Slurp Some of DC’s Best Ramen This Winter
Toki is just the tip of the iceberg.
There was a time when DC’s relationship with ramen was little more than college students, interns, and other budget-conscious diners boiling store-bought noodles. That all changed dramatically in 2011, when Toki Underground began offering Taiwanese-style ramen and drawing hour-long lines to its small Northeast loft. The years that followed saw a surge in like-minded restaurants (even pop-ups) offering savory, steaming bowls of ramen topped with pork, vegetables, and even fried chicken. Many make their noodles in house, and a few even source them straight from Japan. With the pandemic shifting dining habis, restaurants have gotten creative about how to package this delicate dish for optimal home dining. Here are the most essential spots in the District for when you want to slurp down some A-plus ramen.
Acclaimed Philadelphia chef Peter Serpico has come south to DC to offer his Korean-esque spin on noodles. Pete’s Place ghost kitchen will provide craveable dishes for delivery throughout DC. His chicken soup comes with wavy noodles and pulled chicken with miso, soy, scallion, garlic and carrots. For more heat, go with the spicy pickled pepper variation, which packs a punch from serrano peppers and can be made vegan on request.
How to order: Place delivery through DoorDash.
Hatoba, meaning “dock” in Japanese, is DC’s third (and newest) Sapporo-style ramen shop from the Daikaya Group. Dishes like red miso with clam or spicy red miso with pork and seafood nod to its Navy Yard location and ship-inspired decor, which includes private booths and artificial food displays that invite guests or order with their eyes. A more delicate garlic shoyu and a vegan tomato curry soup don’t skimp on the comforting vibes, either. As always, you can load up on extra pork, vegetables, spices and a soft egg to complete the bowls. Sake, beer, wine and cocktails are all available, which will come in handy during baseball season pregaming.
How to order: Carryout orders can be made online through Toast, and delivery is available on Grubhub, Uber Eats and DoorDash.
Operating out of Ghostline, a communal “ghost” kitchen, this ramen shop offers bowls of hot and cold ramen to Glover Park and the surrounding neighborhood. Hot broths include classic shoyu, shio, miso along with a vegan option. If it’s not soup season, tsukemen is a chicken-based dipping ramen served cold with pork loin, a poached egg and vegetables. The menu also includes a selection of appetizers, like seaweed salad and fried “karaage” chicken. And the beauty of being set up in a ghost kitchen means that you can order from a variety of restaurants at the same time.
How to order: Pickups can be made on-site and delivery is offered through Toast.
Chef Darren Norris knows his way around Japanese food, and earned notoriety in DC for his skills at Kushi in the mid-2000s. He got back into the game this summer with Shibuya Eatery, which specializes in small plates and grilled skewers along with plenty of noodle options. The hot options swim in a bowl of dashi broth and combinations like roasted vegetables, sugar-cured kurobuta pork belly, broiled eel or wagyu beef. Cold noodles come with cold dashi dipping sauce—try the variation with the shio koji chicken. Shibuya offers buckwheat soba (gluten free), udon and matcha green tea soba noodles.
How to order: Call the restaurant for pickup or use Grubhub, DoorDash, Uber Eats or Postmates for delivery.
This local izakaya makes two kinds of noodles—skinny and curly—for its seven types of ramen. The signature Akira Ramen bowl is loaded with pork and vegetables and flavored with tonkotsu salt broth and a hit of black garlic oil. Sweat it out with the chili kick of the volcano ramen, or double down on the comfort food vibes with deep fried “karaage” chicken or shrimp tempura. Akira’s small plates and appetizers deserve attention, too—especially the succulent grilled yellowtail collar.
How do order: Select pickup or delivery through ChowNow or call a location directly.
During normal operations, crowds would swell at this Chinatown ramen joint, forcing hungry guests to wait patiently for a seat in the small downstairs dining room. This spot offers five kinds of Sapporo-style ramen, and they take authenticity seriously: Their noodles are imported from Japan, made from a recipe developed specially by Daikaya, and the nuanced Chintan stock takes more than 16 hours to make.
How to order: Carryout items can be ordered through Toast, and delivery is offered through DoorDash and Uber Eats.
Chicken ramen is the star of the menu at Bantam King, which is housed in a renovated Burger King (there are plenty of nods to the original design, like fast-food booths and cafeteria trays on the walls). There are several possible combinations of broths and flavors centered around the cloudy paitan stock. It’s hard to pass up the kick of the spicy miso ramen or the delicate flavors of the shoyu (soy) Chintan broth. Bowls come with the option to add on items like a seasoned egg, corn, or extra meat. Also, guys, it's basically impossible to ignore the restaurant’s extremely shareable fried chicken platter, which marries fiery Nashville hot chicken with Chinese flavors. It’s great for soaking up Bantam King's very solid Japanese drink list, including sake, beer, and Japanese whiskey (although the ramen does that job pretty solidly on its own).
How to order: Carryout items can be ordered through Toast, and delivery is offered through Caviar and Uber Eats.
It’s clear from the moment you enter Oki Bowl that this restaurant is a little different from the typical ramen joint: The dining room is doused in ambient blue light and decked out with all kinds of decor, from birdhouses to old computer parts. The same goes for the funky outdoor space. The menu breaks from the standard mold a bit as well—alongside miso and kimchi ramen bowls, there’s also a spicy Tom Yum option with fried jumbo shrimp, mushrooms, and bean sprouts. Pork belly, fried chicken, eggs, and vegetables are all available as add-ons (and when there is an option to add pork belly to anything, you should probably take it). The curry ramen is tough to stop slurping. Oki Bowl’s goods are available in the Georgetown neighborhood, too, at Wisconsin and Q Street NW.
How to order: Delivery is available through Postmates.
Sakuramen is an affordable spot to take refuge from the Adams Morgan madness. To start, don’t miss out on the large selection of steamed buns, which come in everything from bulgogi beef to mushroom. For the ramen, the shoyu gojiramon is the most traditional choice, with chashu pork, scallions, nori, and sprouts. The shoki bowl is worth going for if you're feeling especially carnivorous: It's loaded with meat, like bulgogi beef, a heap of chashu pork, and comes with a seasoned egg. Sakuramen serves choices of vegetarian and spicy recipes, too.
How to order: Delivery orders are handled in-house, with a $25 minimum.
Toki Underground was in many ways DC’s original ramen hotspot, attracting rave reviews and long lines and laying the groundwork for other businesses to follow suit. Original chef Erik Bruner-Yang has stepped down to pursue other ventures, but wait times can still balloon for a shot at this Taiwanese ramen. For ramen, the Toki classic, which comes with pulled pork and soft egg, is a popular option, and the spicy and savory red miso and kimchi choices (it’s especially funky) are other good bets.
How to order: Order pickup and delivery directly with Toki, through Toast.
Chaplin’s may be best known for cocktails and dumplings, but they also have a completely decent ramen selection waiting to soak up a night of drinking in the always buzzing Shaw neighborhood. The standard-issue bowl is made with pork belly and tonkotsu, but vegetarians and vegans have choices as well, like miso and shio broths. We’re in favor of the Chaplin A.S.S. bowl, which combines Asian spicy sour chicken, scallions, lemongrass, coconut milk, red chili paste, and pork butt. There’s also the option to add extra ingredients like pork butt and even gyoza—and who has the power to say no to dumplings on top of ramen?
How to order: Order delivery through Caviar.
Jinya may be a national chain, but it takes its ramen seriously. They offer tons of combinations, though the restaurant’s “flagship” is the Jinya No. 1 tonkotsu black, a classic ramen mix of pork broth, chashu, nori, green onions, egg and garnishes. If that seems old hat, consider adding spicy ground chicken or pork. There are plenty of other directions, too: Heat seekers will likely dig the spicy chicken ramen, and vegetarians have a few options to pick from. The restaurant also offers a big list of rice and curry bowls and small plates for non-ramen outings. Jinya has area locations in DC, Maryland, and Virginia.
How to order: Pickup orders can be made online.
Haikan’s Sapporo-style ramen is a cornerstone of Shaw’s hip Atlantic Plumbing building, and for good reason. It shares DNA with Daikaya, Bantam King, and Hatoba, all top ramen spots in Washington. Noodles are specially made in Japan and married in-house with the delicate Chintan stock. Grab a table in the narrow dining room, along the high-energy kitchen bar or at a communal patio table and get slurping. Bowls of shio, shoyu (soy), miso, or spicy shoyu soup can be customized with a whole range of additional toppings from butter to bamboo to a seasoned “nitamago” egg. Cold noodles make an appearance during summer months. As an added bonus, most of the ramen varieties are available in both large and small portion sizes, leaving flexibility to stop in for a snack or pair a bowl with another appetizer like crab rangoon or a mapo tofu-inspired poutine.
How to order: Carryout orders can be made through Toast, and delivery is available through Uber Eats and Caviar.
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