The Kamehachi group are at it with a new concept in the old Old Town Kamehachi location. After moving down the street to a vamped up and more centrally located spot, Kamehachi Sushi gave way to a newcomer on the scene – Tokyo 21 Asian Pub (1400 N. Wells St.).
Jill and I went on a Thursday when they were featuring $3 dumplings on special. First was the crab and bacon rangoon. Four tiny pouches of yummy, smoky, creamy filling fried just right and served alongside a slightly creamy mango sweet and sour sauce.
The goons were hot out of the fryer and the sauce cooled off the puppies nicely. The bacon was a unique spin that didn’t overpower the crab at all. Jill and I agreed we liked them more than expected.
We put in an order of shrimp spring rolls as well. Wrapped in a light and delicate rice paper were poached shrimp sliced in half, julienne carrots, cucumber, bean sprouts along with fresh basil and some light noodles. The rolls were accompanied by a spicy sweet and sour sauce.
They took on the flavor of the sauce well and the shrimp were fresh and accented more by the addition of basil. A nice twist on the typical spring roll. Lighter, sure, but extremely fresh and ’twas easy to appreciate its simplicity.
The third dumpling was a delicious kimchi mandu housing Korean spiced pork, tofu and kimchi in a traditional potsticker style wrapper. It was piping hot, crispy on the bottom and light and doughy on top.
It was a nice size – easily two full bites – and the filling was coarsely ground which gave it nice texture alongside the kimchi and marinated tofu.
Of course, we had to sample their house ramen. A surprisingly complex tonkotsu (pork) broth was saturated with delicious pork, bamboo shoots and scallions.
The dish was simple but had layers of rich piggie flavor as well as a spot on mouth feel for quality ramen. The right consistency is often what’s missing in those ramen that don’t make the list.
The pork was tender and all the veggies still have nice texture and didn’t lose their flavor from being cooked to long in the liquid.
We originally tried out Tokyo 21 because of their dumpling special but left a fan of their ramen. It’s often in a situation like these that I find a superb dish on a menu when I was there for something completely different. Next time in Old Town swing by T21 for some noddles and dumplings that bring a lot of thunder to the table and won’t put you in the poor house.