Looking for the best ramen in DC? Our favorite DC foodies share their two cents on where to get your noodle fix in the district. Make sure you guys bookmark this post and try every place listed for serious foodgasms that’ll satisfy. So, without further ado, let’s get to it! We hope you’re ready for some impressive noodle lifts and droolworthy bowls.
1. DCNomster’s Pick: Haikan
Located in the Shaw neighborhood of DC, Haikan is quite literally located next to the 9.30 Club. So whether you’re stopping by after a show or have been turned away by Daikaya (which has happened to me on countless occasions), Haikan is definitely the hero we all need. With its Chintan broth made with not one, not two, but three types of animal protein (#triplecombo), you’re in for a treat with my favorite bowl of ramen in all of DC. While Tonkatsu broths have been the Queen Bey of the ramen world as of late with its uber milky broth of emulsified pork fat and collagen, the Chintan broth here is clear and light with some next level flavor from the combination of chicken, pork and beef bones that have been brewing for hours on end. The one unifier that you’ll find at all of Chef Katsuya’s ramen shops are the noodles. Imported from Sapporo, these are a wavy noodle with a springy-factor that is hands down the biggest reason I gravitate towards his ramen above all others. While pasta should be al dente, noodz need to have that perfect chew and mouth feel. Plus, the waviness of the noodles help to cling onto some of that broth with each and every slurp.
For me, my go-to order is the spicy shoyu. I’ve found that other ramen spots overdo it with the soy sauce (shoyu literally translating to soy sauce) that creates an overly salty broth, but at Haikan it’s just perfect to complement the noodles and toppings. While your bowl is already loaded up with toppings, which include wok-fried bean sprouts, garlic and onions, I can’t help myself and always add on some extra menma (bamboo shoots) and nitamago (aka #yolkporn on another level, legit imagine a yolk that is custardy and lush). That in a nutshell is my bowl of choice. Eating ramen for me is one of the most pleasurable moments of repetition one can experience. You go from slurping some noodles to a bite of the chashu then a slurp of the pristine broth and then a bite of the egg. The best part is that you just keep repeating that motion until you’re left staring at an empty bowl.
So some major pros about eating at Haikan, besides the slurp-tastic ramen obvi, is the fact that 1) you can make reservations in advance 2) there are a ton of window seats cause you know that inner food-stagrammer inside each of us wants that perfect #noodlelift shot 3) you can order a smaller bowl of ramen (wait for four. It’ll make sense there) and 4) they’ve got small plates that you can order as well on top of all the ramen they’ve got on the menu like Japanese Deviled Eggs, Crab Rangoon and “Kitamura” Poutine. If that doesn’t convince you that Haikan is da bomb, just look at those #ramen pics!
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2. The Thrifty Spoon’s Pick: Reren Lamen
Reren is hands down one of the best values for ramen in the city. They specialize in lamen, Chinese hand-pulled noodles, served in a a delicious broth, just like a traditional ramen. Reren’s signature lamen is only $10 for a huge bowl filled to the brim with fresh vegetables, pork belly, a soft boiled egg, and of course – a generous portion of lamen noodles. Grab a pair of chopsticks (and probably a to-go container for all of your leftovers!) and dive right in.
3. East Coast Contessa’s Pick: Umaya Izakaya
The heart of Washington DC’s City Center neighborhood has become a mecca for foodies from around the globe. In the side streets and narrow alley ways of the District, some of the world’s most renowned chefs put years of training and apprenticeship to the ultimate test in a city that has become home to more than a dozen Michelin-star restaurants.
One of the more recent additions to the City Center food scene is Umaya Izakaya. A rising star among the Japanese street food scene, Umaya blends a Western-style beer garden with traditional Asian dining, and offers an impressive selection of specialty ramen — a generous amount of wheat noodles served in a meat or fish-based broth with soy sauce and a plethora of spices.
Serving many of their otsumami’s (appetizers) and other menu items like sushi tapas style, they put their own spin of many of Japan’s most time-honored dishes to encourage togetherness, community, and serenity through their dining experience.
Among the most popular ramen bowls is the “Curry Ramen” with curry infused pork broth served with Kara-age (Japanese Fried Chicken), soft boiled seasoned egg, bamboo shoots, enoki mushrooms, spinach, and sweet corn. Executive Chef Nick Hoang crafts a potent but perfectly spiced paste that can be blended into the broth to add a flare of sweet heat. Don’t bother asking what’s in it, however. It’s a highly safeguarded recipe that must be tasted to be treasured.
4. The Carboholic’s Pick: Jinya Ramen
This California-based Japanese restaurant is home to one of my favorite bowls of ramen in the district. Their chewy house-made noodles are on the thicker side, and their 10-hour house-simmered broths are full of rich flavor. My personal favorite bowl is the Spicy Umami Miso Ramen. The ground pork is tender and juicy, noodles are plentiful and the broth is addicting. This spot also features other Japanese bites making the perfect starter if you’re looking for more than just ramen. I absolutely recommend giving it a try!
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5. EatDrinkDC’s Pick: Daikaya
While there are no shortage of ramen joints in the city, my favorite will always be Daikaya. No matter what mood I’m in, how hot or cold the weather outside is, the deliciously savory Shoyu Ramen is a magical cure all for whatever ails you. I’ve tried all of the ramens on the menu, but always find myself coming back to the ever-flavorful Shoyu. Pro tip: always add the pork belly. The hip, funky interior is the perfect backdrop for a casual date night, catch-up dinner with friends or whatever occasion you find yourself slurping noodles. Put your name downstairs (because let’s be real, there’s going to be a wait) and pop up to the second-level Izakaya’s bar for snacks (go for the Grilled Avocado and Grilled Octopus) while sipping on draft cocktails, sakes, and other specialty drinks.
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Alright Nomsters, we hope you enjoyed today’s ramen roundup. A HUGE thanks to our incredible blogger friends for taking the time to talk about their favorite noodle places with us. Have you gone to any of these restaurants to get your nom on? Definitely let us know by leaving a comment below. Also, make sure you check out “Cheap Eats in DC: A Guide to Eating on a Budget” if you’re looking for other delicious options in the Capital. Until next time, friends!