Thursday, May 24, 2012

Review: Sakuramen - Adams Morgan, DC

Ramen in 80 degree weather?  Believe me, it’s still good.  Especially when there were several days of rain in a row…despite what the thermometer said, it was still soup weather.  I read countless food blogs/DC blogs and saw that a new ramen place was opening soon.  Since I had gone to Toki Underground a few months ago and loved that I knew I had to check out the newest place.  A week after they initially planned to open (not bad!!), Sakuramen (  opened its doors this past Tuesday, May 22nd.  The line and subsequent hour wait proves that there is definitely demand for this, especially in Adams Morgan, which isn’t known for many great food establishments – though before anyone starts bitching, I do realize that that is changing quickly and I’m excited to try out some of the other places!

The atmosphere was great for a place that sits mainly below street level.  Bright red walls, decorated with painted noodles and this guy:  There are a few tables along the wall and a community table down the middle of the restaurant.  Apparently in a few weeks when they get their liquor license (which we were told was definitely coming), there will be a bar as well.

The menu consists of a few appetizers (mostly buns), a few sides and a few kinds of ramen.  You have the option of adding extra meats or vegetables as well as a “fireball”, a spicy paste made of 15 different peppers.  Let me tell ya, don’t be afraid of the fireball – if you like spicy salsa or sriracha, you’ll be fine with this.  The table shared a couple orders of buns (2 per order).  The bulgogi buns were awesome, but then again, bulgogi is one of my all-time favorite Asian dishes.  I didn’t try the mushroom version, but the consensus seemed to be that they could have used a little more sauce.  The bun itself?  Pillowy soft.

For my meal I had the Gojiramen, which was pretty basic.  Pork belly, sprouts, scallions and some bamboo shoots.  I opted for the fireball and it gave the perfect kick to an otherwise great bowl of soup.  The noodles were plentiful and not overcooked and the broth was very flavorful.  In comparison to Toki, Sakuramen’s broth was clear.  I’m quite sure they both use bone-based broth, so they obviously do something different.  Both delicious, but ehhhh Toki’s might be slightly better, or slightly more flavorful I should say.  My only gripe was that the pork belly seemed a little fatty – and yes yes, I know it is supposed to be.  But generally when I’ve had pork belly it’s been seared so there is a nice crisp crust and some of the fat has been rendered – this was a little floppy for my taste [insert joke here].  Next time, I’ll just go straight for the bulgogi in the soup too – and yes, there will definitely be a next time.