Dashi opened downtown about three weeks ago. It is the much-anticipated marriage of talent between the folks at The Cookery and Toast, formed after a successful three-day pop-up venture. After Juju and Basan, it is the third Asian restaurant to arrive in the Bull City in as many months.

The unassuming pair of doors out front will take diners to one of two very different destinations. I arrived before lunch and the staff invited me up to the bar to scope it out.

The bar is nice and spacious. A hardwood counter and bar front run before newly-upholstered bar stools. The coat hooks below are a nice consideration, particularly in the winter months.

The top floor features exposed brick (so Durham right now) and ceiling beams that blend in with the downtown status quo. The construction-style caged lighting overhead was a first for me, and I’m always in support of new light fixtures. The entire upstairs is called the “Izakaya,” and is open from 5PM until 2AM, serving small plates, snacks, and drinks throughout the evening. Their plan is to rotate the menu seasonally.
While I was upstairs, I was told that the “Ramen Shop” below would have a line outside for lunch. I glanced at my watch-11:20, with doors opening in ten minutes. A peek outside the window didn’t reveal a soul. I was incredulous of their claim as I walked downstairs.

To my amazement, a horde of eager diners appeared in minutes. I was impressed by the synchrony- what type of “Truman Show” orchestration of traffic was this? As if on cue, an army of people assembled to wait on queue. By the way, reservations are not accepted. Luckily I still landed a spot at the counter.

The lower floor is small, with a floor plan resembling restaurants seen in places like New York

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