Food-cations: Ring in the New Year with Ramen

Food-cations highlights DC area restaurants or events that offer food and experiences so unique you might forget you’re in DC.

SakuraramenIn many Asian cultures, eating noodles on New Year’s Day is a tradition that symbolizes longevity, good luck and prosperity for the year to come — just be careful not to break the noodles when eating them.

Thankfully, the ramen craze in the District has made it easy to find a quality bowl of this popular, lucky food.

Hotspot Toki Underground in the H Street Corridor dominates the market with its richly porky broths, but over in Adams Morgan, Sakuramen is making its mark.

The name blends the words  “sakura” (Japanese for cherry blossom) and ramen, and though its name may be Japanese, Korean-American owners Jonathan Cho and Jay Park have added a Korean twist to some of their dishes.

The steamed Bulgogi Buns, for example, are filled with the marinated ribeye staple of Korean barbecue; bulgogi and roasted kimchi star in the Chosun Ramen.

Chashu is fundamental to ramen, and you’ll find slow-roasted Berkshire pork belly in nearly every dish on the menu.

Sakuramen-DC-ramen-noodlesAs an homage to the area, the DC Miso Ramen is designed to look like DC landmarks. Look closely — I couldn’t see them at first, so I asked the server to point them out: That long bamboo shoot in the middle is the Washington Monument, emerging from the Reflecting Pool of pork slices. The scallions represent the grass of the National Mall, and the pink-and-white fish cake symbolizes a cherry blossom.

I asked about the shredded Monterey Jack cheese, which is meant as a tribute to veteran friends who love American cheese on their ramen. The server suggested they were clouds.

While I’m a believer in eating noodles for a long life, I’m not a fan of long lines. A two-hour wait for noodle soup? No thanks. But that’s how long my friends and I waited to try this place.

Be forewarned that, on busy nights when the staff is slammed, the small basement space can become a free-for-all, so keep an eye out for line-cutters.

Sakuramen is worth a visit. But if you go on a Friday or Saturday night, bring an assertive friend who’ll ensure you get a table.

2441 18th St. NW


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