Cafe Assessment: Chattanooga’s Traveling Squirrel provides much more Japanese fare to its menu

This tale was updated on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021 at 6:46 p.m. to replicate that Traveling Squirrel has made the decision versus temporarily rebranding as “Flying Squid” as beforehand documented.

Flying Squirrel is a culinary chameleon, changing its menu with the period. In this situation, the Southside eatery will be introducing more Japanese favorites in addition to its typical menu.

Although restaurant officers considered briefly transforming the identify to the Flying Squid, they afterwards said they decided not to about anxieties it would bring about confusion and guide to limitations.


THE Foodstuff

Japanese food items is an experience. For starters, the names of dishes are unfamiliar to most of us in the area and mostly difficult to pronounce until you are fluent in the Japanese language. But at the time you get outside of that, you are in for foods that excites the palate. The elements complement every other for explosions of flavor.

I was in particular impressed by the ramen, the finest I have ever experienced. Govt chef Sanders Parker suggests he took the “If at initially you you should not do well, check out, attempt again” method when coming up with the recipe. He experimented with a dozen instances in advance of it came out correct, with the correct blend of seasonings and heat to carry it to perfection.

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Contributed Picture by Anne Braly / Traveling Squirrel’s ramen, produced by govt chef Sanders Parker, has a shiitake-seaweed foundation seasoned with tare (a mix of soy sauce, mirin, sake and sugar), then topped with mushrooms, kale and pickled bean sprouts. A marinated 6-minute egg is optional.

The shiitake-seaweed base is seasoned with tare, a mix of soy sauce, mirin, sake and sugar. The ramen by itself is created in-household. When blended with the mouth watering broth and topped with regional mushrooms from 2 Angels Farms, a little kale and pickled bean sprouts, along with a marinated 6-moment egg — or not, if you happen to be vegan — it truly is a detail of ponder.

At Flying Squirrel, the dishes are intended for sharing. Much too negative I was on my have, for the reason that fifty percent the enjoyable is looking at the expression on your mate’s encounter when he or she tries unique meals for the initial time, these kinds of as the Japanese pancake — okonomiyaki. It translates just into “grilled how you like it.” Seems like consolation food to me.

At Flying Squirrel, it is really assembled like a pizza, with a “crust” of cabbage and onions battered and grilled then topped with oko sauce and heaps of enjoyable matters, like toasted sesame seeds, glazed shiitake mushrooms, orange peel, pickled ginger and much more.

When on the topic of convenience food stuff, what about fried chicken? In Japan, they get in touch with it karaage. I just call it astounding. For a regional contact, Springer Mountain hen is marinated and dredged in a batter of egg and potato starch, then fried twice to get it truly crispy. It arrives on a plate with Japanese mayo and a drizzle of black garlic molasses.

I’m telling you, this is my new most loved foods.

If you go

Where: Traveling Squirrel, 55 Johnson St.

Hours: 5-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 5-11:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday

Alcohol: Entire bar

Make contact with: 423-602-5980,


THE Room

Apparently, the primary architecture at Traveling Squirrel provides character into enjoy, considerably like properties in Japan do. So the space complements the temporary alter in menu.

Booth dividers have glass embedded with a organic design, and the expansive flooring-to-ceiling home windows convey the outside in.

The very long bar at the front of the cafe, large booths together the wall and a good deal of outdoor seating with heaters let for great social distancing.


THE Support

No problems. To meet pandemic pointers, the restaurant is at restricted ability for seating, and servers wore masks at all times. To absolutely regard social-distancing rules, my server placed my drinking water glass on the desk subsequent to me to allow for me to achieve for it just after she walked off. She designed guaranteed there was lots of space among us. I regard that.

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Contributed Image by Anne Braly / Traveling Squirrel’s fried chicken, named karaage, is fried two times for further crispness. It’s served with Japanese mayo and a drizzle of black garlic molasses.



You will find a explanation why Flying Squirrel has develop into a go-to area for people on the Southside and other people looking for a very good bar scene and terrific food items. It truly is all about consistency — food items, provider and environment. And now that Flying Squirrel has new fare — at the very least till the very first nearby strawberries and other create commence ripening across the Tennessee Valley and the cafe goes back to its authentic offerings — patrons have a new menu to get energized about.

E mail Anne Braly at [email protected].