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Posted by DID 26 Mar 2015 5 Comments

We know, we know –  you’ve probably already been and formed a strong opinion for or against. It seems Dashi was all that the foodie community talked about for weeks after its opening this past winter. The lines wrapped around the block, the instagram shots flowed freely and suddenly everyone in Durham was hankering for ramen. Dashi seems to inspire strong feelings, either complete and utter devotion or a quick dismissal based on the prices. We’ve managed to check both the upstairs tapas bar and the downstairs ramen shop.

First up, this isn’t your 10 for $2 grocery store ramen and this also isn’t your tiny shop in the village $4 ramen. This is giant bowls of hand pulled noodles, locally-source humane meats served in eight-hour broths. This is a good two meals worth of soul-warming ramen for around $13. There was some early criticism of Dashi charging extra for a soy-marinated egg, but the popular eggs now come standard with most of the ramen dishes.

Coming from the folks behind the Cookery and Toast, the atmosphere is of course cooler than most – exposed wood, comics, intimate without being stuffy. As for the line, you simply put your name on the list downstairs and then head upstairs for an appetizer and cocktail while you wait. When your table’s ready, they send you a text.

Downstairs offers a pretty simple menu featuring a handful of ramen options and that’s it. Upstairs, which is where we’ll be spending most of our time at Dashi, offers a dozen or so really great asian small plates. Currently, you can’t get ramen upstairs or the small plates downstairs, but if you do order upstairs and your downstairs table is ready – they will send the small plates downstairs to your table.

The upstairs menu is updated pretty often and has some exclusive late night options. We’ve tried the oysters, the wings, the peanuts, the pickled veggies, the miso, the hushpuppies and the octopus salad. The wings are truly by the far the best I’ve ever had. I would choose them over a basket of the Nickel’s wings, which, for me, is really saying something. The only downfall of the oysters is that there are only four – just enough to whet your appetite. Their sesame-coated popcorn and boiled peanuts are two other options that stand out as potentially addictive. The hushpuppies studded with octopus are great, but wouldn’t be a regular indulgence for me.

The staff at Dashi is pretty much all familiar faces from your favorite spots around town – Toast, Geer, Fed, Mateo, etc. The service at the upstairs bar can be a bit slow on busy nights, which I’m guessing will improve as the kinks of a new business are worked out. Downstairs we’ve only had excellent service.

If you’re put off by the crowds, I recommend going for a late night nibble and cocktail. The crowds die down after the dinner rush and you can grab a seat at the bar, enjoy a sake and some of that killer popcorn.

415 E Chapel Hill St, Durham, NC 27701
Ramen Shop 11:30AM – 2:30PM, 5:00PM – 10:30PM
Izakaya (bar) 5:00PM – 10:30PM
Late night 10:30PM – 2:00AM


  • Tim said:

    You didn’t say much about the ramen itself. Good? Worth $12-14 a bowl?


  • Div said:

    I wasn’t blown away and thought it was a bit expensive, but it’s definitely worth another try. It looks like they’ve lowered prices by $1-2/ bowl and added an egg to the tonkatsu, which were my two biggest issues, so they’re listening.


  • Take the Bull by the Fork said:

    We reviewed Dashi as well, and sadly weren’t impressed with the ramen. We’re not looking for the “grocery store” variety, but ramen shops all over the US offer comparable items for much less. The interior is nice, though.

    Take the Bull by the Fork: Dashi


  • RW said:

    We were eager to try this place and disappointed, mostly due to the ridiculous pricing. For example, my partner decided he wanted to add avocado to his bowl..and for an extra 3$ he received ONE measly slice of avocado that was the size of a quarter, to me that is just plain insulting.

    Beautiful ambience, with the walls and ceiling dressed in Acadia wood, but we just couldn’t get over the pricing, especially for the minimal amount of food we received.


  • ERDavis82 said:

    Have eaten upstairs twice and downstairs once. The snack/bar food has been tasty for sure but nothing worth a special trip. Personally I got the impression that the ramen/menu makes what they serve out to be too authentic or legit or thoughtful than it actually is, creating a false sense of expectation for people who actually have had good ramen.

    Overall it wasn’t anything horrible but nowhere near what I’ve had in NY, LA and Honolulu


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