Sherman's Food Adventures: Afuri Ramen & Dumpling

Afuri Ramen & Dumpling

I've seen the hype.  I've heard the hype.  So what's the deal with Afuri Ramen & Dumpling?  They have opened up a location in Richmond in the old Dazzling Cafe spot and IG was littered with posts.  In actuality, this hasn't been the first time I've heard of Afuri.  I was passing by Portland last year and it was on my list.  I just didn't get around to trying it.  After working off the calories before we consumed them at the Olympic Oval, Jacqueline and I made our way over to the newish Afuri Ramen to see and taste for ourselves.

To ensure we tried all of the good stuff, we went for their signature Yuzu Shoyu Ramen with chashu, frisee and nori.  I am a great supporter in change and innovation, so a lighter and tangier ramen broth was welcomed.  However, I found this to be much too shallow in terms of impact and depth.  Hence, there was a lack of umaminess.   Furthermore, the fruity tang was not something that worked for me in a ramen.  The seared pork chashu was good though where it was smoky and melted-in-my-mouth.  Even better, the egg was perfectly runny and seasoned.  Trying to go for something more typical, we had the Tonkots Shio Ramen next and it featured some black garlic oil as well.  That we got, but the pork flavour was fairly weak.  It was intentional, yet again, it wasn't our cup of tea.  The ramen was far too light and didn't exhibit the usual silkiness as well as depth.

Moving onto another section on the menu, we selected the Karaage Gohan.  The first thing that we noticed was the soggy rice that was texturally off.  Honestly, how do you mess the rice up?  This setup the dish for failure as every bite was wet with poor mouth feel.  As much as the chicken karaage was crispy on the outside and juicy inside, there was just not enough of it.  Hence, we ran out of it pretty quickly and was left with rice and veggies. This dish was a definite miss.  On the other hand, the Soft-Shell Crab Bun was fantastic.  Easily the best thing we had (which wasn't very hard to to do honestly), the crab was large and fried perfectly.  It was crispy and well-seasoned while the inside was fluffy.  Loved the spice and crunch of the veggies it provided lots of textures to compliment the soft mantou.  It held together and the whole thing ate beautifully.

Our last dish was the Buta Gyoza that sported a considerable skirt.  However, that didn't translate to any crispiness.  In fact, the bottom of the gyoza was doughy.  Actually, the whole thing was surprisingly doughy with very little elasticity.  I wonder if they overcooked them and despite the sear underneath, it wasn't able to be rescued?  Not sure, whatever the case, this was meh.  Realistically, the only thing we enjoyed was the bun and seeing the overall cost of the meal, we are not planning on returning when there are so many other good ramen spots in town.

The Good:
- Spacious dining space (rare for a ramen joint)
- Okay service
- Fairly varied menu

The Bad:
- Ramen broths are light by design, but it doesn't mean we have to like them
- Rice was wet
- Gyoza were doughy


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