Dragonfly debuted their newly expanded menu last night and I had the pleasure of trying a few of the new dishes. Along with the new menu were changes to the restaurant's interior, with a beautifully renovated VIP room adorned with cherry blossoms and a more rustic styling throughout the dining room. The bar will be getting a makeover as well, and is currently under construction. I felt the place was due for a little bit of a renovation and I love the changes thus far.
As for the food, the most notable new item is Ramen. For those that are unfamiliar with Ramen, it's a Japanese noodle soup dish topped with meats, seaweed, poached egg, and other goodies. It's not the 49 cent packages of sadness you survived on during freshman year of college. Two of the more popular types of Ramen are served in a tonkotsu (pork bone) broth or a miso-based broth. Dragonfly offers one of each. I could not resist the Pork Ramen ($11 - pictured), which consisted of two slices of pork belly, bok choy, bean sprouts, poached egg, mayu (garlic oil), negi (green onion), beni shoga (pickled ginger), menma (fermented bamboo shoots), and nori (seaweed) in a tonkotsu broth. It was delicious and measured up to the dishes I had at ramen-houses in Tokyo. Also available is a Miso Ramen ($11 - braised short ribs, bean sprouts, corn, cabbage, poached egg, mayu, menma, nori, in a miso pork broth). You can't go wrong with either one.
Another new item were Brussel Sprouts ($8 - pictured) drizzled with balsamic vinegar, Parmesan, and bonito flakes. I couldn't resist this dish, and it reminded me of the Brussel Sprouts I had at The Eating House in Miami (look it up). Even if you're not a fan of sprouts, give this a shot! I also sampled the Corn ($5 - pictured), which consisted of sliced pieces of corn on the cob seasoned with yuzu (an Asian citrus fruit), shiso, butter, togarashi (Japanese chili seasoning), and Parmesan. This dish was good, but I would have liked to have some more sweetness to balance the spice.
There were a number of other new dishes I would have loved to try, but was sadly limited by my Asian tummy. There are dishes reminiscent of what you would find at a traditional Japanese Izakaya, where you would drink and enjoy small appetizer-sized plates of finger foods. Bacon-wrapped enoki mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, or asparagus (all $6) sound delicious, and steamed buns ($10) filled with kurobuta pork belly or braised ribs, pickled veggies, and red chili paste is on my list as well!
I think it goes without saying that Gainesville's premier Japanese restaurant just got even better. Now you can bring your date here and impress her with your fancy knowledge of the new menu. Cheers to that!
But seriously, eat the Ramen. It's great. Oh and if you're feeling saucy, you can slurp the noodles like they do in Japan to show you're enjoying the dish!