Samurai Noodle is a Seattle based ramen bar mini-chain that serves fresh homemade noodles. They have a ton of options for adding ingredients to the base broths and noodles and for the pork broth you can order extra pork fat to deepen the broth flavor. They also have a couple of vegan ramen options. I thought the basic pork broth ramen was a strong effort, but next time I will probably get some additional pork fat. For my second outing to Samurai Noodle I focused on sampling their dumpling selection.
The Dumplings: There are several dumpling options on the appetizer menu, but unlike the noodles, these are not fresh, homemade dumplings. The appetizer options vary across the locations but at the University District location they serve pork gyoza, vegan gyoza, takoyaki, shrimp shumai and pork shumai.
Takoyaki – I am almost certain the takoyaki were not freshly made in a takoyaki-nabe griddle, I think they were a frozen pre-made version that was dropped in the deep frier. They also lacked the carpet of slivered bonito and didn’t have mayo or brown sauce drizzled on them; both sauces were on the side. The takoyaki were pretty far from traditional and were basically deep fried balls of dough.
Pork Gyoza – while the gyoza were typical Japanese restaurant frozen gyoza, the cooking technique at Samurai Noodle was exemplary. The gyoza were served embedded together in a crispy fried batter crust; they were crunchy delicious. They were very similar to the pot-stickers served at Toronto’s Dumpling House.
Vegan Gyoza – these brightly green colored gyoza seemed to be identical to those served at Moshi Moshi in Northampton MA. They were a frozen dumpling, but they are good.
Pork Shumai – Samurai Noodle serves tasty mini-shumai stuffed with pork, served with Japanese mayo, wasabi mustard and soy sauce on the side.
Dipping Sauce: Each of the dumplings came with a different palette of dipping sauces. The soy based sauce had a little vinegar and sesame oil in it and was pretty standard. The pork shumai had the best combo, by mixing the wasabi mustard and mayo together I was able to make a pretty potent dip.
Location: Samurai Noodle has three locations; the University District, Capital Hill and the International District and this review was for the University District location. The “Ave” in the University District is getting a little sketchy at night, so be careful if you go out for a late dumpling fix.