911 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, FL 33705
Cost range: 10.01-20.00
Payment options: Credit cards accepted
Alcohol: Full bar
For about the past decade, "Japanese food" in these parts meant one thing: sushi. For a crack at the hipster izakayas, essentially Japanese gastropubs or taverns, you had to head to California, New York or, well, Japan. Ichicoro debuted in Seminole Heights at the end of 2015, with Dosunco opening its doors in South Tampa around the same time. We've had a bit of ramen crop up on the Pinellas County side, but Buya Ramen (pronounced BOO-yah), opened in St. Petersburg in 2016, is really this side of the bay's first izakaya. Their tonkotsu broth is lush, unctuous and nearly opaque, blanched chicken and pork bones simmered with roasted vegetables for 22 hours before it is strained and married with noodles and toppers like bits of duck confit, fatty-edged pork belly or smoky beef brisket. There's a smart little world-beat wine list, a short list of craft beers, cocktails that rely heavily on sophisticated Japanese whiskeys and house-filtered water that is offered in bottles of still or sparkling.
Hours: 4-10 p.m. Sun.-Thur, until midnight Fri.-Sat.
Read a review here.