Terakawa Ramen

Summer heat can’t stop the ramen love.

My love for ramen doesn’t stop because it’s 90 degrees outside. During my trip to Philadelphia, I stopped at Chinatown for a steaming noodle bowl. We started off with the takoyaki and chicken cutlet curry. From top to bottom, we ordered the miso ramen, bibim noodle (on the new/special menu) and the tan tan ramen.

If you’re ever craving a hot bowl of noodle soup, be sure to stop at Terakawa. Your tastebuds will thank you.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of my adventures at the mosaic garden and maze exhibition!

Japanese cuisine in Seoul

A chef who brought back recipes to his homeland.

My short time in Seoul landed me in a family friend’s Japanese restaurant Pochagaya Garoso in Gangnam-gu. The chef lived in Japan for several years and took home a number of recipes for his own culinary experience in Korea. We didn’t order anything, he just brought the food out! 😜

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Greetings, Taipei

Touchdown in a new destination.

After a few days in Korea, I landed in Taipei to meet family and explore with friends. Since it’s difficult to catch a non-stop flight from the greater Washington DC area to Taiwan, I took advantage of my time in Korea and flew direct. After landing, I stopped immediately for dinner at Kikugawa.

We ate everything such as sashimi,  crabs, uni and more. Take a look at all the delicious greatness bestowed upon us.

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More sushi, please

Stopped for a Japanese lunch in Seoul.

Call me crazy, but I tried an array of foods while exploring Seoul. Sure, a stop at a Korean bbq joint became a necessity, but I also figured since other Asian countries are close, why not see how Koreans prepare other cultural food?

This also meant trying McDonald’s, Burger King and Krispy Kreme because every franchise offered a few options that a natural born American couldn’t find in the US.

My aunt took me to lunch at a lovely Japanese restaurant known for its sushi. Sadly she can’t remember the name, but here’s some pics to make your mouth water.

Hi, Haikan

A new ramen joint in Shaw.

So. Much. Ramen.

Jinya arrived; Bantam King opened. Yet another noodle shop sweeps DC with delicious ramen despite the summer heat.

I eat this Japanese dish like it’s my job. I had my doubts about Haikan, but boy this establishment surpassed my expectations.

Elements feel eerie of Daikaya’s Noodle Shop, but that’s no surprise since it’s owned by the same team. Yet the interior decoration embodies a typical ramen restaurant with a large bar area against several tables to accompany groups and couples (booths included).

My friends and I stopped by the second day after it opened and met a 30-40 minute wait around 7:30 pm. After all, prime dinner rush coupled with the beautiful Atlantic Plumbing building made this a “must-visit” amongst residents and friends. We waited half an hour before realizing we could sit at any open seats at the bar. No one told us, but we found our way.

I ordered a $10 draft San-gu-ria, a unique take on berry, yuzu cocktail. I could sip this and my friend’s gurepu-furutsu all night long while eating a steaming bowl of noodles.

We diverted from the mapo tofu poutine since we figured it could easily be concocted in our own households and instead opted for eggs and Crab Rangoons.  For $4 you can eat two tea-boiled eggs (also similarly used in the add-on ramen bowl) topped with egg roe and and a creamy sauce. Excellent. The crab rangoons came standard, the only unique bit: a sprinkle of Old Bay seasoning.

My miso ramen exceeded my expectations mainly because the broth didn’t taste too salty and the noodles’ consistency tasted near perfection. A special touch, the chef sautéed the bean sprouts to add further depth and flavor rather than a typical “filler” ingredient. Be sure to pay extra for the egg and chashu. The thick-cut meat held its necessary fattiness and texture that upheld the additional price. If you choose to skip out, there’s ground pork in the bowl.

The staff is still trying to figure out the means. My friend’s bowl didn’t look like it held the same standard as mine’s since it had thinly sliced chashu with less fat.

Give it a go before hitting 9:30 Club or a friend’s apartment. I’ll definitely be heading back.

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Haikan is located on 805 V St NW. 

Jinya Ramen Bar opens in Virginia’s Mosaic District

A bit of West Coast drops into the DMV.

Yet another ramen joint opened its doors despite the increasing temperatures. With California origins, I expected top-quality from Jinya Ramen.

Go ahead and walk inside to see if there’s a long wait, spot at the bar or seat available at the communal table. Immediately upon walking in you’ll hear tons of noise. This place is loud.

Our waiter embodied a positive attitude and obvious love for the food since he praised everything I ordered. Although he didn’t know the alcohol menu well (probably underage), he did grab someone who did and I ordered a Sailor Moon.

Our appetizers took a noticeably long time to arrive. First came out a $4 JINYA Bun (bao), which we agreed tasted fine, but not great enough for us to pay upon a future visit. Next came the Brussels Sprouts Tempura in a small wooden box.  You could smell the uniqueness from the truffle oil the chef fried it in. Our final appetizer, the Fried Pig Ears, came with a soft-boiled egg cracked half open. We mixed it amongst the meat and kale. I would order both of these starters again since there’s nothing else like them in DC.

At this point, Justin and I craved our ramen, yet envisioned the foreseen fullness from our meal. The waiter served my Cha Cha Cha tonkotsu noodle bowl while crushing fresh garlic and serving poached egg on the side. The thick broth tasted rich and I instantly knew I wouldn’t finish this since it also came with the thick set of noodles. The noodles are spectacular; go and try the thicker ones yourself. The refreshing taste of a Sailor Moon cocktail paired perfectly with the bowl. Justin’s Premium Tonkotsu White held Western notes since I immediately tasted almost all butter in the broth. Either way, he ate the entire bowl, including the thinner noodles, before reaching for my bowl. Most notable: the pork chashu. Jinya doesn’t skimp on the meat and there’s no better way for it to be cooked.

Now that I’ve criticized the food…

Throughout my entire meal, I felt uncomfortable while sitting at the communal table. My suggestion is to avoid it at all costs unless you have a party of four (and even then at maybe you should still wait for your own table). We sat so close to our surrounding parties that along with the restaurant’s high noise level, I could potentially drink someone else’s water, splatter them with broth or listen to any and all conversations. Justin and I barely talked through our whole meal since we could barely hear each other and once the volume of music turned up, we thought it was better to just text each other. A food runner even gave us our neighbor’s food on accident. In addition, there’s nowhere to place a purse or jacket. Where are the hooks? I would never place my valuables on the floor.

Let’s be fair, it’s day two of opening. The team is working to get those kinks out.

Despite me naturally snapping food pictures with my G5X, the manager said hi to both parties next to us (both American diners), but never acknowledged me and Justin. How is he able to check on some customers and not others?

Despite some discomfort and questions, the food is worthy of several visits, especially to try everything on the menu. Just make sure you grab a table or bar seat and place your valuables appropriately. 🙂

No dessert for us since we over ordered so many fried appetizers.

Although it’s Jinya Ramen’s second day of business, I’m excited to see whether or not the food and service will get worse or remain the same. For now, it’s definitely worth the return as they prepare to implement reservations in the future.

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Jinya Ramen Bar is located on 2911 District Ave in Fairfax, VA.

Checked Yona off my ramen bucket list

But I fell in love with Uni Waffles (and potentially anything Chef Jonah Kim creates).

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.

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Yona is located 4000 Wilson Blvd in Arlington, VA.