Wednesday, March 6, 2013


I have a serious ramen problem.  I would probably eat it every day if I could.  There's just something so comforting about a giant bowl of noodles in soul-warming broth.  My absolute favorite bowl of ramen is the Hakata Classic (with extra noodles and endorphin sauce) at Toki Underground.  But, for the days when I can't wait hours for a table, I'm glad there are other ramen places popping onto the scene.

Daikaya on 6th Street NW (next to Graffiato) had been rumored to be coming forever.  They built the restaurant from the ground up.  Seriously.  It was a dirt lot a couple of years ago.  After a long wait and approximately 86 bazillion articles and tweets about when it would open, Daikaya finally began serving ramen on Valentine's Day this year.

The 40 seat ramen bar on the ground floor is open but the 90 seat izakaya section will open upstairs later this month.

We went after 9:00 p.m. on a rainy weekday and scored one of the two booths with no wait.  Aside from the booths, there are seats at the bar and a few communal tables with stools.  I hear they are working on more coat/purse hooks (a key feature in my book).

The menu is limited, placing the focus squarely on the ramen.  We ordered the only appetizer, gyoza, which were about the same as all the other gyoza in this town.  If you've had one, you've had these.

There are four types of ramen to choose from: Shio (salt); Shoyu (soy sauce); Mugi-Miso (barley-miso); and Vegetable Shio (salt with vegan stock).

I ordered the Shoyu and liked the roast pork and soy-marinated egg a lot.  I also thought the noodles had a nice snap to them.  The balance was thrown off by too many bean sprouts that imparted a strong sprouty flavor and a heavy soy sauce component.  I know it's a soy sauce ramen, but I stopped tasting the complexities of the beef/pork/chicken broth after a few slurps and felt like I was slurping soy sauce.  I read somewhere that it takes a while to figure out the balance of the Shoyu broth and I think they need more time to figure it out.

B was the big winner with his Mugi-Miso ramen.  The barley-miso broth was deliciously complicated and interesting.  This is more like the Toki broth that I've come to love and I'll be ordering this bowl o' noodles the next time we eat at Daikaya.

Will there be a next time?  Definitely.  I think Daikaya has a lot of promise and I like its convenient location and lack of crazy long wait times.  If you do encounter a wait for your table, you can grab a drink next door at Graffiato (psssst....they have prosecco on tap!).  They are also now open at lunch time in case you get a noodle hankering while you're at work.

Have you been to Daikaya yet?  What did you think?

Second Thoughts From B

Depending on your position on noodle soup, I'm either lucky or cursed.  Thankfully, I'm on board and enjoy our frequent sojourns to the ends of the earth (Cambodia, Wheaton, etc.) to find J's favorite comfort food.

While I do love a hot bowl of ramen or pho or Campbell's, I'm clearly not the connoisseur that J is.  As long as it is hot and salty and has some form of noodle-like substance, I'm a happy camper.  This is not to say that I don't recognize the good from the great.  Toki Underground and others certainly deserve the praise they receive.  It is more to say that I don't need a chef's touch to be happy.  Therefore, speed, availability, friendly staff, and cost are bigger factors for me.

In Daikaya, you have all of those things, plus J-approved ramen, within a short 15 minute walk of our place (and less than 5 minutes from Gallery Place-Chinatown's metro stop).  Sounds like a winner to me!
Daikaya on Urbanspoon


Alix said...

Kojo is doing a show about ramen right now (after the news)!

J said...

Thanks for the heads up! Will tune in (since I'm home watching the non-snow).

Cook In / Dine Out said...

I had the shoyu ramen for lunch last week and thought it was pretty good. I really liked the noodles a lot. I agree with you about the broth. I'd like to try some of the other varieties.

sunny kumar said...
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