Tag Archives: ramen

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Is Absolute Noodle Worth a Visit? Absolutely.

What’s the hotter trend in D.C. right now, ramen or “fried chicken and donuts”? And when will some daring restaurateur open an eatery that combines all three?

In Penn Quarter, Daikaya has been generating buzz for its ramen bar and izakaya. One street over on 5th St., the less flashy Absolute Noodle seems to be flying more under the radar.

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Absolute doesn’t serve strictly ramen; as its name suggests, the emphasis is on Asian noodles and noodle soups. You can select egg noodles, fettuccine, glass, ramen, rice, soba, or udon, pair them your choice of three broths, and mix and match with various meat toppings and veggies.

Then there are the restaurant’s special signature noodle dishes, which run for $10. I liked the look of the bulgogi udon and duck soba, but ultimately was drawn to the baby back ribs noodle.

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In the bowl were wavy egg noodles, veggies, a dark Thai-inspired sauce, and two “intentionally braised” baby back ribs. What that means I don’t know. Are ribs usually braised accidentally? Sir, we braised these ribs, but we didn’t mean to! We’re so sorry!

Anyway, these were intentionally braised. The tender meat pulled away easily from the bone and incorporated into the chewy noodles. This particular dish is served without broth, so I ordered a bowl of broth on the side.

The whole thing tasted great and was a nice amount of food for $10. My co-workers liked their various noodle soups too, and even had leftovers to take home.

So hooray for this ramen/noodle trend. Keep it coming.

Absolute Noodle
772 5th St. NW
Washington, DC
202-789-0022

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Party in a Bowl: Ramen at Daikaya

Much has changed in the week and a half since I ate at Daikaya.  The weather has nudged warmer (sort of), and the restaurant has since opened its second-floor izakaya. I’m guessing what’s stayed the same are the lines queuing up for a taste of the ramen.

The ramen bar was hopping on a chilly Tuesday night.

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We were lucky to get seats at one of the long communal tables.

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The gyoza were what you’d expect — crispy on the bottom with a thin skin and juicy filling of pork and cabbage.

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Daikaya keeps the ramen menu simple with four types to choose from.  I have to imagine the shoyu ramen is the most visually appealing of them all.

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The glossy, caramel-colored broth shimmers in the light.  Rounding out the bowl are bean sprouts, chopped scallion, a sheet of nori, grilled onions, ground pork, a slice of roast pork, and half a soft boiled egg.

One sip of the broth and boom, a flavor of grilled smokiness explodes on the taste buds.  It’s intense and wonderful.  I couldn’t quite pinpoint what was imparting all that grilled goodness into the broth — was it the onions? An exceptionally hot wok?

Doesn’t matter. The point is, the rich broth accompanied by the toppings and chewy, wavy ramen noodles works beautifully.

My office is near Daikaya so I’m admittedly biased, but hooray for ramen in Penn Quarter!

Daikaya
705 6th St. NW
Washington, DC
202-589-1600

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The Simplicity of Homemade Ramen

We may be hitting the last few weeks of ramen season — a steaming bowl will be much less appealing once the weather warms up — so get your ramen fix now.  (That goes for pho and Chinese hot pot, too.)

Inspired by my recent dining experience at Sakuramen, I decided to give it a whirl and try making my own version at home. Turns out, it was surprisingly easy.

First things first: throw away those flavor packets that come with the packaged ramen. You don’t need them, and besides, they’re loaded with sodium and who knows what else.

Basically I just winged it. Started by heating up low-sodium chicken stock and tossing in a few star anise. (Careful with them — they’re strong, a few go a long way.)  Added about a tablespoon of soy sauce, and a generous squirt of the Korean hot pepper paste, Gochujang.

Once the broth came to a boil, I broke in the noodles and cooked them for about 3-4 minutes. For the toppings, it was a hodgepodge of whatever was available in my kitchen — in this case shrimp, kimchi, spinach and shiitake mushrooms.

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Rachael Ray would be proud, because this was most definitely a 30-minute meal.  My broth was a far simplified version of what you’d get in a restaurant, but I thought it tasted pretty darn good.

The beauty of the dish is that you can add whatever toppings you like. It’s your own version — do what you want. As long as you create a decent broth, the rest is foolproof.

Sure, it’s still worth venturing out for ramen when you want the really good stuff.  But on a Tuesday night when you’re tired after a hard day at work?  The home version does just fine.

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Winter is No Match for Sakuramen

The restorative and soothing properties of soup cannot be overstated, particularly on a cold, winter night.  Soup warms you from the inside — something layers of clothing can’t do. And on the most basic level it’s comforting, harkening back to when you were sick as a kid and a warm bowl of soup made you feel better.

On a recent bitingly chilly night, my friend Claudia and I found the perfect antidote to the cold: a steaming bowl of ramen.

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Down the stairs into Sakuramen’s tight dining space. A table full of Asians at the front, a good sign. (It’s okay, as a fellow Asian I’m allowed to make those observations.)

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To kick things off, spicy pork buns.

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My mouth is watering as I type this. Soft, steamed buns — like baozi buns, but flat — filled with spicy pork and shredded scallion. Fold it up like a taco and eat.

Then, ramen time.

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This was the chosun, a Korean-inspired bowl of bulgogi beef, roasted kimchi, nori, scallions, egg and thin ramen noodles.

Nope, these aren’t the ramen noodles you subsisted on in college — you know, the ones you cracked in half and doused with a seasoning packet. These noodles had character and bite. Each area of the bowl was like a hidden surprise, balanced out with the flavorful broth. I settled in to a rhythm of slurp, chew, slurp, chew, until it was all gone.  I felt warm and invigorated. Cold weather? What cold weather?

The final bit of comfort, green tea mochi. Usually they’re served without accompaniments, but these came on a plate with a drizzle of chocolate, blueberries and a cookie wafer. Nice.

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To have not one, but two ramen restaurants, plus a Pho 14, so close by?  Thank you, Asian food gods.

Sakuramen
2441 18th St. NW
Washington, DC
202-656-5285