A year ago, I tried a bowl of ramen at the Yona pop-up at G by Mike Isabella. While I admit I didn’t have the best palette back then for the Japanese noodle bowl, I can say that the restaurant made leaps of changes that can be seen at its Ballston location.
Yona’s interior embodied contemporary simplicity with natural light flooding the venue from full-sized windows and dim lights suspended from the ceiling. Everything felt minimalistic but artistic with light-colored wood tables and butt frames for comfort engraved on bar chairs. You can even watch Chef Jonah Kim whip up your order from behind the open kitchen.
While more ramen shops continue to open in the greater Washington DC area, Yona made its mark in Northern Virginia. I ate a delicious, perfectly seasoned miso porky ramen. Justin and I split the miso Porky and deemed it one of the best in the city as far as sticking with a traditional dish. The broth wasn’t too greasy or rich with its heavy flavoring of miso and ideal amount of noodles to split between two. I would come back for you miso porky.
Our biggest takeaway though was the Uni Waffle. Who would have thought the creaminess from sea urchin would bounce off the flavors of a not-too-sweet breakfast favorite topped off with bits of Ikura (salmon roe)? The dish offers such depth that the Washington Post deemed it worthy of one of its best eats this year. Yum.
To accompany any good ramen bowl, Justin and I ate pork buns before digging into our shared noodle dish. They were subpar and we wished there was a moisture component to add in addition to the vegetable inside. Either way, it’s much better than some others.
Dessert is an excellent way to end a meal and potentially show off your culinary expertise in a posh setting. With three options available, we chose the Roasted Pineapple Ice Cream Sundae. The bittersweet chocolate covered a vanilla scoop of ice cream with a slice of pineapple aligning the frozen ball. The bits of maple bacon added that salty component alongside the sweet and sour flavors from the fruit.
This restaurant is a gem with plenty of reasons to return ranging from guided sake flights, Sunday Fried Chicken Buckets and lunch sets. I forgot to mention my thirst to try the entire alcoholic beverage menu after enjoying a boo rad.
My suggestion: Go. Now.
Yona is located 4000 Wilson Blvd in Arlington, VA.