Eat This

Looking for Great Ramen? You'll Find It in Fort Worth

Situated in Fort Worth’s museum district, Hanabi Ramen has been quietly gaining acclaim since it opened in summer 2014, and the praise is entirely deserved. For Japanese food fiends in Dallas, Hanabi is the perfect excuse for a day trip.

Just down the road from the Kimbell, Amon Carter and Modern art museums, Hanabi is an attraction of its own. The shop might have more varieties of ramen than any other place in Texas. You can choose from tonkotsu (slow-boiled pork bone broth), shoyu (soy-based broth), miso, the occasional special, extra-spicy versions of all three regular soups and a soupless version that’s just a bowl of noodles.

And boy, is this the good stuff. Tonkotsu ramen should be a hearty soup that warms your soul, fills your stomach and purges your memories of instant noodle cups, and Hanabi’s is a winner. The broth is meaty but not overtly salty, with falling-apart tender slices of barbecued pork and an egg deliciously straddling the line between hard- and soft-boiled. Could there be a little extra flavor kick? Yes, but it’s already on the table in the hot chili oil dispenser, which brings the whole soup to the highest level of lip-smacking savoriness.

The miso ramen is a little spicier to start with, a truly hearty winter warmer. But if it’s heat you seek, order one of the spicy bowls, which come with a big kick of ground red pepper. Hanabi’s spicy ramen bowls are bold but not numbing, zesty but not cruel. Gluttons for punishment can, of course, use the chili oil dispensers to make the soup as fiery as they like.
Overall, with perfectly-cooked noodles and pork, a nice array of garnishes and consistent execution, Hanabi supplies some of the best ramen in the Metroplex — certainly some of the best ramen you’re allowed to eat while sitting down (we’re looking at you, Ten). And if you need a snack for the table, takoyaki (a fried pancake ball with a hidden gem of grilled octopus) makes a delicious, flawlessly cooked appetizer.

The red-accented restaurant is a good deal more comfortable than the hurried stand-up ramen stalls of Tokyo, or for that matter Ten Ramen in Sylvan Thirty. But if you miss the rushed feel of slurping down a bowl on your way to work, you’ll love the impatient waitstaff, who eagerly tried to clear our table and send us packing even though there was only one other table occupied in the whole place.

Recommended if: You’re in Fort Worth, or need an excuse for a day trip.

Hanabi Ramen & Izakaya. 3204 Camp Bowie Road, Fort Worth, 817-420-6703
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Brian Reinhart has been the Dallas Observer's food critic since spring 2016. In addition, he writes baseball analysis for the Hardball Times and covers classical music for the Observer and MusicWeb International.
Contact: Brian Reinhart