Good to Go: Wabi House Excels Outside Ramen

Karaage travels well from Wabi House on Lower Greenville to Tietze Park on Skillman Street.
Karaage travels well from Wabi House on Lower Greenville to Tietze Park on Skillman Street. Taylor Adams
Good to Go is a column in which our food writers explore Dallas' restaurant scene through takeout orders, delivery boxes and reheated leftovers.

It’s not normal for a business that prides itself on one product to actually be better at another — to the point that you wonder whether they’ve seen themselves correctly. But it happens.

New York City steakhouses come to mind: wonderful places to eat fish and conduct important meetings, but do not eat steak there. Locally, The Grape (RIP) late in its life developed a burger that was far more famous and critically acclaimed than any of its sophisticated menu items.

I initially dismissed Wabi House shortly after it opened because its ramen didn’t interest me that much. There was a lot of new ramen in Dallas at the time that just struck me as better, even if Wabi was just fine.

It pays to look at the whole menu before making up your mind. Wabi House is an underrated Japanese/pan-Asian joint at a reasonable price if you just skip the ramen.

click to enlarge Takoyaki, little fried octopus balls - TAYLOR ADAMS
Takoyaki, little fried octopus balls
Taylor Adams
The karaage is delightful fried chicken with a crispy batter denser than the typical American recipe. The thing that makes it memorable is the spicy aioli that is just hot enough to indicate a lack of concern for universal appeal. And this not-skimpy dish is all of five dollars.

The tempura veggies also are heavier on spice than everyone wants with the proportion of shishito peppers in play, and they were perfectly cooked. Returning to a theme: six bucks for a pile of veggies.

Chicken meatballs are exactly what they sound like, but they sound delicious. They’re relatively a little splurgy at seven dollars, but strangely the bargain play is the excellent takoyaki: octopus balls (Beavis laugh) at four (!) dollars.

I should add that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the ramen. The tonkotsu, shoyu and spicy miso broths are perfectly acceptable, and the menu offers plentiful additional ingredients to meet any taste. I just find the noodles a bit instant compared to the city’s other ramen choices. It’s no Ten, but at $8 for the lunch portion, it’s a good value.

click to enlarge Picking up is easy from the outside-facing bar. - TAYLOR ADAMS
Picking up is easy from the outside-facing bar.
Taylor Adams
In COVID Times, I have also appreciated that the staff takes safety seriously, and the kitchen is fast enough to make takeout easy. Now that temperatures are falling along with the county’s COVID alert level, Wabi’s outdoor seating looks awfully appealing.

I have not ordered a lot of to-go drinks since March, but working from memory, I’d rate Wabi’s bar somewhere between “rockin’” and “killer.” If we ever return to the shoulder-to-shoulder-with-total-strangers alert level, this is a good place to get a drink.

Go to the ramen place and get more than ramen.

Wabi House, 1802 Greenville Ave., No. 100 (Lower Greenville). 469-779-6474. Open 11 a.m. to 2:40 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 11 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.
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