First Look: Cupertino’s new Afuri Ramen + Dumpling

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Just when it seems like the internet will explode with ramen-centric discussion threads, Cupertino’s new Afuri Ramen + Dumpling is stoking the fire. It’s the first California location for the Tokyo hot spot known for its yuzu-kissed ramen, and the buzz — and the long line snaking out the door — are palpable. Here’s what we found on our first visit:

THE VIBE: Everything bustles inside this bright, loud, urban space. A small, six-seat counter overlooking the open kitchen offers a bit more ambiance. Otherwise, every space here is functional, from the closet-sized bar right at the entrance to the banks of tables, all communal.

THE FOOD: Obviously, ramen ($13-$15) is the focus here and the signature dish is the Yuzu Shio ($13), made with a light, chicken-based broth, built up with dried fish, seaweed and vegetables, and splashed with yuzu citrus. There are seven other types, too, including a vegan, miso-based bowl and a couple of tsukemen ($14) styles, i.e., the noodles are served cold and meant to be dipped in a bowl of broth. All the ramen offer add-on options for a dollar or two more, including fried garlic, egg, bamboo shoots and shiitake mushrooms. Note: There are gluten-free noodles available, too.

Afuri also serves “Afuri Classics” — look for the mountain logo on the menu — including Buta Gyoza ($10 for eight), fried pork dumplings that look like blossoms, and Karaage ($7), with egg salad and fried shishito peppers accompanying the fried chicken thighs.

DON’T MISS: Definitely order ramen — any of them. Also delicious — and pleasantly surprising in such a pork and chicken-leaning cuisine — the vegan Hazelnut Tantanmen ($15) with miso cashew crumbles. The creamy, decadent bowl is just outstanding.

THE DRINKS: Some Afuri locations offer a wide variety of cocktails and Japanese whiskey flights, but we saw only Sapporo and Suntory beer ($5-$8), sakes by the glass ($8-$14) and bottle ($30 and up) and three low-proof cocktails ($10) made with shochu and sake. Be sure to check out the yuzu limeade.

GOOD TO KNOW: You order from a touch-screen kiosk — there are two at the main entrance and numerous staff members around to assist if needed and they’ll seat you, too. Don’t forget to grab one of the wooden table number blocks that will help your server find you. Once you’re seated, the food comes out quite quickly. And if you forget to order something — or really want a second helping of gyoza — don’t worry. Just head over to the third, inner kiosk near the kitchen to order and pay without getting in the main line.

PERFECT FOR: A quick meal before or after a movie or event — or when you want something delicious but aren’t really looking for ambiance.

DETAILS: Open from 5 to 9 p.m. weekdays (until 9:30 p.m. Fridays), 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturdays and 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays at 20803 Stevens Creek Blvd. #110, Cupertino;

Source: mercurynews
First Look: Cupertino’s new Afuri Ramen + Dumpling