Saturday, September 30, 2023 Sep 30, 2023
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Eat This Now!

I Found Happiness in a Bowl of Kyushu-Style Tonkotsu at Oni Ramen

And so can you.
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In an effort to be more thankful for the everyday occurrences that bring me temporary joy but are often overshadowed by life’s burdens, I’ve been keeping track of modest events that enliven the day-to-day.

This week’s list: mastering the Trikonasana in yoga class without toppling over, finding a new free parking space in Deep Ellum, and diving face first into a bowl of Kyushu-style tonkotsu ramen that made me really, really happy.

While I sure as heck am not telling you where that parking spot is, I will gladly let you in on the joy-inducing bowl of broth.

Oni Ramen opened on Elm Street in Deep Ellum just over two weeks ago. The first outpost, located in Fort Worth, has been spooning out steaming pots of ramen since July 2016. Owner and head chef Jesus Garcia traveled to Japan in 2015 to study the art of noodle making. He also worked at a number of ramen restaurants in Seattle before relocating to Fort Worth to open his own shop. “My goal is to do 100 [restaurants] but I can’t be too greedy,” says Garcia. “I’m starting with two.”

I walked into the Deep Ellum location last Thursday afternoon. It was dreary and drizzly outside—ideal noodle slurping conditions. A small cluster of people were gathered around two computer screens near the entryway. It’s where you order.

When my turn came to press my fingers against the touchscreen, I selected the Kyushu-style tonkotsu: rich pepper pork broth, pork belly, bamboo shoots, wood ear mushrooms, mustard greens, red ginger, green onions, black garlic oil, and an egg. A new screen popped up and inquired how I’d like my egg cooked. I chose soft-boiled. And then another screen appeared, this time asking me to select additional vegetables to add to my bowl that was already overflowing with accoutrements. This was a particularly dangerous screen as my gut inclination was to click on all of the vegetables. I practiced self-control (another small feat from the week that I’ll be adding to the list) and selected leafy greens, dried seaweed, and a lemon wedge.

I grabbed a stool at the bar and waited for my number to be called over the loud speaker. (The bar is technically full service, but the novelty of ordering on a touchscreen charmed me.) My bowl of ramen was beautiful; festooned with emerald leafy greens, thick cuts of pork belly, and the most perfectly supple soft-boiled egg I’d ever seen. I dove in.

Garcia boils pork femur bones all day and then simmers the broth overnight. The result is a rich and savory liquid that I wanted to bathe in. Okay, maybe not literally. Although, I’m not sure I’d be entirely opposed to it either.

I sipped the broth, slurped the noodles (even though Garcia knows how to make his own, he supplies them from Kobayashi Noodle Co. in Japan) all the while eavesdropping on a conversation that two young, handsome guys were having about their worldly travels and how much they love their wives. 

I left feeling full, happy, and thankful.

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