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Photo by Madison Simmons.
KingYo Sushi and Ramen House, 2813 Race St, FW. 4-9pm Mon, noon-9pm Tue-Sat.
Pung Mayit and his all-family staff now sell ramen, sushi, and a few other pan-Asian dishes in the space previously occupied by Tributary Cafe on Race St.
Photo by Madison Simmons.

Pung Mayit remembers the first time he had ramen, eight years ago at a restaurant in Dallas. Though noodle soup is no foreign concept to the Burmese native, the broth wowed him. The rich umami flavor that can only come from long hours simmering ingredients on a stove convinced him he had to start selling ramen at his own restaurant.

“It’s good tasting and good for our bodies,” Mayit said.

He and his family opened Itoko Sushi and Ramen in Watauga. When the opportunity came to rent a location on Race Street, they sold Itoko and pursued the buzzy Fort Worth strip.

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KingYo Sushi and Ramen House debuted in February, bringing new life to the bungalow previously occupied by Tributary Cafe. Here, Mayit and his all-family staff sell ramen, sushi, and a few other pan-Asian dishes.

My dining companion and I came with our hearts set on ramen and sushi. Overtaken by hunger and the lure of fried food, we immediately went off course by ordering vegetable egg rolls. The detour proved worthy. The exterior shattered off in golden brown flakes to reveal a soft, savory filling.

Turning our attention to sushi, we selected salmon sashimi, a spicy tuna roll, and, just for kicks, a Shrimp Lovers roll. The final choice was delicious. The concoction, far from traditional sushi, featured tempura shrimp, crab salad, avocado, and cream cheese, topped with more shrimp, spicy mayo, and eel sauce. Sweet, salty, and creamy came together for perfect, indulgent bites.

Mayit first learned the art of sushi-making when studying in Malaysia in the aughts. He said he feels drawn to Japanese food because it combines good flavor and health, though the latter does not quite apply to the rolls designed for American palates.

Pung Mayit, of Myanmar, trained as a chef in Malaysia, where he began learning the art of sushi-making.
Photo by Madison Simmons.

Most people can make cream cheese and fried shrimp taste good, but the other two rolls really showcased Mayit’s artistry. Five thick slices of coral-colored salmon arrived on the bamboo tray. The salmon tasted sweet and clean and was perfectly cut to showcase the texture of the fish. Avocado and cucumber accompanied the spicy tuna, wrapped in seaweed and a layer of fluffy white rice. It tasted fresh. The ratios of each ingredient balanced perfectly and, when dipped in wasabi-tinged soy sauce, tingled on the palate.

Diners can choose from a dazzling 10 flavor options for ramen. Mayit said he makes his broth the traditional way: He boils either pork bones or whole chicken, depending on the ramen, for at least eight hours, until the bones release their flavor and nutrients.

Though I am a classic tonkotsu devotee, I opted for the spicy tan tan ramen in the name of new experiences. The chile- and sesame-flavored broth tasted bright and nutty. Bok choy, bean sprouts, and the traditional soft-boiled egg topped the nest of springy noodles. Though I would not likely crave this over a more traditional broth, the lighter broth left me refreshed.

The vegetable egg rolls, though not healthy, taste delicious.
Photo by Madison Simmons.

The waitress gently talked my dining companion into the tonkotsu kuro ramen. This dish took the classic pork broth and added smoked black garlic. The bowl was delightfully fragrant and smoky. Though he missed the simplicity of the traditional taste, I rather liked this addition to the classic. The extra umami notes had me reaching for more than my fair share. We agreed that the noodle-to-broth ratio was slightly off, as we ran out of soup with plenty of noodle left. Then again, if I spent at least eight hours laboring over a broth, I might use it sparingly, too.

We lost track of time, lulled by the soothing atmosphere. Mayit has painted the walls of the house black, a design choice that lent a cozy intimacy to the bungalow. He converted the existing bartop into a sushi bar, as the restaurant is BYOB. Based on the steady foot traffic on a quiet Thursday night, KingYo has quickly established itself as a go-to spot, a welcome addition to the neighborhood. The family chose this location in part because of the charm.

“This is like our home, where we try to make our favorite things,” Mayit said. “I can say it’s a dream come true.”

 

KingYo Sushi and Ramen House
Vegetable egg roll $6.99
Shrimp Lovers roll $14.99
salmon sashimi $15.99
Spicy tuna roll $8.99
Tonkotsu kuro ramen $13.99
Spicy tan tan ramen $13.99

 

Pung Mayit (right) and his family members offer smiles alongside Japanese food at their Race Street restaurant.
Photo by Madison Simmons.
Photo by Madison Simmons.
KingYo Sushi and Ramen House gives new life to the Race Street bungalow that formerly housed Tributary Cafe.
Photo by Madison Simmons.
The vegetable egg rolls, though not healthy, taste delicious.
Photo by Madison Simmons.
Pung Mayit focuses on creating ramen and sushi at his new Race Street restaurant.
Photo by Madison Simmons.
The spicy tan tan ramen offers a brighter, lighter alternative to heavier ramen broths.
Photo by Madison Simmons.

 

 

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