Ramen is a mainstream culinary staple in major U.S. cities like New York and San Francisco over the last five years. And now, the Japanese iconic dish is fast becoming a food craze here in Washington DC. There’s a ramen noodle restaurant popping up in just about every neighborhood! Following are my favorite Top 10 picks for DC’s most delicious ramen (listed in alphabetical order and includes two new restaurants set to open later this spring).
Bantam King, 501 G Street. NW (Penn Quarter)
This restaurant is slated to open this spring from Daikaya partners Daisuke Utagawa, Katsuya Fukushima, and Yama Jewayni and is already receiving tremendous buzz. Once it opens, Bantam King will be serving up Japanese chicken ramen in addition to Japanese fried chicken.
Daikaya, 705 Sixth Street NW, Washington DC (Chinatown)
Daikaya is the first ramen restaurant I ever visited and now it’s hard not to compare the others to this place. The broth is so flavorful. The meat is so tender and savory. The egg is soft and creamy. The ramen is perfectly cooked and very filling. I really like the minimalistic decor and the communal style table setting. Known in DC as a ramen powerhouse, the line for this restaurant is usually an hour to two hour wait. And I personally think it’s worth it. There are better times to visit though, like during the week when it first opens and during a time when an event at the Verizon Center hasn’t concluded.
Gaijin Ramen Shop, 3800 Lee Highway, Arlington VA (Arlington)
This is a cozy little restaurant and very child friendly. Gaijin Ramen Shop’s commitment to preparing from scratch Kyoto-style ramen without the use of MSG may inspire you to add more seasonings and spices to the mild flavor broths.
Haikan DC, 805 V Street NW (Shaw)
Another creation by Daikaya partners Daisuke Utagawa, Katsuya Fukushima, and Yama Jewayni set to open soon. I get the impression that these guys have a proven business model and that everything they open will receive wide acclaim. I’m looking forward to the grand opening.
Momofuku, 1090 I Street. NW (City Center)
Beautiful space with outdoor seating in DC’s latest luxury neighborhood, City Center. They are known for their pork buns just as well as they are known for their ramen. This is a really nice date night spot.
Okie Bowl & Sake, 1817 M Street. NW (Midtown)
Located in a quaint little basement directly off M Street, the restaurant is very eclectic, rustic yet modern. The prices are very modest.They are just as famous for their sake and happy hour drinks as they are their ramen.
Sakuramen, 2441 18th Street. NW(Adams Morgan)
Cheese on ramen is an American innovation. Made popular by American soldiers stationed in Asia, Sakuramen added the cheese on ramen dish to the menu here as a tribute to veterans. This dairy delight is just one of the things that separates this ramen shop from all the others. The restaurant also offers one of the largest selections of ramen you can find in Washington DC.
Sushi Taro, 1503 17th Street, NW (Dupont Circle)
Among the bento boxes and sushi, this restaurant offers an authentic variety of Japanese food. One of Sushi Taro’s best kept secrets among those “in the know” is the fact that they offer unadulterated and authentic expression of the Hakata-style ramen, served for lunch only once a month. (Call for details). Sushi Taro’s tonkotsu is amazing and authentic and very hard to come by.
Toki Underground, 1234 H Street. NE (Atlas District)
Owner Erik Bruner-Yang traveled around Asia sampling ramen prior to opening Toki Underground. He creates an asian-fusion style ramen–really setting himself apart from the other ramen restaurants. There are several vegetarian ramen options on the menu and the kimchi ramen which uses a sharp, fragrant kimchi in the puree of the broth.
Yona, 4000 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington VA (Ballston)
Jonah Kim & Mike Isabella’s partnership eatery seems to offer more of a Japanese-Korean fusion style fare. Their Miso Porky was suggested as the most popular item on the menu. The ambience is very modern and chic.