As I said in my last post, I am excited to start 2019 with a series of short posts about must-try, new(ish) restaurants in Cincinnati. Last week I featured my first new restaurant: The Arepa Place. This week I’m going from Colombian food to Japanese food by sharing my love of Zundo Ramen and Donburi in downtown Cincinnati.
My husband started searching for good ramen awhile ago. It’s funny because I used to think ramen was simply a cheap bag of hard noodles and a packet of powder that sprung to life with hot water. I mean, that is ramen, but little did I know about real Japanese ramen. It’s far more than something college kids eat to survive! Real ramen has a deep, rich, meaty broth that brings comfort to the soul with each sip. It’s a perfectly cooked egg floating effortlessly on top. It’s noodles and noodles and noodles . . . welp, I am officially hungry now.
While I do think ramen is the star of Zundo Ramen and Donburi, there are many other superstar dishes. I haven’t had all the starters yet, but I can recommend two very highly:
- Goyza- handmade pan-fried pork dumplings
- Tako Yaki- broiled wheat flour balls with octopus
I really haven’t met anyone who doesn’t like dumplings, and these pork dumplings at Zundo are so delicious. The octopus, though, wins the award for biggest surprise. We ordered this dish because our server recommended it (pretty passionately I might add). The menu description does not do this one justice. Each bite, filled with octopus and Japanese mayo, is rich and creamy and savory. Then add to that the shaved, smoked fish on top. It’s quite a treat. Promise.
Since I already spoke of my love affair with ramen, let me just say that my two favorite ramen dishes at the Zundo are:
- Tonkotsu Ramen- Ramen and thick creamy pork broth with roast pork, soft boiled egg and green onion
- Spicy Miso Ramen- Ramen and spicy creamy soybean paste pork broth with roast pork, soft boiled egg and green onion
Once I learned that the chef behind Mei Japanese restaurant in Montgomery was the chef for Zundo, I knew it would be good because until Zundo opened, Mei was our favorite Japanese restaurant. Zundo demonstrates the same refinery in a more modern setting. Really, you should try both restaurants because the noodle dishes are stunning. Don’t be afraid to pick up that bowl and slurp away until every single drop is finished. It’s perfectly appropriate behavior. And you will want to! Trust me.
Red Bean Ice Cream
We surprised ourselves last time we ate at Zundo by not ordering ramen (which is always our go-to) and trying the Katsu Curry Rice, one of the donburi offerings. This rice bowl dish was another recommendation from our server. The curry is heavenly; the smell alone was intoxicating and the pork cutlets were crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. This is comfort food, friends. We finished with the Red Bean Ice Cream- I’m not certain exactly what red beans are, but I can tell you this light dessert tastes a little bit like strawberries and a little bit like cotton candy. A perfect finish to our meal.
While Zundo is a new Cincinnati restaurant, the flavors are rich, bold, and steeped in history. Be sure to check it out, and be ready for Part 3 of my new series soon!
GO THERE (Zundo Ramen and Donburi)! TRY THAT (Tako Yaki, Tonkotsu Ramen)!