Teiichi Sakurai's long-awaited Ten Ramen is arguably one of the most buzzed about openings of the year thus far. Since opening at Sylvan Thirty last month, the standing room only noodle shop has been a hot topic on all the local blogs, not to mention the subject of Instagrams galore. While the limited menu seems to be winning rave reviews from most patrons, opinions on the quick-service, eat-at-the-counter setup seem to be split — after all, this is Dallas, where people like to linger. While it's too early for any of the critics to weigh in with an official verdict, here's what people are saying about Ten thus far.
The Tonkotsu News: While it's too early for a formal review, Dallas Morning News critic Leslie Brenner blogged her early impressions: "The ramen was wonderful. The noodles were perfect, springy, lively. The toppings were spot-on. And the tonkotsu broth? Outstanding — soulful and flavorful, rich but not hit-you-over-the-head intense."
The Shoyu News: Dallas Observer critic Scott Reitz opted for the lighter shoyu broth option: "The broth was rich and salty with soy sauce. That sliced pork belly is grilled till it's charred, imparting an intense smoky flavor, and the corn still had bite and was sweet."
The Mazemen News: The mazemen (or soupless) ramen seems to be the sleeper hit of the menu. "The pork mazemen should be renamed 'amazemen' — so fantastic," says a Yelper. Leslie Brenner had a taste and declared it "terrific" — "...gently sauced, garnished with morsels of flavorful, tender pork, sliced cucumber and nori, and topped with an onsen egg."
The Standing Room Only News: Not everyone is a fan of the eat-at-the-counter arrangement, including this Yelp reviewer: "This concept mimicks the authenticity of Japan and their habitual Ramen eating. Cool, but I'm 4'11'' and i had to tippy toe while eating my Ramen, lol. This makes for a very uncomfortable experience!" Another Yelper doesn't necessarily think the format makes sense for Dallas: "In Japan, it makes sense since people are usually in a rush to get on the subway so they'll slurp their ramen quickly and leave. In Dallas, this isn't as practical since most people drive and any occasion to eat at Ten is probably not a matter of convenience but rather a time for one to enjoy a good bowl of ramen, which may be hard to do while standing or in a cramped space."
The Authenticity News: Meanwhile, Leslie Brenner appreciates the authenticity of such a setup: "The place really feels like a ramen counter in Tokyo — what a boon for those of us who get hungry around lunchtime in or near the city center." Scott Reitz concurs: "No, this isn't punishment; this is just what Sakurai planned when he designed his ramen devoted restaurant. Ten is meant to mimic the tiny ramen stalls of Japan, which cater to hungry diners looking for a satiating meal that's cheap and quick."
The Specials News: In addition to the limited menu of shoyu, tonkotsu, and mazemen, there are rotating specials; this week it's a lobster and crab ramen, and last week this sauteed pork belly version with bean sprouts was a hit:
The Friendly Staff News: Expect service with a smile, according to a Yelp user: "The guys behind the kitchen are really friendly and sweet also! On a side note I requested for 'extra love' in my ramen, and the guy who handed me my ramen offered me a hug!"
The Pricing News: A Yelp reviewer points out that a bowl can get pricey when you factor in add-ons: "The price was steep because a super basic bowl was around $10-12 already and that is without the poached egg (which is an additional $2.50) I mean.. come on! Who serves ramen without a poached egg??" Another Yelper agrees, deeming the veggie add-ons too expensive: "... they want you to pay $3 for a couple pieces of bok choy in your ramen. Really? Doesn't add much to the ramen, and is overpriced."
The Overall Impressions News: A Yelper sums things up thusly: "Truth be told, it's not for everyone. If you come here expecting wait service and tons of options you won't like it. If you come to get a darn good bowl of ramen, it's worth the experience. Yes, it's tough to get a spot at the counter, but those who have patience will find it pays off."