The Red Chimney

June 2, 2017

The Red Chimney on Fleet Avenue in Slavic Village (or as it’s called by the residents “Warzawa”) is hard to describe. It is a Slavic Village institution that has been in business since the 1970s. It’s like your typical Americana diner with a Polish influence, and the decor hasn’t been updated since the 1970s. The food is heavily Eastern European and pure comfort, ranging from cheap breakfasts served all day to sandwiches and burgers and entrees like stuffed cabbage, pierogi, kielbasi, wiener schnitzel and city chicken. The food is very affordable. I think the most expensive thing on the menu is twenty-five chicken wings for $16.99, but most dinners are under $10. On weekdays before 11 a.m. you can get two eggs, ham, sausage or bacon, potatoes, and toast for just $3. The service is quick and efficient, and the majority of the customers are all over the board, from a table of police officers, a table of businessmen holding a meeting to a table of young people trying to get rid of their hangovers with a nice greasy breakfast.

I keep coming back for their chicken noodle soup, which is probably one of the best soups I have had in a long time. Chock full of homemade noodles, chunks of fresh carrot and celery, and shredded chicken in a tasty broth, I can’t get enough of it.

On my first visit I ordered the stuffed cabbage dinner. It is served with soup or salad, sauerkraut, your choice of potato and rye bread or dinner rolls. I went with the mashed potato and couldn’t decide on the bread so the waitress brought me one of each. They were both delicious. The rye bread was soft and flavorful, and the dinner roll was yeasty and delicious. So good! I’m not sure if I enjoyed the somewhat blander tomato sauce they used, but I’m sure most people would love it. I prefer dousing my stuffed cabbage with ketchup to give it a kick (I know, I’m a heathen, but I’ve been eating it that way since I grew up eating my grandmother’s stuffed cabbage). Next time I’ll just order ketchup on the side without any shame. The meat and rice filling is tightly packed and flavorful, and the serving was enormous. I brought half of my meal home (one whole cabbage roll and half the mashed potatoes) and thoroughly enjoyed it the next day.

I came back just a few days later for the soup again. This time I decided to order a club sandwich to go with my soup. The meat and fixings in the club sandwich were super fresh. In fact, the tomato kept falling out of the bread, and I ended up wearing a lot of it. I learned to order a side of Thousand Island Dressing with club sandwiches back in my Bakers Square days, and my request was accommodated without any questions. I chose the french fries as my side, but they also throw in a couple onion rings, which were really delicious. The fries themselves were nothing special, but I nibbled on them because they were there. It also came with a small side of coleslaw, which was fresh and creamy and overflowed onto the side plate it was served on. Again, I ended up taking half of my meal home for later.

The place is clean, friendly, and about as old-school as they come. The servers are friendly and efficient, the portions are huge, and the soup overflows the bowl. Every time. And every time I am tempted to drink the last drops directly from the bowl, but decide manners are more important.

It is worth mentioning that they do not accept credit cards. It’s a cash only restaurant, so be prepared. There is plenty of parking along the side and in back as well as across the street, and there is a door off Fleet Avenue as well as off the back parking lot. Slavic Village has gotten a bad reputation, but the people in the neighborhood are working hard to counteract that and it was recently voted the winning host neighborhood for Cleveland Chain Reaction. Cleveland Chain Reaction is a concept backed by LeBron James called “Cleveland Hustles,” with local business owners hustling to get their idea off the ground. Hopefully Slavic Village will once again become an up-and-coming neighborhood with the total economic boost to the neighborhood predicted to exceed $1 million.

Contact info:

The Red Chimney
6501 Fleet Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44105
(216) 441-0053


Sokol of Greater Cleveland – Bohemian National Hall

May 13, 2017

Cleveland is known for its strong ethnic heritage. Polish, Ukrainian, German, Lithuanian, Slovak and Czech all have strong roots here. Cleveland’s churches are usually at the forefront of keeping the heritage alive. For example, St. Josaphat and Pokrony in Parma are known for their pierogi, and St. Josaphat’s Lenten fish fry is one of my favorites.

Located on Broadway Avenue in the heart of Slavic Village, the cornerstone of the Bohemian National Hall was laid in 1896 as a community hall to accommodate the cultural, social, and educational needs of Czech immigrants in their newly adopted country. The hall continues to serve new generations, houses the many activities of Sokol of Greater Cleveland and showcases  the cultural history and traditions of the Czech and Slovak people. Since my great grandparents were from Slovakia I have a special place in my heart for it.

Ethnic dinners are served throughout the year in the lower level dining room of the Bohemian National Hall. “Sokol Sunday Dinners” are served from 1 pm to 2:30 pm on the last Sunday of every month. The dinner is $14 and includes dinner, dessert and coffee/tea. We went for the pork goulash and bread dumplings (knedliky) a few months ago. We had to salt and pepper the goulash. I think they are used to cooking for older parishioners.

I enjoyed the Czech beer a lot. They have a cash bar to the side that serves soda, beer and wine. I got a bottle of Staropramen and a glass of ginger ale since I know I can get thirsty.

Servers came around to serve the food, give us boxes and serve the dessert (on this evening a very nice cherry cobbler). They were friendly and very helpful – and most likely members and volunteers.

They will be serving roasted duck in July and my friend Nancy was extremely excited to hear about it. For reservations, call Olga at 216-447-0264 by the Monday prior to the dinner. Although to be honest they have plenty of space for walk-ins and should be able to accommodate a few folks walking in. I was able to bring a dozen knedlicky home with me to steam later. I popped them right in my freezer since they were already frozen for the most part (I think they made them ahead and steamed them as needed).

I think it’s important to support local groups like this one. The newer generation isn’t interested in this kind of thing, and they are starting to die out. I would have liked to have seen this place filled with more people.

Contact info:

Sokol of Greater Cleveland at the Historic Bohemian National Hall
4939 Broadway Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44127
(216) 883-0675


Joe’s Deli

April 26, 2017

Joe’s Deli is a popular restaurant on the West Side of Cleveland. It is so popular that they built a larger restaurant, and it still has waits. If I lived closer I would be there all the time. As it is, I go when I visit my tax preparer. It seems like no matter when I go I have a wait (and I try to go at non-peak hours to avoid a long wait). They have a large vestibule that is usually packed with people waiting for a table. You go in, get your name on the list with the hostess, and get a flashing beeper-type thing that tells you when your table is ready. In the meantime, you can either sit or stand along the walls or admire the gorgeous cakes in the counter cooler. I have yet to have room to order dessert. Maybe some day, because they look amazing.

You can also glimpse inside their open kitchen, which is spotless, and you can see the kitchen staff working hard. The servers and staff are extremely efficient. The bussers are very polite when removing diners’ dirty plates. My waitresses have been friendly and quickly fill up my ice tea without my having to ask. They masterfully handle large tables and small. The first time I was there I was seated near a loud and obnoxious table of diners, but it has proven to be the exception to the rule. I take my Kindle and enjoy a nice meal in a nice setting.

Joe’s is a Lebanese family-owned restaurant serving up amazing American and Lebanese fare. They are cousins to the Slyman family, so you know it’s going to be good. They also happen to serve the absolute best matzoh ball soup in Cleveland in my opinion. The broth is smooth, the matzoh balls are perfectly cooked, and the soup is chock-full of carrot, celery, onion, chicken and parsley (not typical but still tasty). I order it every single time I go, and then get a bowl to go for later that day. The portions are huge, and I have yet to eat a full sandwich there. I bring it home and eat it later with my bowl of soup.

One of my friends from high school met me in the parking lot to drop something off the other day, and he reminisced about how much his mother used to love their German dumpling soup. I did a little research and discovered that is their soup of the day on Saturdays. According to Yelp the place is packed all day, but it might be worth it to go on a Saturday to try the soup. What I found were rave reviews.

The first time I went I got the Matchmaker – a bowl soup paired with a half portion of any of their house salads. It also came with a muffin. I ordered the Joe’s Chef Salad, which features fresh tossed greens topped with turkey, ham, Monterrey Jack and cheddar cheeses, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs and black olives. The ingredients were extremely fresh and crisp. It was beautifully plated, and I ordered the hot bacon dressing and loved every bite. The muffin that day was a strawberry muffin. It was moist and delicious. I ended up taking half of the muffin home for later. It was a lot of food.

On my second visit I ordered a simple tuna sandwich and a bowl of matzoh ball soup, thinking it would not be as much food. It was, but oh so good. The tuna was fresh, the bread was perfect, and I loved the pickle. Their pickles are firm and have a really nice crunch to them. Of course I still ended up taking half of the sandwich home.

On my third visit I ordered the Chicken Philly sandwich and a cup of matzo ball soup (trying to save room – it didn’t help). I wasn’t as in love with the Chicken Philly as I was with the other things. The bread was a little tough from the broiler, and the filling just seemed kind of bland. The peppers were definitely fresh, but they didn’t have much flavor. Maybe they were off-season. They have an aioli mayo that they serve on the side that jazzed it up a bit, but I don’t think I’d order it again. The French fries are good, but nothing to get truly excited about.

I had a cup of matzoh ball soup and the California Chicken Club on my most recent visit. It was wonderfully prepared with a thin grilled chicken breast, a hunk of fresh avocado, fresh lettuce (almost too much – it seemed like 1/4 of a head of lettuce and I had to remove some) and mayo. They served an herby sauce on the side, which I slathered on the sandwich as well. The juices dripped down my hand. It was an absolutely delicious mess. I nibbled on the fries and took half of the sandwich home for later (leaving most of the fries).

As busy as they are in the restaurant, they also do a booming take-out business. They have two dedicated cash registers just for carry out. The phone is ringing constantly with new orders. This photo is of their Dawali (stuffed grape leaves). I wanted to try them, but knew I couldn’t eat a whole portion and a sandwich. so I got them to go. It was a good decision. The pickled veggies, feta cheese and cucumbers accompanying the grape leaves were super fresh.

They are open Monday through Wednesday from 7 to 9 PM and until 10 PM on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. They are closed on Sunday.

Contact info:

Joe’s Deli
19215 Hilliard Blvd
Rocky River, OH 44116
(440) 333-7890


Algebra Tea House

April 13, 2017

Algebra Tea House is an eclectic tea shop in Little Italy that serves beverages such as tea, coffee, smoothies and shakes, plus Middle Eastern cuisine (the owner was born in Pakistan and his family lived in Syria, Kuwait, Tripoli and Libya – he also lived in Austria for a while). The cafe is also very vegan friendly and has a large assortment of healthy menu options. Owner Ayman Alkayali is an artist and a businessman, and he created all of the eclectic cups in the shop. He also appears to enjoy woodworking and hates straight lines if the door and the shelving units are anything to go by. The front door, tables and shelves were hand-crafted by Ayman, and his paintings cover the walls. He put a lot of work into creating the shop from a bike shop with no gas or electricity. Algebra Tea House opened its doors in August 2001. It was the first non-Italian establishment in the Little Italy neighborhood.

Algebra is opened everyday from 9am – 11pm. They serve breakfast specials on Saturday and Sunday alongside the regular menu from 9 am – 1 pm. Even though he is Muslim you can smell the bacon in the air on the weekends. The smell of Middle Eastern spices also blends with citrus from the orange peel resting atop a wood burning stove.

Do not come here if you are in a hurry. Most of the time, there is only one employee working and they can only do so much. This is a place to linger and relax. There is even Bedoun seating around a low table. My knee would never cooperate with that, so I was also happy to see higher tables and chairs (there’s even a large couch). He designed Algebra to be a place for people to commune together. There is a selection of games in the back to play with and a book exchange library on the front right wall.

The first time I was here was in 2010 or 2011. I met a group of tea drinkers here and had a wonderful afternoon getting to know a lot of interesting ladies. In fact, I met a lifelong friend that day (Hi, G!).

I was last here on a Saturday, and it took an hour and a half to get the tea and kebab I ordered. I have to admit that was a little frustrating, because it shouldn’t take an hour and a half to make a tea. I probably would have ordered a second or third one to go with my food if they hadn’t waited to serve the tea with my food. The server did offer the table half a House Smoothie (a vegan smoothie with mango, strawberry and banana blended with rosewater), which I grabbed since they had all been served their food at that point. It was very refreshing! I’d definitely order it next time. They had three people behind the counter (one just doing the dishes) and were obviously in the weeds, so I do plan on giving them a third chance during the week some time. You order at the counter, and they (eventually) bring your drinks and food to the table. You pay when you leave.

I was there that Saturday with my tea group, so I was feeling more adventurous than ordering a straight Darjeeling or Orange Pekoe tea. The menu had a very wide selection of black, green, white, and ethnic teas as well as chais and “comfort blends” (basically spiced milks). Where else will you find hot chocolate made with chocolate, steamed milk, and rosewater? They also have a large selection of house roasted coffees. I decided to get the Friday Market Libyan Tea, which features black tea, roasted peanuts, mint and brown sugar. I was intrigued. It was the wildest yet one of the most delicious teas I have ever enjoyed. The mint was floating on the surface along with a good amount of roasted peanuts. The brown sugar meant I didn’t need to add any sugar. It was perfect just as it is. I also had the Moroccan Mint because my friend ordered me the wrong tea, but it was also lovely with fresh mint leaves. I had wanted to try their special tea that day, a green tea with mint cinnamon, but she must have misunderstood me when I asked.

I also ordered the Iraqi kebab, which is made of ground beef and lamb mixed with garlic, parsley, sumac and Palestinian spices and wrapped with fresh vegetables, hummus, harissa and a yogurt mint sauce in a homemade pita. I really enjoyed it. It was obviously fresh and was very flavorful. It definitely hit the spot.

Other choices include numerous salads and a falafal sandwich, shawarma sandwich, hummus sandwich, “Zoho gyro,” Cajun chicken sandwich, smoked turkey sandwich with zattar, and bagel sandwich. There are also various “plates” featuring fool madams, falafal, hummus, eggplant, labneh, sardines, or Syrian tomatoes as well as several “all day breakfast choices” that include shakshuka (Shak-shooka), a Saudi breakfast of carmelized onions, sauteed tomatoes and scrambled eggs with a side of warm pita. I’m familiar with the Israeli version. Another fellow diner had the spinach pie plate and loved it. The prices are affordable to appeal to the college crowd.

One of the people in the group who was a regular ordered the red lentil soup, and it came out piping hot in one of the coolest bowls I have ever seen. It’s round shape was intriguing, and the metal probably kept it hot for longer than a regular bowl would. The soup had fresh spinach floating on top and looked delicious. He enjoyed the soup very much.

Algebra is known for its hummus. The owner soaks large amounts of chickpeas overnight and makes big batches in an industrial-sized food processor. I know because I watched him grab the food processor from the shelf next to where I was sitting and pile in chick peas until they were almost overflowing out of the container. The hummus is smooth and creamy, drizzled with olive oil and dollops of what looks like a red pepper tapenade (but it could also be harissa), garnished with cucumber and tomato, and sprinkled with a mixture of spices on top.

The desserts also sound amazing. The Banana Algebra, featuring sauteéd fruit with rosewater, cardamom, nutmeg and cinnamon, served over ice cream, sounds amazing. As does the Chocolate Chip Deli, homemade chocolate chip cookies topped with wildberry ice cream, bananas, whipped cream, cherry and nutmeg. The desserts all feature some kind of fruit and/or ice cream and sound healthy in addition to delicious.

In short, this place features lots of Middle Eastern treats that appear to be all homemade. They have a wide choice of beverages and lots of vegan-friendly items. You can also buy loose leaf tea to make at home as well as a variety of grocery items.

Contact info:

Algebra Tea House
2136 Murray Hill Road
Cleveland, OH 44106


Fish Fry Friday #3 – El Carnicero

March 19, 2017

In keeping with my decision to eat at three church fish fries and three restaurant fish fries, this week a restaurant fish fry was on the docket. My original decision was to go to Sachsenheim Hall for their fish fry, but St. Patrick’s Day threw a wrench in my plans. They were not serving fish on Friday, but instead were doing an Irish buffet. One thing most people don’t know about me is that I hate corned beef. I can stomach it in a Reuben, but I also only eat a Reuben once every five years or so. Corned beef and boiled cabbage, carrots and potatoes? Gag me with a pitchfork. An Irish buffet was not going to be my focus.

I had wanted to try the fish fry at El Carnicero from the moment one of the members of All Things Food in Cleveland posted a photo ad for it in the group. It just looked amazing. I have tried three times to get to El Carnicero, but something has always come up to thwart my plans to organize something for my dining out group. The first time it was closed for a staff holiday party, the second time I was sick and the group went without me, and I think I was out of town for the third time my friends went. When Sachsenheim fell through I focused on El Carnicero, which is also on the west side. Apparently El Carcinero sometimes closes on St. Patrick’s Day, but luckily my friend Nancy ran into Chef/Owner Eric Williams, who assured her they would be open and would be serving their fish fry.

You wouldn’t think a Mexican restaurant would be a good choice, but it really was! They serve Dos Equis beer battered lake perch and also spice things up with a chipotle tartar sauce and chimichurri-drizzled French fries. I was very excited about the prospect. I wasn’t going to let a little snow and ice deter me this time.

After wending my way past a car accident on I-90 that closed three lanes of traffic, I showed up about ten minutes after our agreed upon meeting time. I was thrilled to see that the restaurant has a very large parking lot behind it. I got one of the last spots in the lot and trudged through the sloppy, wintry mess. Even though El Carnicero does not take reservations Chef Eric had been more than happy to reserve a table of four for us. It turns out it wasn’t necessary, since there were quite a few tables available. Thanks, St. Patrick’s Day! It isn’t usually the case in this very popular eatery. The bar had some revelers, but it was a really good vibe overall. Our waitress was wearing green lipstick, which I thought was awesome. My friends already had their drinks, since they passed the accident right after it happened, while traffic was practically at a standstill when I got there. I was going to order a blood orange margarita until Edsel’s regular margarita arrived with its bright green color in honor of the holiday. To make things even more difficult Edsel highly recommended the hibiscus flower margarita. What was a girl to do? Why, order the margarita sampler and enjoy all three! They were all delicious, but I loved the blood orange the best, with the hibiscus coming a very close second. El Carnicero definitely serves some delicious margaritas! Slainte!

We ordered a few appetizers to share. I chose the smoked gouda queso dip,IMG_20170317_191533 Edsel ordered the sikil pak (toasted and ground pepita mixed with lime and chile jalapeño – as he explained “kind of like a hummus but made with pepita”), and Nancy (and the rest of us) wanted guacamole. It was a tough decision as to which guac to order, but we went with the tradicional. I would like to go back and order a sampler to try a few of the others as well. Next time. I loved all three appetizers, but I was really pleased with the queso dip. I kept dripping it on myself even though I tried everything to ensure I didn’t, but that’s just how I roll. It’s a gift.

All four of us ordered the fish fry. We can go back and order tamales, taquitos, etc. next time. We were all really glad we ordered the fish. The beer batter casing was perfectly cooked, not too crisp and not too soggy. The fish was light and flaky and almost melted in our mouths. It was the best piece of fish I’ve had in a while. I also loved the chimichurri French fries. The fries were shoestring, which get cold easily. Nancy thought hers were too cold and had a fresh batch delivered from the kitchen. I didn’t come for the fries, so I wasn’t as concerned. I really enjoyed the chimichurri sauce, which was fresh and light. I was craving it again once I left. Luckily I had to ask for a box and had the other half as leftovers.

Edsel ordered the brussel sprouts as a side, which I found to be very lemony but nicely roasted. Being a sucker for creamed corn I ordered the esquite (achiote creamed corn) and polished it off. It had a nice zing to it and had some heft to it that I think might have been potatoes.

After a delicious meal from start to finish, we left El Carnicero very happy and ventured our way back to the highway to head home in the snow. It was a nice way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

Contact info:

El Carnicero
16918 Detroit Avenue
Lakewood, OH 44107
(216) 226-3415El Carnicero


Kintaro Sushi & Hot Pot

February 15, 2017
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Photo by Yelp user Sushi L

Kintaro is a full-service, all-you-can-eat sushi and hot pot restaurant just off I-480 off Ridge Road. Everything is made to order. The place has been recently renovated and has two separate dining areas as well as a sushi bar. Both sides are bright and cheerful, with some stone dividers, neon lighting and lots of bamboo and wood decor. Upon entering, you can choose between sushi and hot pot, although you can opt out of the all-you-can-eat deal to order menu items individually or order the all-you-can-eat sushi on the hot pot side if you are dining with friends who want hot pot.

imag0789Hot pot is a fun way to eat with friends. The tables have inset hot pot burners, and you choose your menu items, ranging from the broth, vegetables and fish and meat. The fish and meat choices range from pork, fatty beef, chicken, crab, clams, several fish choices, lunch meat and dumplings as well as more adventurous items like beef tripe, pork stomach, quail egg and cuttlefish balls. They also offer 28 vegetarian ingredients. You also choose your noodle to enjoy with the broth at the end of your meal. Choices include instant ramen noodles, potato vermicelli, udon, rice noodles or some fun noodles like a wide, crystal clear noodle that my friend Nancy ordered and enjoyed. There is also a sauce bar where you can choose from various soy sauces, “Kitaro sauce,” oyster sauce, sesame oil, hot chili sauce, cilantro, scallions, etc. to flavor your broth. You have two hours to eat your hot pot, and they encourage you to be discerning in your choices by threatening to charge by the pound for waste.

The real deal is at lunch. The all-you-can-eat sushi and hot pot will run you about $25-26 at dinner (and you can upgrade some hot pot items for a total of $32), but it is only $11 for hot pot and $15 for sushi at lunch photogrid_1481655342555(11 to 2:30 Monday through Saturday). The lunch sushi and hot pot choices aren’t as varied as at dinner, but there are still plenty to choose from.

The first time I went I chose the all-you-can-eat sushi during lunch. You are given a menu and check off on the menu what you want. For $15 I enjoyed a miso soup, salad, several pieces of nigiri, tempura, an eel hand roll, and a Jeep specialty roll. As you can see from the left, it was a lot of food (and all-you-can-eat is usually a joke for me because I get full quickly on a good day – I’m their ideal customer). Apart from the tempura I enjoyed it. The tempura was very bland in my opinion. Yes, I know you need to dip it in a sauce, but it should have at least some underlying flavor. The sushi was fresh, and the server was very personable. I ordered it in several stages, and barely finished the specialty roll (my last stage). If you want something more filling like hibachi or udon noodle or a rice bowl, you may want to just order a small appetizer, your entree and then see how you feel. I was stuffed from my lunch choices, but I was very happy with what I ordered. For me I need the miso imag0786-1soup and salad for a sushi meal. Others might choose to skip it. My friend who came to join us for hot pot during dinner ordered just sashimi and as few rolls with rice as she could to get the most bang for her buck. I thought that was a little crazy, because with sushi the rice is just as important as the fish in my opinion. But to each their own. And that is the beauty of this place – each person can order just what you want or you can choose to share.

Our hot pot dinner adventure was a lot of fun. Since I was sick, my friends suggested I get my own pot. They then shared two broths. We all ordered the Chicken Broth, and they also ordered the Sha Cha broth, which was delicious (I took a sip from a fresh spoon). I’m definitely getting that next time. If you like spicy, they also have a Sichuan Spicy broth. I over-ordered the raw items, but luckily I only left vegetables and a little bit of fatty beef, so my server didn’t charge me the waste fee. But I would have been completely okay if he had though since it was my mistake thinking they would have small portions for one person. I also over-ordered thinking the broth would just be broth and would need some add-in flavor, but they added some things for flavor right out of the gate. I ordered the fatty beef, dumplings, cilantro fish balls, frozen crab, several kinds of mushrooms, broccoli, cilantro, Chinese cabbage, and bean sprouts. I somehow got turnip on my plate instead of the black mushrooms (47 vs. 57 so write clearly on your paper).

Photo by Nancy Heller

Photo by Nancy Heller

I would definitely skip the frozen crab. Since it was previously frozen it was very difficult to get the meat out of the shell. Go fresh or skip it. The fish balls were really good as well. My friend Nancy ordered the Fuchow fish balls and liked them better than my cilantro fish balls, which I enjoyed (I’m a big fan of cilantro). We tried choices off of each others’ trays, which was nice and added to the variety. I was not a fan of the Chinese sausage, for example. It had a cloyingly sweet taste, but she and her husband enjoyed them. I loved the dumplings the most. I dipped them in sauce after cooking them in the broth and, while they were filling, they had a really enjoyable flavor.

Even though it is all-you-can-eat, the quality at Kintaro was pretty good. It’s not Pacific East, Ginko or Ushabu, but you pay for that quality there. Nancy is a tough customer (having been to China), and she was impressed. I will definitely be going back at lunch, now that I know what to expect. I can see this going on my regular lunch rotation since it is such a deal. And if you are looking for a fun meal with friends you should definitely give this a shot. I think you’ll enjoy yourselves as much as we did.

Contact info:

Kintaro Sushi & Hot Pot
7325 Northcliff Avenue
Brooklyn, OH 44144
(216) 459-8862


Otani Noodle

February 1, 2017

imag6374Cleveland has desperately needed a good ramen place. Otani Noodle fits the bill. It isn’t amazing ramen like Slurping Turtle or some of the ramen places in New York, but it certainly fulfills the craving for a well-crafted bowl. Don’t come here with high expectations, and you will probably walk out very pleased.

Located on Euclid Avenue next to the CIA building, Otani is a small space with some tasty ramen. It is decorated in red and black with a colorful mural on one wall with four tables on the left side and the counter and kitchen on the right. You go up to the counter to order, find a seat and then they bring it out to you. imag6372Service is fairly quick. I think I waited about 5-10 minutes for my ramen. The seating (fairly high plastic stools) does not encourage you to linger. I found the higher seat to be fairly uncomfortable. Luckily I live close enough that I could take it to go if I wanted to enjoy it in the comfort of a more comfortable chair.

My first visit was in the summer right after it opened. I live up the hill in Cleveland Heights, so I am in the Uptown area a lot. I parked in the parking garage behind Crop Kitchen and hobbled my way to Otani Noodle to soothe my craving. The place was not imag6367that busy, but I hear word is spreading and people are flocking there. I’m glad to hear this, because we need it in the area. The staff was welcoming and helpful and brought out my steaming bowl for me. I sat in front of the open doors and the fan and enjoyed every warm bite.

For my first visit I tried the Torikatsu ramen, which is fried chicken cutlet in a tonkatsu broth. The broth was rich and flavorful. They get their noodles from Sun Noodle, which according to my knowledgeable friends are the best noodles you can get in the States. They had a nice toothsome bite imag6371and were great. The chicken was perfectly fried, tender and crispy. I loved the added extras like corn, broccoli, scallions, mushrooms, and seaweed, which added some great flavor. I will definitely order half a boiled egg next time as well. It isn’t ramen if it doesn’t have a hard-boiled egg half. I ordered the jasmine-infused honey tea as my beverage, which also hit the spot. It was a nice bottled ice tea.

On another more recent visit I ordered the Char Siu Tonkatsu ramen instead of the imag0823pork belly one, because another Asian noodle restaurant about a block away has turned me off pork belly for life. The char siu roasted pork came in thin slices and had a great flavor.

The only reason I haven’t tried more of their food is because I have been too busy with work to go out for lunch and have been eating at home more to save money. I look forward to trying the tempura shrimp and miso ramens.

The website is fairly useless. I still haven’t figured out if they have a menu listed on it. If you are going to make a website that contains no information (and no menu?!?), do your customers a favor and don’t bother. Thank goodness some kind soul posted photos of the menu on Yelp (page one and page two).

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Contact info:

Otani Noodle
11472 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44106
216-862-1400