Spotlight: Scott Joseph Reviews Domu Chibi Ramen
Domu, the popular East End Market ramenerie, has opened a new concept, Domu Chibi Ramen, in Waterford Lakes. It’s meant to be a quick-serve operation, but they’ve managed to make it quicker serve in at least one aspect.
Instead of giving an order to someone at the counter, customers are prompted to use electronic tablets in front of it to place and pay for an order. Heck, you might even want to leave yourself a tip as you pay, because unlike other quick-serve restaurants, you must go back up to the pick-up counter to fetch your own food. I’m guessing if they could, they’d find a way for a non-human to call the names.
Indeed, the staff behind the counter, just a few feet away from the ordering kiosk, avoid looking at or otherwise acknowledging the arrival of new customers. This seems to be one carryover from the Audubon Park Domu, which, though full service, also has a staff that doesn’t seem to feel the need to be accommodating to its guests.
Speaking of carryovers, Domu Chibi’s menu is smaller than the original’s — Chibi is Japanese for little, after all — but the offerings are varied enough to suit a variety of tastes. And the quality is good, too.
On my visit I punched in an order for the Curry Ramen, which had a luscious chicken broth with large hunks of thigh meat that had been marinated in miso. It was topped with matchsticks of bamboo shoots, chopped scallions and a bit of Thai basil. There was the usual soft-boiled egg half and, of course, the ramen noodles. It was all delicious.
The soups are served in large cardboard containers that can be topped with a lid if you want to take it with you. Regulars at the mother Domu will tell you that the restaurant famously refuses to honor takeout requests.
The narrow space is spartan. There are hightop tables along one wall and seating also at a counter looking into the kitchen area.
Be sure to chat up the staff if you sit there.