Dallas ramen is headed west with the expansion of Wabi House, an izakaya-style modern Japanese restaurant on Greenville Avenue, that's opening a second location in Fort Worth.
Wabi will open at 1229 8th Ave., in Fort Worth's Medical District, on a piece of land that was once a doctor's office and is now transitioning to a buzzy dining and entertainment area. They're going on the second floor of a two-story building, next door to the newly opened Fort Worth location of SuperChix.
According to Wabi chef and founder Dien Nguyen, the location will open in late summer.
Wabi House has built an enthusiastic following for its ramen, small plates, cocktails, and customer-friendly late-night hours: It opens at 11 am and closes at 4 am.
At the Dallas location, the menu features about 20 items, with several ramen options, including one that's vegetarian.
Tonkatsu ramen is the signature; Nguyen braises pork for four hours and cooks his broth for a total of 18 hours in order to get a concentrated flavor. The soup is studded with corn, wood-ear mushrooms, marinated egg, black garlic oil, and sliced scallions.
Nguyen, who has worked or partnered with Kenzo Tran on a number of concepts including the Piranha Killer Sushi chain, Sapa House in downtown Dallas, and Asian restaurant Sumo Shack near SMU, has ties to Fort Worth.
"I grew up here and always wanted to do something over here, so when we finally had the chance to get a location we liked, we jumped on it," he says.
While the Fort Worth location will include many of the same dishes served in Dallas, Nguyen has new things planned specifically for Fort Worth.
"One big difference is that I'm going to do yakitori, where you grill meats and vegetables, in the Fort Worth location — that's new," he says. "We'll probably introduce some different ramen and some unique small plates. So it'll be a lot of what Wabi Dallas has, but with additional, special items for Fort Worth."
He and Tran got their feet wet when they spun off Piranha Killer Sushi into Piranha Killer Ramen, which they opened in Arlington in February.
"When we opened Wabi House on Greenville Avenue, there still were not that many ramen shops open around Dallas-Fort Worth," he says.
They chose not to do yakituri at the Dallas Wabi House so as not to compete with Teppo, the longtime Greenville Avenue restaurant nearby which does yakituri already.
"We didn't want to do that, but there still isn't much yakitori in Fort Worth," Nguyen says. "That's how we approach things, to offer something the area doesn't already have, give them a taste of something new."