Sunday, November 4, 2018


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In general, David has been more interested in anime than I have. I mean, I did realize pretty quickly that children stare at me constantly because my hair style reminds them of a Yu-Gi-Oh! character, and I may own the Pokémon Soundtrack to the first movie, but in general I’ve only watched casually.

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In the past two years or so, that’s changed a bit. Last year for Halloween we dressed up as Tatsumaki and Genos from One Punch Man. We’ve also started watching My Hero Academia and most notably, Food Wars.

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What does this have to do with Zundo and ramen? Well, the main character in Food Wars, Soma Yukihira, dreams of being a professional chef, and is sent to a very fancy-pants cooking school by his father after working in his diner for most of his life, where he makes donburi among other things considered to be more of a working man’s dish more than elevated art. 

No spoilers, but I will tell you that it’s an underdog-takes-on-the-institution type of story. If you like food, you’ll probably find it amusing, especially when the dishes are apparently so good they blow people’s clothes off and send them on a hallucinogenic journey through various ingredients. The ridiculous sequences when dishes are tasted are worth it alone.

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So imagine our excitement when we learned that Zundo, specializing in both ramen AND donburi, was opening up. While we’ve eaten there several times and remained fully clothed throughout the process, we’ve been pleased with just about everything we’ve tried.

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First up, the ramen. There’s several different types of ramen on the menu, from miso, to creamy tonkotsu to vegetable and spicy miso. Ramen broth can be labor of love, requiring a lot of time to do well to produce a rich, multifaceted stock, and the texture of the noodles—nice and bouncy—is excellent. We’ve got some good ramen in the city, but this is among the greats. If you're feeling indulgent, the tonkostu is the way to go; miso ramen is a little more complex but doesn't beat the silky simplicity of the straight tonkotsu stock.

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I recommend getting an extra egg for a dollar upcharge in whatever ramen you choose. The spicy miso isn’t really that spicy, and don’t be scared of the pickled bamboo shoots; they provide a nice crunch and change of texture.

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Keep ramen, ramen, ramen

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Giant shrimp dumplings

Appetizer-wise, we’ve gotten the kaki furai (panko-fried oysters) and the takoyaki (griddled batter balls with octopus centers), as well as the tatsuta age (fried chicken) which was amazingly juicy and crispy, the gyoza, the soft shell crab, the chashu (pork belly bun) and the giant steamed shrimp dumplings.

They are all a bit on the smaller side (I wouldn't personally call the shrimp or the dumplings "giant") so if you are going with a group, we recommend getting a few to share. If you have someone with you who's a little unsure of what to get, the tatsuta age is probably your best bet.  Everyone loves fried chicken.

Tatsuta age

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Kaki fry

Soft shell crab

In our opinion, Kaze still has Zundo beat on pork belly buns for a few reasons. The sauce with the buns itself needs a little work, and for some reason, the Zundo cut is a little thinner and chewier. Fear not though, after impressing them with a sample of our hot pepper jams, they invited us to work with them to develop a sauce that is going to knock (at least) your socks off, Food Wars style.

As for the donburi, we’ve tried the katsudon (fried pork cutlet), katsukarē (same as previous except with Japanese curry-style gravy), the unadon (eel), and the loco moco don (burger).

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Let me see that don, da don don don

The curry for the katsudon is rich, flavorful and very comforting. Stewed potatoes and carrots also add some heft to the dish. If you opt for udon instead of rice, the springy but tender noodles have a wonderful texture as well. The loco moco don may sound a little unusual, but just think of it as a Japanese version of meatloaf and mashed potatoes.  The sauce is a little ketchupy, but that adds to the meatloaf-like charm.

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Curry udon

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Zundo is simple food, done extremely well. As you can tell from all the food in this post (and the items mentioned we didn't tote the camera with us for), we’ve been at least five times now and will be back very soon as the cold Cincinnati winter sets in. We recommend you do the same.


Zundo Ramen & Donburi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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