The wait is over. At long last, a dedicated noodle house will arrive inside the loop. After several weeks of hosting invite-only previews, mock services and a brief public sneak last Friday, Samurai Noodle is ready to swing open the doors.
Housed in the Durham Shopping Center off Interstate 10, the Seattle-based ramen mini-chain — three outposts are in Washington state, one in Indonesia and its fifth location now in Houston — will open later this week, dishing out piping hot bowls of noodles and flavorful broths. In a small, competitive arena for the Japanese dish, standing out is no easy feat, yet the city's latest ramen destination is prepared to go toe-to-toe with Tiger Den, Soma Sushi and Jinya Ramen Bar.
Thomas Tang, Samurai Texas' regional manager, reveals the noodle shop will serve an expansive menu of 26 various ramens, more than any place in Houston currently. Overtime, each will slowly roll out as the restaurant hits its stride after a few month, including happy hour.
For now, the rich pork-based broth tonkotsu is one of the few selections on the menu and for good reason. The noodle house believes every ramen restaurant should be judged on it. Whether Houston's die-hard ramen enthusiasts will agree remains to be seen.
As opening day nears, here's a quick rundown of what else to expect when Samurai Noodles opens Friday, March 6:
1.) At its core, Samurai Noodle is a Japanese-style noodle house. No frills decor and small tables for seating two. This is not a place for lingering, the heart of the concept is a fast, casual, in-and-out type of place to get your slurp on.
2.) The focus is squarely on noodles, which are made in-house by machine. Diners can view the process through a glass-encased room near the kitchen. The noodle house produces three types of noodles: konnayaku, thin wheat and thick egg noodle. According to Tang, Samurai's philosophy is noodles first.
3.) Want to tackle making ramen on your own? Fresh housemade noodles are available to-go. Instructions are included with each purchase.
4.) While noodles are of the utmost importance, broth, ingredients and presentation are too. It's a three-day long cooking process for broths, resulting in a rich and creamy finish. If you want more fat, Samurai will oblige. The main broths will include one that's pork-based and chicken-based.
5.) Samurai has a variety of shoyu and dipping-ramen dishes. A sample of the items offered includes the chicken broth-based tampopo (thick egg noodles, slices of pork, green onions, bamboo shoots, half an egg, fish cake, and roasted seaweed) and tetsu max dipping noodle (thick egg noodles, shredded pork, bamboo shoots, roasted seaweed, and a fish cake).
6.) Dietary offerings are also available. Samurai has vegetarian, vegan and gluten free dishes with rice and a vegetable and tomato broth. Vegan and gluten free noodles will also be available. All options will roll out in the coming months.