After yesterday’s fiasco of having to go ramen-less for lunch, I came home, cooled off, then headed back out later that evening to score my ramen. I stepped down off of the sidewalk and descended the metal stairs into the land of hot broth and noodles. Sakaramen has been touted as some of the best ramen in the D.C. area so I wanted to try them out first. My only prior experience with ramen has been with Jin Ramen in Harlem which is pretty decent ramen, so they are pretty much the standard when comparing ramen. What I liked about Sakuramen was that the staff was very friendly and attentive. I was seated immediately and even though I changed my seat at the long communal table a few times to find a cooler spot (air conditioning in the back is limited) they didn’t get annoyed.
Since I read so many good reviews of Sakuramen I wanted to try different options. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to eat it all, but I like to get a good sense of the strengths and weaknesses of a restaurant. I ordered the spicy chicken thinking that it would be similar to KARA-AGE. Not sure why I thought that but was a bit disappointed when they showed up with what looked to be a chicken kabob. I tasted it and it was indeed spicy but the meat was a bit on the dry side. I also ordered the chashu buns which are steamed buns with roasted Berkshire pork belly and peppered scallion. These were delicious. I ate one and brought the other home to eat later. My focus was on the ramen that was yet to come.
Finally the ramen arrived and I was ready to sip that hot soothing broth. I think that is my favorite part about eating ramen. The noodles, meats, and other ingredients are just a bonus. When I ordered my ramen I was asked what my spice level was between 1 and 5. I ordered a 3 and while there was some spice detected I probably could have gone up a notch or two. In comparison to the ramen at Jin Ramen I would say this ramen did not have the creaminess and complexity of the tonkotsu ramen at Jin. The noodles were the right consistency (I don’t like chewy noodles) and the toppings were perfectly balanced. In hindsight I would definitely order egg to go with it next time. I also liked that it wasn’t too salty though it seemed it could have used a little extra something. I will say that it seemed a bit oily and as I spilled broth on me (I am a messy eater, especially when it comes to ramen) a large oily stain quickly spread across my shirt.
All in it was all a good solid showing, but I will continue to try other ramen offerings in the area. Of everything that I ordered my favorite were the chashu buns so I would definitely go back for those. I think with a bit of tweaking I could make the ramen at Sakuramen all my own although there probably isn’t much to be done about the excessive oil. Sakuramen 2441 18th Street NW, Washington, DC. Neighborhood: Adams Morgan
Photos by D. Bell using Samsung Galaxy S5