Tag Archives: sake

Oni Ramen

In the wake of losing Kin Kin Urban Thai, the space has taken new life as Oni Ramen–it’s a super casual atmosphere that provides you with super quick service a la other quick serve restaurants at lunch and table-side service at dinner. One of the biggest bonuses Oni provides are its hours–Friday and Saturday night they stay until 4 am. I mean Whataburger is great, but fatty, rich ramen sounds like a way better late night choice to me.

Oni has a few speciality ramen options on their incredibly straightforward and simple menu, as well as their signature miso (my personal favorite). From there, you can build your own if those options aren’t doing it for you. Pick a classic ramen then add extra protein, vegetables, and spice of your choice. Toppings include pork belly, chicken thighs, tempura shrimp, soft or hard-boiled eggs, leafy greens, bean sprouts, corn kernels, and many more. But, choose wisely when picking your spice … this isn’t the time to show off in front of you buddies. If you order it too spicy- you’re SOL because they won’t remake your ramen. The “mild” spice is made with ichimi togarashi pepper, “medium” is made with Aleppo and Thai pepper, “hot” is made with habanero and ghost pepper, “fire” is made with ghost/7-pot and scorpion pepper … and then there’s “demon”–a mix of scorpion X and Carolina reaper pepper. I was scared to go beyond “medium” for my whole bowl, but my spice tolerance isn’t that high. From my experience, there is a huge jump in spice between the “medium” and “hot”.

Tonkotsu: pork belly and light chicken broth seasoned with soy
Tonkotsu: pork belly and light chicken broth seasoned with soy

I tried their signature miso–pork belly, corn, bamboo shoots, and sprouts–that was absolutely delicious. The broth was super flavorful and the pork belly was fall- apart tender. I want to go back to try different things, but I really just want more of this signature miso. Life is hard.

GF? Vegetarian? They are super accommodating to customers’ dietary needs. They have a gluten-free ramen item (salt ramen with shirataki-yam noodles), a vegetarian option (cabbage-soy broth topped with woodear), and all ramen is available low sodium.

Ok, what about the drinks? My favorite thing to order with my piping hot ramen is cold sake. Oni has a Gekkeikan Sake machine that pours delicious, cold sake that can be ordered by the carafe. They also have a handful of other sake available along with cocktails. For cocktails, my favorites were the Gomper-san and the Lychee Mule. Drink prices are great all the time at Oni, but for a really good deal, go during happy hour.

Oni Cocktail Menu
Oni Cocktail Menu

BONUS: Tag #‎MyOniBowl for a chance to be featured at Oni as the Ramen Bowl of the Week where other diners can order, eat & enjoy your ramen customization process.

Oni Ramen
oniramen.com
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2801 W 7th Street (Fort Worth)
817-882-6554

Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11am-2:30pm/5pm-10pm
Friday-Saturday 11am-2:30pm/5pm-4am

Hiro Sake

I will be the first to admit … I don’t have a long-standing relationship with sake. While I am well-acquainted with the sake bomb, something tells me most establishments aren’t in the habit of preparing that deceitful duo with hand-crafted, premium sake. (Just a hunch … reinforced by my regular Thursday morning hangovers after Wednesday night sushi night.) This is why I was super excited to have the opportunity to expand my boozy horizons when I found out I would be receiving two bottles of Hiro Sake in the mail.

First, a little background on sake in general, in the event that you’re a total noob, like me: Sake is a Japanese rice wine, representing an integral part of Japanese culture for more than 2,000 years. The fermentation process is not unlike the brewing process for beer; if you are interested in learning more about what that process is like, go here.  Sake is a versatile spirit; it can be served chilled or warmed, and can be enjoyed straight up or in any number of cocktails. It pairs well will Japanese food (DUH), but also cheese, chocolate, and a wide assortment of other foods.

photo 3Now, let’s talk Hiro Sake. Hiro Sake is brewed in the Niigata prefecture, which is apparently the premier sake producing region in Japan. Hiro Sake is a great option for anyone seeking a “lighter, cleaner” cocktail option; Hiro Sake contains only 39 calories per ounce, is gluten free, and contains no preservatives, additives, sulfites, or histamines. Hiro Sake has 1/3 the acidity of wine, making it easier to drink (read: no headache, no heartburn).

Hiro Sake generously sent me two bottles to sample, and the first one I was tried was Hiro Junmai Sake, otherwise known as Hiro Red (which I find slightly easier to remember, but maybe that’s just me). The Hiro Junami (not Jumanji) is brewed using the traditional method, and can be served chilled or warmed. I decided it would only be fair to try it both ways.

First, I opted to try Hiro Junmai warmed. While instructions can be found online for warming sake in the microwave (*wink*), this is apparently not the preferred method for preparing warm sake. Here is what you are SUPPOSED to do:

Place the opened bottle in a pot with water that has almost gotten to boiling point and removed from the stove. Leave the bottle for a couple of minutes until the desired temperature is reached. Serve.

The ideal temperature for hot Japanese Sake depends on everybodys taste, running from 85ºF to 130ºF. Japanese Sake should not be heated above 140ºF or boiled.

So, how was it? Smooth, clean, and light- as promised- with an appealing, mildly bitter edge. Surprisingly easy to drink. This was a great accompaniment for the giant pile of sushi I ordered in honor of my sake tasting party*.

Next, I sampled the Hiro Junmai in a cocktail (again … it’s only fair to do so):

Hiro Sunrise
2 oz HIRO JUNMAI Sake

3 oz orange juice
0.5 oz ounce grenadine cubed ice

Fill a glass with ice. Add HIRO JUNMAI Sake and fill with orange juice; stir. Slowly pour in grenadine and let it settle before serving.

The verdict: this cocktail was delicious (and pretty!), but I have to say that I felt as though the OJ overpowered the delicate flavor of the sake. If you want to experience the sake, experience the sake! I would actually recommend drinking it warmed with no mixer.

photo 2

 


The next sake I sampled was Hiro Junmai Ginjo (aka Hiro Blue). Hiro Junmai Ginjo purports to “bridge the heritage of the past with the way we drink today”. Produced with rice that is polished or milled to remove at least 45% of its original weight, Hiro Junmai Ginjo has added character and body that enables it to be served chilled, on the rocks, or in a cocktail.

After the OJ experience, I decided I really wanted to try the Hiro Junmai Ginjo chilled with no mixers, so I could really experience the flavors of the sake. (Side note: while I was doing my homework online, I read that higher quality sakes are best enjoyed chilled, and lower quality sakes should be reserved for warming. The Junmai Ginjo definitely fits the premium bill.)

I found the Hiro Junmai Ginjo to be exceptionally crisp and light. I was surprised at how delicate the flavors were; just the slightest hint of sweetness with a clean finish. The Junmai Ginjo is delightfully easy to sip. This was my favorite of the two.

If you still insist on enjoying your sake in a cocktail, here are two additional recipes to try (though I strongly encourage you to try it straight up first!):

Super Hiro
2.5 oz HIRO JUNMAI GINJO Sake

1 oz vodka
1 Japanese cucumber cut into rounds for garnish

Pour HIRO JUNMAI GINJO sake and vodka in a cocktail shaker over cubed ice and shake well. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a slice of Japanese cucumber.

Hiro Spritzo
1 oz HIRO JUNMAI  Sake
1 oz prosecco
1 oz Aperol or Campari
1 1/2 oz. soda water

Combine all ingredients. Pour over ice, and serve in a Collins glass or large wine glass.


HIRO SAKE
720 ml and 330 ml bottles
          Hiro Red – $29.99/$15.99 (SRP)
          Hiro Blue – $39.99/$19.99 (SRP)
To find out where you can purchase Hiro Sake, or to purchase online, go here.
*Said party may have consisted of my fiancee and I on the couch in our pajamas, eating take out, trying to catch up on “Game of Thrones” on our HBO Go. But I assure you, it was festive. 

CHINO CHINATOWN

New Trinity Groves Spots a Perfect Reminder of Why Some Nights, You Just Have to Leave Suburbia

Written by Brian Bianco

When Susie first approached me with a sack full of cash and a bottle of whiskey asking me to write for her, her terms were clear–stay far north and leave Dallas to her. Luckily, her busy holiday schedule opened the door for me to not only venture into Dallas proper, but also check out Trinity Groves for the first time for a media preview dinner at Chino Chinatown. It not only gave me a chance to try some highly anticipated Latin-Asian fusion cuisine, but also sample a drink menu that look good on paper.

The hip-casual ambience is set by great tunes and decor that reflects the cuisine (e.g., rockabilly geisha art – so cool).  A friendly and knowledgeable bar staff is also a welcomed change … though “friendly” could mean they where on their best behavior for the press … who knows.

I’ll save you my detailed thoughts on the food since there is plenty of buzz already out there from our food counterparts, but I will say the edamame and shishito pepper dish and the chicken lollipops were both outstanding small plates to well enjoy with a few cocktails.

My biggest regret was not having a few friends with me (or my former college tolerance) to try everything on the drink menu, but I was able to sample a good amount.  CC’s bar program, like a growing number of others in Dallas, was designed by Jason Kosmos, and was reminiscent of nights spent with my lady friend at the no-longer-with-us Marquee Grill (may it rest in peace). 

Chino Chinatown’s introductory press release led with the Mezerac (rye, mescal, cola, cacao bitters) and Tijuana Sling (Remy Martin V, maraca, lime, seltzer), which were both good, but the 47 Ronin* delivered on the fusion promise to give me something the likes of which I hadn’t ever tasted and was, without question, the star of the show.  (The bartender who served it, Adrian Verdin, wanted to make clear is a tribute to the incredibly awesome samurai legend and not the recent Keanu Reeves motion picture. This is an important distinction, because the drink is awesome, and the movie … maybe not so much.)

The bevy of drinks I tried were the Beg, Steal or Borrow (bourbon-based), The Good, The Bad, The Weird (best described as a tequila drink for the non-tequila drinker, in the most positive possible way), Between the Sikhs (Amrut Indian Single Malt Whisky), and the Snake Charmer (vodka and prickly pear that is easy to drink and available by the pitcher). 

In short, if you want a night of good food and a chance to explore some complex drink options, there aren’t many better destinations right now in Dallas.  (Just make sure you order the 47 Ronin and chicken lollipops.)

*A few disclaimers as I review their sake – I’ve never had Japanese whisky and my sake pallet is, uh, being seasoned. Verdin was very proud of the cocktail and was happy to walk me through it as I drank (which is only slightly embarrassing in retrospect, but felt right at the time). The drink is made from Yamakazi 12 Japanese whisky, goji berry groseille, yuzu, and sake, and is a nice mixture of tart and slightly sweet flavors before the whisky takes over and brings it home. If the night had been laid out differently, that would have been my choice drink for the night, and I would have had no regrets.

Drink Strength: 4
Overall: 4.6

sushi axiom

We strolled into Sushi Axiom for our reverse happy hour after a glass at Veritas and a quick meetup at Capitol Pub on a Thursday night.  The bar was somewhat full but the restaurant wasn’t.  We opted for a table on their huge patio since it was a nice night and people watching on Henderson is always interesting.  Once seated, we ordered some rolls and a sampler.  While not a sushi connoisseur, I was with two people who are and didn’t love our spread of food.

The reverse happy hour specials (read: sake) didn’t bring out my sake bomb game, but were fun nonetheless.  Our waitress also made our time at Sushi Axiom quite interesting and the strong drinks didn’t hurt.

I’d say your best bet is to sit at the bar and chat to one of my new favorite bartenders in Dallas, Kevin; he’s good for a good conversation and a laugh or two.  Just stay away from the spring rolls and good luck trying to get the happy hour specials straight!

Drink strength: 4

Sushi Axiom
www.sushiaxiom.net
2323 N. Henderson | Dallas TX, 75206
(214) 828-2288

Specials:
Happy Hour | M-Th | 5-7 p.m. | $2 off appetizers, $2 off classic rolls
Reverse Happy Hour | M-Th | 9-11 p.m. | $3 drafts, hot sake, and signature rolls, $1 sushi

Monday | 1/2 off signature martinis
Tuesday | $1 off drafts
Wednesday | $5 chardonnay and merlot
Sunday | $2 hot sake
FULL MOOD FRIDAYS | $3 drafts & hot sake