreed to and hung out at other places in Deep Ellum until seating time.  Then 1.5 hrs passed and I hadn't heard back.  We went back to the restaurant and the inexperienced hostesses said "oh we aren't seating anymore" and I said "our name is on the list since 8 pm - just wondering when we might get seated"  She said well we probably aren't going to seat anymore.  It's almost 10 pm and well, it's opening night"  Wow.  Then she decided to emphasize one more time that it's opening night.  If she told me at 8pm, that's acceptable. But I don't want to wait 1.5 hrs to find out that you aren't seating me?   Then a lot of people finished their meals at once so some tables cleared up, and we were able to sit down.  But what a sour way to start the night.

We didn't have dessert.  Instead, we chose to go home and knock out a row of Oreos...you know, staying with the "college diet" ramen theme.

SUMMARY: Flavor of dishes were good but not for the price point.  Selection, eh.  Service, excellent.  Atmosphere, huh?

I must remind myself however, that it WAS opening night, and it is simply, RAMEN.

A big understated and underrated plus is that Tanoshii is open until 3am on weekends.  At 2 am, this might be what Dallas needs, compared to Mai's in Houston, which is always packed in the wee hours of the morning.  Secondly, maybe Tanoshii will assist in keeping drunk drivers off of the road and into a bowl of noodles instead.

2 comments:

  1. Next time I come to Big D, I will put that on the list of places you and I won't go. It was fun to read, though! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Adair, ha! I loved this comment! Please do call me next time you are in Big D - we'll go grab a bite to eat as foodies should!

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