Denton’s newest Asian restaurant brings a taste of Tokyo Ramen to town

Published on: Thu, Jun 28, 2018

Stepping inside Hanabi Ramen & Izayaka is like being transported to an entirely different time and place.

The restaurant’s minimalistic décor, the complex and enticing smells drifting from the kitchen, and the large family-style tables in the center of the dining room work together to create a unique dining experience. In fact, letting their patrons enjoy that feeling is one of Hanabi’s foremost goals, according to Denton general manager Peter Lee.

“We brought our head chef, Ito Takao, from Tokyo,” Lee explains. “He used to own a ramen shop in Tokyo, so the food is very authentic, very original. It’s as if you’re in Japan eating ramen. I think that’s what makes a difference here.”

Hanabi opened their first location in Fort Worth in 2014, then added a second Carrollton location in 2016. Since then the small chain has made a name for itself in the DFW foodie scene, garnering write-ups in art and culture magazines across the Metroplex. Lee says the decision to open a location in Denton was an easy one, thanks in large part to Denton’s college students.

“Our Carrollton location had a lot of students from UNT and TWU who kept asking if we were going to open in Denton. We were looking into it, and we found a great spot,” he explains.

It’s no surprise that Hanabi has acquired a college-age following: their offerings are diverse, vegetarian-friendly, and a great deal for the price. Bowls of their signature ramen range anywhere from $9 to $12 and are completely customizable, thanks to a wide array of optional add-ins like fresh vegetables and chashu (soy braised pork belly). Patrons can also enjoy other authentic Japanese dishes like okonomiyaki (a savory pancake with cabbage and seafood) and, if of age, share an absolutely delicious bottle of sake — both cold and hot are available. One visit to this little slice of Tokyo in Texas is enough to get you hooked.

“I think if you come and eat here, you’ll have an extraordinary experience,” Lee says with a smile. “The food tastes great. Who doesn’t like food that tastes great?”

Hanabi Ramen
501 W Hickory • 940.320.1800 •
WHAT TO ORDER: Appetizer: gyoza (dumplings)
Entree: Tokyo Tonkotsu (Creamy pork noodle soup with pork belly, egg, bamboo shoot, green onion, takana), Seafood Ramen (Squid, octopus, Japanese littleneck, shrimp, cabbage, carrot, fresh oyster, bean sprout and black dried mushroom made with tonkotsu broth), Baisen miso Ramen (Miso blend tonkotsu and chicken soup with pork belly, egg, bamboo shoot, Chinese chives, cabbage, carrot, bean sprout and green onion)
Price range: Appetizers $4-$9.50, Entrees: $9.50-$12


Barley & Board
100 W Oak #160 • 940.566.3900 •
WHAT TO ORDER: Appetizer: Cheese board
Entree: Lacy Salad (lettuce/green apple/feta/pecan/dried cherry/apple cider), smoked salmon flatbread (boursin/arugula/shallot/caper/olive oil), B&B Burger (sweet onion/B&B pickle/house sauce/American cheese), Hanger Steak (with matchstick fries), Slow-roasted pork tenderloin (with Mexican street corn, crispy onions, chipotle honey)
Price range: Appetizers $8-$14, Cheeseboards: $20-$28, Entrees: $7-$29


LSA Burger Co.
113 W Hickory • 940.383.1022 •
WHAT TO ORDER: Appetizer: Brisket queso, an order of Garlic parm fries for the table
Entree: The Waylon (burger with house mayo, mustard, LTPO), The Janis (crab cake patty with tomato, arugula, reds, house dressing), The Boz (slow-cooked brisket sandwich with Dr Pepper BBQ, slaw, pickles), the Weekly Burger Feature (for the adventurous – changes every week!)
Price range: Appetizers $3-$7.75, Entrees: $6.50-$13

Date Night


(Photo by Wendy Haun)

3120 Town Center Trail • 940.220.4646 •
WHAT TO ORDER: Appetizer: Organic potstickers (traditionally prepared ginger pork pan-fried dumplings with Sriracha and sesame-ginger soy sauce), Houlihan’s famous ‘shrooms (panko crusted and garlic-herb cream cheese stuffed mushrooms with creamy horseradish sauce)
Entree: Down home pot roast (honest gold mashers, homestyle vegetables, crispy fried onions and red wine mushroom gravy), Grilled shrimp & jalepeno sausage mojo (jalapeño sausage, garlic-citrus marinated roma tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash,red bell pepper and baked potato, all grilled and brushed with housemade Cuban mojo sauce), Stuffed chicken breast (crisp, panko-breaded chicken breast stuffed with garlic-herb cream cheese, served with choice of vegetable and honest gold mashers)
Price range: Appetizers: $9-$11, Entrees: $12-$25


821 N Locust • 940.381.2712 •
WHAT TO ORDER: Appetizers: Bruschetta
Entrees: Spaghetti Bolognese (Spaghetti served with homemade Alfredo and marinara sauce with ground pork and beef), Capellini Vongole (Angel hair pasta served with chopped clams, tomatoes, and capers in a white wine and lemon garlic sauce), Salmon al Granchio (Grilled salmon in a lemon butter sauce, shrimp, tomatoes, and capers with pesto pasta)
Price range: Appetizers: $5-$9 Entrees: $9-$16


Boca 31

(Photo by Shelby Ward, courtesy of Boca 31)

207 S Bell • 940.514.1444 •
WHAT TO ORDER: Entrees: Pork chile empanada, spinach + goat cheese empanada, Barbacoa brisket tacos (with aji amarillo coleslaw and pico de gallo), Mango passion fruit popsicles
Price range: Entrees: $2-$3 each


Spiral Diner
608 E Hickory • 940.514.0101 •
WHAT TO ORDER: Entrees: spicy buffalo chik’n nachos (original recipe cashew-based nacho cheese and topped with spicy buffalo soy chik’n strips, ranch dressing, carrots, jalapenos, tomatoes, green onions, and a dollop of blue cheese dressing), Spiral burger (burger patty of soy protein, cashew-quinoa or portobello)
Price range: Entrees: $6-$14


Roosters Roadhouse
113 Industrial St • 940.382.4227 •
WHAT TO ORDER: Hell Burger featured on Food Network’s Heat Seekers (waiver required), Brisket burger (chipotle mayo, cheddar, BBQ sauce, smokehouse pico), PIT sandwich (sliced brisket, pulled pork, smoked sausage, BBQ sauce, smokehouse pico)
Price range: Appetizers: $5-$7 Entrees: $6-12 each


Loco Cafe

(Photo by @salh71 on Instagram)

603 N Locust St • 940.387.1413 •
WHAT TO ORDER: Migas, breakfast nachos, Magic chicken soup, cinnamon rolls, Loco coffee
Price range: Entrees: $6-$10 each