We’re two friends who are hunting down Dallas’ best bowls of ramen. Michelle learned to love ramen as a teenager, growing up in Singapore and traveling around Asia with her family. Brian is newer to the scene: He didn’t even try instant ramen in college. We’re not experts, but we are people who really like noodles.
Our quest resumes this week with Kazy’s Gourmet, on the northeast side of Dallas.
The Ramen Shop: Kazy’s Gourmet Shop
The Atmosphere: Truth in advertising: Kazy’s Gourmet is primarily a shop. There’s a kitchen counter and a handful of tables, but they’re surrounded by shelves stocked with tea kettles, rice cookers, wasabi, noodles, tea and colorful dinner plates. Need to get some chopsticks for your home collection? Four pairs, ornately painted and in their own wooden storage box, can be yours for all of $5.
But on this trip, our main interest is the kitchen on the left side of the store. The menu offers everything you want in a Japanese lunch: sushi, nigiri, donburi (rice bowls), noodle bowls, gyoza, seaweed salad, squid salad and bento boxes. Everything is crazy cheap. At a whopping $5.99, ramen is the most expensive item at Kazy’s. A chicken teriyaki rice bowl costs less than one Torchy’s taco. The 13-piece Dallas sushi combo is $9. For the cost of a dinner for two at Tei-An, you can order literally every single thing at Kazy’s. (We got bored and tallied it up.)
The Service: Place your order at the cash register and pick it up when it’s ready. Things can get pretty slow in the kitchen if more than a table or two are waiting for their food. We were ninth and 10th in line and had to wait almost 45 minutes.
What We Ordered: Since it was so damn cheap, we happily ordered a small ocean’s worth of fish for lunch. Our choices included seaweed salad, the Ladybird sushi roll (yellowtail and green onion), the nigiri combo and a bowl of ramen. Not a strand of the refreshing seaweed salad survived our dueling chopstick war over the last bite. The charming Ladybird roll satisfied the green onion lovers in us, and our inner cheapskates too, at $2.95.
Strangely, for a wholesale sushi shop, the sashimi was somewhat disappointing. The ahi, yellowtail and salmon were all thin-cut and bland. The shrimp had more flavor, but was a bit rubbery. Maybe our timing was off: As we ate, workers unloaded pallets of fresh salmon for the kitchen.
Kazy’s stepped up its game with the eel, however. It was prepared to perfection and came lightly drizzled in some of the better eel sauce we’ve had in Dallas.
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Michelle also got a 70-cent green tea, which was a tea bag in a Styrofoam cup. If you want tea in a fancy Japanese tea set, you’ll have to buy a teapot at Kazy’s and brew your own at home.
The Ramen: The ramen is a milky color, has a creamy texture, and comes loaded with bean sprouts. There’s thin slices of something — we assume pork — bobbing underneath the surface. It’s sliced super thin, like the beef in pho, and it’s rather chewy. The broth itself is initially rich and a bit earthy, but after getting through half the bowl between the two of us, we’ve had enough. (This might be because we ordered a ton of food.) The noodles follow the same trend as the broth: the kind of “fine” you tell people when something is neither outstanding nor overwhelmingly disappointing.
We’d definitely go back and try the udon and rice bowls, and we'll be re-ordering the sushi rolls and seaweed salad, but the ramen probably won’t be on our table again.
Recommended If: You want good cheap eats and don’t mind risking a wait, or you need to buy some chopsticks for the super cool Japanese dinner party that you promise to invite us to.
Kazy’s Gourmet Shop, 9256 Markville Drive, 972-235-4831. Ramen $5.99, Ladybird roll (4 pcs) $2.95, nigiri combo $10, seaweed salad $2.99, green tea $0.70