Sai Sai, the Japanese eatery tucked into the lower level of Downtown's Millennium Biltmore, is now a self-described noodle bar with an entirely new look. Consistent with the strip-down to fast and casual we've witnessed overtaking restaurant ambitions the last years over, Sai Sai now features walk-up ordering, a soundtrack of rub-a-dub, and a short chalkboard menu bearing small tastes and ten options for ramen.
Chef Jonathan Shin leads the restaurant, with ramen recipe variations like banh mi, pho, lobster miso, and galbi ramen, along with smart starts like bonito flaked, shishito peppers with unagi sauce and a dip of spicy tuna with avocado and wonton chips.
The integrity of the noodles in Sai Sai's big shareable bowls hold them from standing up as a strong draw from recently introduced ramen specialists like Tsujita, Ikemen, Yamadaya, or Downtown's new location of Shin Sen Gumi. Shin's meats, on the other hand, from a six-hour, melt-in-the-mouth pork belly to his nicely charred galbi, appear to be the rejiggered concept's greatest strengths, along with the different recipes' own innovations.
So far, the new turn seems to be working, as Sai Sai is fuller at both lunch and dinner than it's been in a long spell. Take a look at some of Shin's dishes in our slideshow look into what's cooking at Sai Sai Noodle Bar.