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Ozoni soupEXPAND
Ozoni soup
Dalila Thomas

Niwa Rings in the New Year with Japanese Tradition

The year 2020 is just days away. The beginning of a new decade is a very big deal, so starting the year off right is being magnified times 10.

One way many cultures make sure they’re kicking things off the best way possible is by eating. From black-eyed peas, to noodles, to cabbage, there are many different foods and dishes associated with good luck.

Niwa Japanese BBQ is giving a taste of their culture with what to eat when the ball drops.

Ozoni soup is traditionally served on New Year’s Day and eaten through Jan. 3. As the first thing consumed at any gathering, it’s believed to bring good luck and good health.

The dish, which has been around since the Muromachi era (1300-1500), was originally served as a snack to go along with alcohol and was eaten first at banquets for samurai warriors. Think of it as a miso soup with extra vegetables and mochi as its main ingredient.

"This dish was one that I couldn’t really appreciate until I was an adult,” owner Jimmy Niwa says. “The broth is very subtle and clean. The vegetables were cut precisely, the mochi was soft and chewy, and I didn’t understand how delicate and warming this dish was. The mochi is a representation of long life (by stretching the mochi when eating). This dish is traditionally eaten on New Year's Day, but as we are celebrating on New Year's Eve with friends, we wanted to offer this dish to our customers."

KaraageEXPAND
Karaage
Dalila Thomas

Aside from the soup, another great starter is the karaage ($8). While it may not be associated with luck, it tastes damn good. Crispy on the outside and moist on the inside, these Japanese-style fried chicken bites are accompanied with yuzu kosho aioli and house pickles.

Coffee jelly puddingEXPAND
Coffee jelly pudding
Niwa Japanese BBQ

After you’ve had your starters and meats, it’s crucial you finish your meal with Niwa’s koohi zeri, or coffee jelly pudding — especially if you want a burst of caffeine. This pudding happens to be a childhood dish Jimmy Niwa grew up with, and he wanted to make a gourmet version with it. The coffee beans used are from Full City Rooster.

Niwa Japanese BBQ, 2939 Main St. (Deep Ellum)

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