Yona, DC's next big ramen player
As the fascination with ramen continues unabated, more talented chefs are entering the market. Chef Jonah Kim, formerly of Michael Mina’s Pabu in Baltimore, has recently announced that he’ll be opening Yona, a ramen shop in Arlington in partnership with Mike Isabella in early 2015. I had the opportunity to take over the kitchen at Isabella’s G as Kim demoed a concept vegetable broth ramen.
Vegetable ramen is not something you will likely ever find in Japan, but indicative of the creative licenses chefs have taken with the dish. Kim prepared a vegetable broth mixed with soy milk and topped with fried Brussels sprouts, carrots, pea shoots, fried enoki mushrooms, and a half-boiled egg. Kim constructed the flavor profile to mimic a tonkotsu ramen -- "The soymilk gives the vegetable broth added body and creaminess to mimic a fatty broth" and "the buttery enoki mushrooms act like the chashu or meat component." While not a traditional bowl, Kim’s ramen is informed by tradition in the same way that Bruner-Yang’s are, to create a unique dish that’s respectful of its roots but allows for creativity.