Stuff Yer Face: Dashi Noodle Bar
After about a year of serving noodles from under a garage door on Unity Street, followed by a season at the Bellingham Farmer’s Market, Dashi’s owner Josh Silverman (of Nimbus fame) opened the doors to its new permanent digs in January of this year. They have expanded on their previous menus a bit, adding more noodle bowl options, more appetizers and a larger condiment bar. The menu also features daily specials, so be sure to follow them on Facebook for updates.
It is immediately clear upon entering the building that the food isn’t the only thing setting Dashi apart from other eating establishments in Bellingham. The high ceilings and warm colors, tables made of bowling alley lanes, and the “noodle clouds” along the walls and windows, all come together to make eating at Dashi an experience you won’t soon forget.
Be prepared to spend some time looking over the menu posted on the wall behind the counter. Customers choose, in order, the topping (vegetable, tofu and meat selections), noodle style, soup broth (also known as dashi) and additional add-ons. Also available are cold noodle soups, steam buns and a selection of appetizers and salads, in addition to beer, wine and locally made kombucha from Kombucha Town.
Apple started off with a fantastic Dashi caesar salad ($4), made with romaine lettuce, seaweed, crispy wonton noodles, water chestnuts and their version of caesar dressing. The salad is a creative and delicious take on the traditional caesar we all know and love, but without any cheese. Somehow, even sans cheese, Apple loved it!
Kayser started his meal with the pork steam bun and coconut curry ($6). The bun, also stuffed with cabbage and scallions, was almost a meal in itself. He initially thought the steam bun would be a stuffed bun of sorts, but he was pleasantly surprised when it appeared more like a taco. The fluffy bun was folded in half around the pork and greens. He even added a bit of Dashi’s own hot sauce to turn it up a notch, even though the bun had plenty of flavor on its own.
For the main course, Apple ordered the beef broth with ramen noodles, pork topping, along with egg and ginger bacon ($14 with the add-ons). He excitedly perused the condiment bar, adding pickled red onions, pickled jalapenos, water chestnuts and peanuts, while avoiding his nemesis cilantro like the plague. Kayser, spending many years of his youth in Japan, attempted to revisit some of the flavors of his youth. He chose the udon noodles with pork topping in the chicken and pork broth, along the egg added on ($12). Kayser went a separate route at the condiment bar, in that he did not add his to the soup. Instead he served up a dish of every available kimchi, pickled daikon and turnips, and cilantro (much to the distaste of Apple).
Both Apple and Kayser enjoyed their broth, as it provided a good balance of salty and savory. The pork was melt-in-your-mouth tender, and Apple’s ginger bacon was delicious, especially the portion soaking up all the juices. They each may have added a squeeze or three of Sriracha to the broth, only because sriracha truly makes everything better.
Overall, visit Dashi with an open mind and an adventurous spirit. Everyone’s noodle bowls will turn out differently, and that’s why they will keep us coming back again and again, on a mission to craft the perfect bowl of noodles.
Dashi Noodle Bar is open Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m. to midnight, and closed Sunday. They are located at 1311 N. State Street in Bellingham, and offer the options to dine-in or take your food to go. For more information, visit www.dashinoodlebar.com/.