100 Favorite Dishes: My Wife's Donuts at Osaka Ramen

Those aren't sea creatures, they're doughnuts.EXPAND
Those aren't sea creatures, they're doughnuts.
Mark Antonation

No. 31: My Wife's Donuts at Osaka Ramen
Osaka Ramen just opened in late April but has already earned a reputation as one of the top tonkotsu spots in town. An exploration of the full menu, though, reveals that chef-owner Jeff Osaka has a knack for more than just noodles and broth. In a dessert dish called My Wife's Donuts, Osaka balances on the savory-sweet seesaw with astonishing results. 

Chef Jesusio Silva explains that the secret to the doughnuts is mochi, a Japanese rice paste that the kitchen makes in small batches every day. Mochi is folded into an egg-based doughnut batter and spoonfuls are then deep-fried for several minutes. Rather than emerging as a traditional round doughnut with a hole in the middle, or even a perfectly spherical doughnut hole, these fry up with tendrils and nodules, coming out of the hot oil like tiny, tentacled sea creatures.

The free-form fried figurines are then dusted with a mixture of sugar and kinako — roasted soybean powder — and served with a smear of salted butter. The first bite reveals a mind-boggling combination of light, airy batter and chewy mochi. Your tongue expects the soft center so melt into something custardy and familiar, but the texture instead registers somewhere between marshmallow fluff and an ovoid churro. The powder coating, resembling cinnamon sugar, instead tastes nutty and sweet. And a swipe through the salted butter adds crunchy bursts of fleur de sel.

If the sultry weather has you thinking about anything other than a steaming bowl of soup, head down the stairs into the cool, subterranean cave of Osaka Ramen's dining room and construct a light meal of small plates, which range from $3 to $7. Cool, sesame-coated green beans or summery fried-oyster lettuce wraps keep things from getting heavy — leaving room to indulge in a bowl of My Wife's Donuts.

We're counting down the best dishes in the city in advance of Westword's Dish event on September 20 in Sculpture Park at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, where many of our Best of Denver winners — along with other favorites — will congregate to serve up small plates. If there's a dish you think we need to try, tell us about it in the comments section, or shoot us an e-mail at cafe@westword.com.

Hungry for more? All the dishes in our countdown are linked below.

No. 100: Chile Relleno at La Fiesta
No. 99: Gurage Kitfo at Megenagna Ethiopian Restaurant
No. 98: Cochinita Pibil at Work & Class
No. 97: The Greggers Tongue Sandwich at Olive & Finch 
No. 96: Baum Cakes at Glaze by Sasa
No. 95: Goat hot pot from Viet's
No.94: Head cheese from Beast + Bottle
No. 93: Kettle Chips from Amerigo Delicatus
No. 92: Pork Belly Confit at Solera Restaurant and Wine Bar
No. 91: Tacos Campechanos from La Calle Taqueria
No. 90: Biscuits from Denver Biscuit Co.
No. 89: Clams and Chorizo at Gozo
No. 88: Aburi Sushi at Sushi Den and Izakaya Den
No. 87: Kimchi and Sausage Torta at City, O' City
No. 86: Mar y Tierra Molcajete at Paxia
No. 85: Crispy Pork Spare Ribs at Table Top
No. 84: Chips and Dip at Euclid Hall
No. 83: Chile Relleno Burrito at El Taco de Mexico
No. 82: Scallop Crudo at Stoic & Genuine
No. 81: Ceylon Curry Dosa at Khazana
No. 80: The Lambada Torta at La Torteria
No. 79: Pork Bulgogi at Dae Gee
No. 78: the Pulled Pork Pig Pen Sandwich at Boney's
No. 77: IPA Mac & Cheese at Hops & Pie
No. 76: Chiles en Nogada at Chili Verde
No. 75: Udon Noodle Bowl at Bones
No. 74: Cinnamon Rolls at the Duffeyroll Cafe
No. 73: Smoked Turkey Croque-Madame at Acorn
No. 72: Pickled Lake Michigan Perch at Trillium
No. 71: Oysters at Jax Fish House Glendale
No. 70: Venezuelan Tostadas at Empanada Express Grill
No. 69: Tahini Cauliflower from Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs
No. 68: The Ham and Cheese Tartita from Maria Empanada
No. 67: Ronnie's Favorite from Rosenberg's Bagels and Deli
No. 66: Shoo-fly Pie from the Long i Pie Shop
No. 65: Czech Potato Pancakes at Sobo 151
No. 64: Fried Chicken at the Post Brewing Co.
No. 63: Braised Brisket Sandwich at Masterpiece Delicatessen
No. 62: The Scotch Egg from Argyll Whisky Beer
No. 61: Butternut Squash Ravioli at DiFranco's
No. 60: Sesame Balls at Vinh Xuong Bakery
No. 59: Curry Puffs at Suvipa Thai Food
No. 58: Diavola Pizza at Pizzeria Locale
No. 57: Chorizo Breakfast Stew at DJ's 9th Avenue Cafe
No. 56: The Rare Beast Sandwich at Salt & Grinder
No. 55: 48-Hour Short Ribs at Chop Shop Casual Urban Eatery
No. 54: Marrow Bone Brulee at Mercantile Dining & Provision
No. 53: Prawns and Pork Belly at Blackbelly Market
No. 52: Belgian Waffles from Waffle Up
No. 51: Nashville Hot Chicken at Lou's Food Bar
No. 50: Breakfast Burrito from Chickee's Lil Kitchen 
No. 49: Monkfish and Romanesco at TAG
No. 48: Cabeza Tacos at Taqueria El Trompito
No. 47: Pupusas Revueltas at Pupuseria San Salvador
No. 46: Sesame Pockets at Golden Plate II
No. 45: Tuna Mousse at Cart-Driver
No. 44: Tavern Tots at the Highland Tavern  
No. 43: Carne Asada Fries at North County
No. 42: Pho at Wonderbowl
No. 41: Shredded Bison at Tocabe
No. 40: Nachos al Pastor from Tony Guacamole
No. 39: Prosciutto Pop Tart from Bakin' Bakery
No. 38: Ham and Egg Congee at Onefold
No. 37: Lao Sausage at the Asian Cajun
No. 36: Pan Bagnat at Fuel Cafe 
No. 35: Meatloaf Sandwich at City Bakery Cafe
No. 34: Okonomiyaki at Kobe An
No. 33: Farrotto Piccolo at Basta
No. 32: Fried Gizzards at Catfish King

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