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The bar in this city when it comes to ramen has been set very high. We’ve got more quality noodle joints here in New York than pretty much anywhere other than Tokyo. OK, maybe that’s giving ourselves too much credit, but we have a hard time believing that you can find better bowls than Totto Ramen, Momofuku, and Ippudo anywhere other than NYC and Asia. Also, we’ve never been to Japan, so take that statement for what you will. At least we’re confident in our generalizations.
Dassara is a new player in the hot Japanese soup category, but this is definitely not a traditional Japanese ramen establishment. Far from it. Dassara was created by a group of friends with zero experience in the field of noodles, or even restaurants for that matter. They saw a void in Carroll Gardens, and decided to open a hip, cool Brooklyn restaurant that improvised on ramen using their Jewish, Italian, Thai, and Chinese backgrounds. The always progressing menu features a roster of creative noodle bowl ideas including The Deli Ramen (featuring smoked meat from Mile End and matzoh balls), which was what hooked us into coming here in the first place. You’ll also find a selection of small plates which reminded us a lot of some of our favorite dishes at Yunnan Kitchen. Overall the food here is solid, and gets the job done. But Dassara would be well served by crossing their T’s and dotting their I’s a little better. After being told the wait for five would be an hour and a half, we went across the street to grab a drink, only to get a call no more than ten minutes later letting us know our table was ready. A pleasant surprise for sure, but we had just ordered cocktails at Clover Club, and those things aren’t meant to be pounded. Additionally, the service was generally absent. Multiple dishes were forgotten and we had to ask for water refills three times, which is silly. Ramen is salty as sh*t. Water needs to be flowing.
Regardless, Dassara absolutely fills the ramen void in the Carroll Gardens area. They lose a couple of points for sloppiness and lack of attention to detail, but both the food and vibe are fun and we’ll probably be back should we find ourselves nearby and craving some noodles.
Photo Credit: Daniel Krieger
Tebasaki Chicken Wings Garlic
Miniature wings so small my fat fingers could hardly handle them. But for their size, these things pack an insane amount of flavor. The fried chicken wings are marinated both before and after the fry, and then covered in an amazing black pepper seasoning. You’re going to need two orders.
They don’t look like much, but these tiny little yam balls are stuffed with salt cod and pork belly and served with soy mayo. Pretty tasty, but not necessarily something we’d order again.
Steamed Buns Rotating
The bun selection is always changing at Dassara, and we sampled the fried chicken buns, which were good but could have been better. We could have gone for more pickles, which was the garnish, and less actual bun. We ordered the bacon and kimchee buns too, but never actually tasted them because they never made it to our table. Oh well.
Devil on Horseback Spareribs
Fatty, slow roasted pork ribs glistening in a date and bacon glaze. These guys had a really nice flavor to them and were an excellent app to share. Order em up.
The consensus best appetizer behind the wings, these rice cakes are of the soft, slippery variety and are served with Chinese sausage, oil cured chilis, and shiso brown butter. Super tasty.
The Deli Ramen
The Dassara holy grail and the reason why there’s so much buzz on this place. One of the chefs here used his aunt’s chicken soup recipe as the inspiration for this dish. Mini, deliciously flavorful matzoh balls float in the soup with a skimpy portion of Mile End smoked meat, poached egg, bamboo, and rainbow chard. It’s a perfect combination of flavors and is lots of fun to eat. At the end of the day, it’s really just a huge bowl of matzoh ball soup with bigger noodles and smokey meat and we’re OK with that.
It’s a chicken broth, but with soft braised pork belly. The broth is a bit lighter than typical pork based broths and doesn’t have all that much flavor. They thicken things up with a dreamy poached egg and rainbow chard. We suggest adding matzoh balls, which you can do to any ramen dish.
A Korean style bowl, with a twist. The twist being braised oxtail as the meat instead of pork. The broth is pork based though, and had a real nice kick to it thanks to chili paste. If you like it spicy, this is the one for you.
Cooled Sesame Szechuan Noodles
We actually ordered the lone cold noodles dish on the menu as an app to share and that was a solid move. We loved the addition of kimchi pickled veggies and smoked tofu to the Szechuan noodles equation.