Tanpopo Ramen and Sake Bar

There’s a new restaurant on Upper Union Street! It’s Tanpopo Ramen and Sake Bar, and it’s in the old Hot Harry’s location on the corner with Keyes.

Cute W and I realized rather belatedly that both our daughters were participating in Relay for Life on Saturday night, which meant that we could have a date night. It was such excellent weather that my first reaction was that we should walk somewhere, and I actually suggested the City Squire at first. We’re not really big “pub fare” people, and so we’ve never gotten around to visiting after the big renovation. Then there was a rather off-putting brutal review, but we’ve heard better things since there’s now new management. But we didn’t end up going, because that’s when Cute W mentioned that he’d biked by a new ramen place. And we are big “Asian fare” people. Turns out that they’re almost next door to each other and both were doing a brisk business. Which is excellent for the neighborhood! So: yay.

Tanpopo Ramen in Schenectady is their second location — the first is on Broadway in Albany. The website is a little confusing because they don’t talk about Schenectady at all yet, and the menu’s a little different. But whatever. The restaurant space has been completely redone since last time we visited and ate burritos there, and it looks really good, including some fun light fixtures over the bar. The service was excellent and quick.

It’s a sake bar, so of course we had to try some sake. I got one described as light and sweet and bubbly, and it was one of the cheapest, too. It was yumma.

Next we shared a spicy pork bun appetizer. We loved these. They were spicy, but not too spicy, and so good. It’s that same bun stuff I associate with good dim sum (yes, I know I’m crossing cultures here), and I love that stuff. At this point I was a little sad that the girls weren’t with us so we couldn’t justify ordering more.

We shared two different bowls of ramen: chicken curry and beef stew. They were very different, and we liked them both.

They’re a bit of a mess to eat, with their super-long noodles and large-cut veggies and big chunks of beef. Even with those big ol’ soup spoons and a set of chopsticks I was feeling a little lost, wishing for, maybe, a colander and a fork. But we persevered! The ramen dishes definitely aren’t great for passing around the table, but luckily it was just us two and we’re comfortable sharing cooties. Next time I’d ask for an extra bowl or two.

And there will definitely be a next time. I’m super-excited to have another place within walking distance that serves yummy drinks and food.

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