On my third visit to Domu I was finally granted a seat. On one visit the restaurant, which does not accept reservations, had a wait of an hour and a half. Nope.
On the second visit, middle of the week, there were dozens of open seats, but the hostess said I would have to wait a while because there were only two waiters on that evening and if she were to seat me I might not be greeted right away. So, the logic was, stand here and wait instead of being seated and wait. Nope.
But that proverbially charming third time worked. I was shown an ideal seat at the food bar — there is a bar-bar, too, but they won’t serve ramen there; I would have asked for an explanation of the logic in that but…see above.
Ah, yes, ramen. That is Domu’s raison d’etre, or dearu koto ni kiin shimasu in Japanese. The noodley soups have been enjoying a resurgence in popularity, and Domu does them nicely.
I went whole hog with my ordering here, getting pig and more pig.
I started with an appetizer of Pigs in a Blanket, which had nothing to do with little wieners. Instead it featured chashu, or pork belly, with bao buns for blankets. The doughy steamed buns also held pickled cabbage and cucumbers with a spicy mayonnaise. Quite good.
I chose the Richie Rich ramen, so named not for its expense but for the fat content. It had a pork broth — 18 hours in the making, according to the menu — with pork belly, chewy wood ear mushrooms, a soft-boiled egg, or ajitama, garlic and lots of fresh scallion greens. And, of course, the permanently bent noodles that are familiar to any grad student on a budget.
The broths from the inexpensive ramen packages were never like this. It had a wonderful unctuousness that coated the mouth and complemented the richness of the chashu. I almost wish I hadn’t taken the leftovers home because the next day I saw that the broth had almost completely congealed. Oh well, we don’t go to restaurants to keep our New Year’s resolutions.
To sip, I had a Japanese Old Fashioned, which tasted refreshing at first but left a bit of a cloying aftertaste (probably from the cinnamon demarara).
Once I got past the front desk I found the staff to be amiable and accommodating. They all wear jeans and print t-shirts presumably of their own choosing. Not a standard uniform, but a uniform nonetheless.
Domu occupies the space in the East End Market that was originally Txokos Basque Kitchen.
Because of its newness and the popularity for ramen, Domu is enjoying the kind of business that puts them on a 90-minute wait some nights. That newness will wane. Then they’ll have only the quality of the food and the graciousness of the staff to keep them going.
Domu is at 3201 Corrinne Drive, Orlando. It is open for dinner daily. The website has only a landing page. Most ramens are $13. The phone number is 407-960-1228.