Dallas Ramen Joint Makes Its Home on Magnolia

Wabi House becomes a welcome addition to Magnolia’s eclectic mix.

Adding to the list of recent Dallas imports, Wabi House’s new Fort Worth location is causing quite the stir — and for good reason. This ramen shop has plenty to slurp about (remember, that is a sign of respect in Japan), so no need to enjoy your ramen in strict silence.

Four years ago, chef Dien Nguyen planted his first Wabi House on the high-traffic Lower Greenville in Dallas, which garnered rave reviews. The Fort Worth shop, near the corner of Eighth Avenue and Magnolia, marks his second collaboration with serial restaurateur Kenzo Tran — they previously opened Piranha Killer Ramen in Arlington.

Located on the second floor of the new shopping and dining complex that includes Super Chix and Potbelly Sandwich Shop, Wabi House’s balcony patio, which includes comfy lounge chairs and a full-service, U-shaped bar, is sure to become prime seating when the nice weather becomes more consistent. The interior offers one large communal table along with many other two-, four- and six-tops scattered throughout.

The menu includes a good mix of safe bets and experimental eats. Izakaya small plates are commonplace now, but yakitori (grilled skewered meats) are still a novelty. You can nibble on lamb chops and chicken hearts or go the safe route with bacon-wrapped enoki mushrooms and bacon-wrapped okra (4 pieces $2). Mostly bacon flavored (of course), the skinny enokis have a great crunch.

I sampled the Seared Hotate ($15) on this trip, and suggest you do the same. These four oversized U10 scallops showed up glazed, golden brown and perfectly tender inside. The pretty presentation was resting in a tangy ponzu bath and dusted with micro greens.

After a few trips, I can say I’ve tried most the varieties of ramen they have to offer. And, they are all perfect specimens. If you have been off ramen since college — and think of it as coming in a packet with dried noodles and pocket of powder — now is a good time to try it again. The noodles are fresh and specially crafted for Wabi, and the broths are a thing of beauty — slow simmered and rich.

Vegetarians can rejoice. The innocuous sounding Veggie ($10) is anything but a bore. The vegan noodles are classic and chewy, and the broth is every bit as tasty as the pork or chicken bases. Topped with enoki and shiitake mushrooms, crisp snap peas, baby bok choy, corn kernels, fresh scallion, bamboo shoots and a mayu oil drizzle, I promise, you won’t miss the meat.

The Dry Garlic ($11) is one I have been wanting to try, yet being self-conscious about the smell of my own breath had me hesitant. A mound of plumper-than-normal ramen noodles are dressed in a delicious garlic-infused dashi butter, and the dish is topped with a chasu pork roll that is tender and fatty, along with a poached egg. It is complemented by scallion, julienned cucumbers and a crisp sheet of nori seaweed. The results are unlike anything I’ve tasted before, but I’ll settle for calling it a unique and delicious treat. Other toppings can be added to customize any bowl, and lunch is a steal at $8 for most ramen.

Desserts consist of a tapioca parfait and an interesting — and must-try — black sesame brulée ($6). Black sesame seeds are currently trending and showing up in all kinds of recipes. Their toasty appeal lends itself to more than just salad dressing. This not-too-sweet brulée custard is creamy and intense. The ramekin is decorated with fresh seasonal berries.

With an interesting collection of Asian-inspired cocktails, a killer patio and the variety of small plates to satisfy any taste, the Wabi  House is an idea spot for spring eats, even if you don’t have a piping hot bowl of ramen on your mind.

Wabi House
1229 Eighth Ave.
For Info: 817.720.3100, wabihouse.com
What We Liked: The menu is a winner from top to bottom. It’s affordable and authentic.
What We Didn’t: The placement of high windows can be a bit blinding depending on the time of day you visit.
Recommendations: The Dry Garlic Ramen is a special treat. While the broth in the rest of the ramen lineup is to die for, the simplicity of this dish makes a real impact.