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Toki Underground, Atlas District - Chef Erik Bruner-Yang's Hakata-Style Ramen on 13th and H Street NE

H Street Japanese Taiwanese Ramen Eric Bruner-Yang

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#51 will_5198

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Posted 16 July 2012 - 04:27 PM

Seriously, favorite place in the city? Not "favorite semi-cheap soup meal"?

This is better than Komi, Corduroy, Fiola, CityZen, Elisir, Oval Room, Adour, Marcel's, Palena, etc?


Who's to decry another person's favorite restaurant? It's a completely subjective opinion, with a confluence of factors being part of it.

It sounds like Toki Underground is not for you, no matter what anyone says. Which is cool -- even among "people who post about food on message boards", everyone has different tastes and preferences.

#52 zoramargolis

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Posted 16 July 2012 - 06:20 PM

I've been told that Auto Zone will tow cars, they want the spaces for their own customers. I know a server at Granville Moores once warned another customer not to park there. This was awhile back though, maybe things have changed. I would ask someone at whatever restaurant you go to, they will know, I bet. Glad it worked out for you Zora, maybe it's open parking now.


It was Sunday night and the store was closed.

#53 synaesthesia

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Posted 16 July 2012 - 06:54 PM

It was Sunday night and the store was closed.


I've noticed them towing even when the store is closed. It's pretty ridiculous and nuts. They should contract someone to manage it as a paid lot when they are closed. They could make a pretty penny.
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#54 Eric Ziebold

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Posted 16 July 2012 - 08:37 PM

I've noticed them towing even when the store is closed. It's pretty ridiculous and nuts. They should contract someone to manage it as a paid lot when they are closed. They could make a pretty penny.


Got to Ray's the Steaks around 8:30 PM a couple of weeks ago, parked in the ticketmaster lot, or whatever it was, across the street. Got towed, and they'd been closed for hours.
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#55 DonRocks

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Posted 16 July 2012 - 09:57 PM

Got to Ray's the Steaks around 8:30 PM a couple of weeks ago, parked in the ticketmaster lot, or whatever it was, across the street. Got towed, and they'd been closed for hours.


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#56 TedE

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 10:12 AM

I've noticed them towing even when the store is closed. It's pretty ridiculous and nuts. They should contract someone to manage it as a paid lot when they are closed. They could make a pretty penny.


I'm guessing they don't want to bother with the liability. Their lot, their rules. I'm sure the towing company doesn't mind either, it's dead easy money for them. I'd be surprised if AutoZone wasn't even making money on *that* contract already!

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#57 zoramargolis

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 03:24 PM

Looks like I lucked out, then. There were lots of cars parked in the lot. The tow truck thieves people could have cleaned up.

#58 JuneBacon

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 03:32 PM

Looks like I lucked out, then. There were lots of cars parked in the lot. The tow truck thieves people could have cleaned up.


I don't know the "law" in D.C. but there are almost always signs posted in lots like these saying Auto Zone Parking only, all others will be towed, or the like. I would assume that if you had seen a sign like this you would have known better than to park there.

Whether these need to be posted to be towed or not, is the quesiton.

#59 darkstar965

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 03:55 PM

If going head to head, I would prefer Ren's. Although, I'd want a chance to try the other varieties of Toki's ramen- the miso, the chicken, and the kimchee.

Ren's noodles and fatty pork are better. The egg at Toki was awesome, but the broth might edge to Ren's favor as well.


Haven't yet made it to Toki but of course will as soon as it works. Avoided for the first several months simply because I wasn't willing to wait two hours or more. But, made maybe my 6th or 7th visit to the new Rens yesterday. I really like it--obviously :) It was worlds better than a much heralded ramen joint in Portland (OR) I hit up last month.

(IR/Japanese) MIrakutei is a ramen and sushi outpost on the city's booming east side. We sought this out for a visit because Hiro Ikegaya, the sushi master formerly behind the upscale Hiroshi in the Pearl. The idea was to offer more affordable but excellent ramen and fish. We went with two local friends who'd been before but always for the ramen. Unfortunately, this spot fell way short of expectations on both fish and ramen. The tonkotsu ramen on special was surprisingly ordinary with virtually nothing included in the base price. Extra fatty pork and egg led to our being served a cold half hard boiled egg and one puny slice of cold pork. The fish was fresh but little more can be said about it. Really disappointing. We couldn't help but feel this the work of a chef who, for whatever reasons, was shooting way below both his capability and his previous levels.



#60 Food Nomad

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 09:58 AM

I finally got back to Toki Underground. I've been trying to go back for a return visit for a month now but the line and wait were always a bit much. Went back this past Sunday and luckily got there a littler earlier than opening since the line had already started forming about 10-15 minutes before 5p. Like most everyone else, I enjoyed the ramen (just the classic) especially the egg and what seemed like a nice wrap of grape leaves in mine. What I wanted to mention was that I got their Braised Beef Shank with Coconut Risotto too which I found to be just as appealing. The beef shank had a nice flavor and came out tender. They made sure to put slivers of coconut in the risotto to give you some crunch. Just a nice dish and it could just be that I'm new to Toki but I'm glad to see that there was more than just ramen and dumplings.

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#61 B.A.R.

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 01:04 PM

I'll beat Rocks to it.....say "hi" next time :D

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#62 Food Nomad

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 05:41 PM

I'll beat Rocks to it.....say "hi" next time :D


okay, i feel like an idiot for asking the obvious and i've looked through the forums to see if I could figure it out but i honestly don't know what you mean by that. help!

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#63 hillvalley

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 06:00 PM

Before the board was started and Don was forum host at eGullet, and for the first year or so of this board, most people did not know what he looked like. Almost no one knew what he looked like and it was sort of a big deal when you finally met him. When you posted about your meal Don would reply with his "say hi next time" to let you know he had been there at the same time.

B.A.R. was letting you know he was at Toki last night too.

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#64 Food Nomad

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 06:30 PM

thanks so much!

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#65 B.A.R.

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 10:11 AM

Now closed on Sundays

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#66 Nervous Eater

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 10:16 AM

Somewhat of a bummer. I've enjoyed Sunday afternoon beers at the Biergarten or Pug followed by Toki for dinner. Hopefully it's not permanent.

#67 DonRocks

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 01:47 AM

Before the board was started and Don was forum host at eGullet, and for the first year or so of this board, most people did not know what he looked like. Almost no one knew what he looked like and it was sort of a big deal when you finally met him. When you posted about your meal Don would reply with his "say hi next time" to let you know he had been there at the same time.

B.A.R. was letting you know he was at Toki last night too.

*Don and I were in the same restaurant at the same time on three different occasions before we were accidentally introduced by a Brown brother.


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#68 goodeats

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 08:21 PM

Well, now that they're closed on Sundays, the line to wait is incredibly long. I thought I was really nuts this past Saturday, signing up for the wait. My friend swore it was worth it. So we signed in at around 6:30pm and finally sat around 9pm. (After meandering at The Queen Vic and Dangerously Delicious Pie for a long while. I don't recommend DDP. Sorry for digressing.)

The whole point is to say to go EARLY! Right when it opens. The nice gentleman who takes names say that sometimes a large wait forms late at night too.

Oh, and that the $4 pork cheeks are a lovely addition. My friend really enjoyed her bowl. very satisfying. That is all.

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#69 dcandohio

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 09:55 AM

Finally got to experience Toki last night. Put in our names at 5:20, and were seated around 7:15. I know nothing about ramen, except for the horrible packaged stuff I ate as a poor grad student. But if this is real, authentic ramen, I am hooked. I had the kim chee bowl, and sweetie had the curry chicken. We also had steamed pork dumplings and the night's special of marinated cucumbers. I ordered the cucumbers because I wanted something crunchy. The were surprisingly delicious. Sesame seeds, sesame oil, rice vinegar + ??? other "stuff," made for a really delicious foil for the rich ramen broth. I loved the bowl of goodies I had. The pulled pork in it was smoky and meaty, not all washed out like meat can be in soups. The kim chee had retained some crunch, the noodles had a nice firmness, the soft egg added melted in nicely...and this is a huge portion for $11 or $12, forget which. I could eat this very, very often.

On a side note, the place is laid out an unusual way for a restaurant. Almost all seats, except those at the actual bar, face a wall. What I realized is that being side by side, with nothing to distract us from the food or each other, we had a very intimate experience, even though every seat was taken and I assume the kitchen is a madhouse. It felt very serene, even though it's really not.

Good service added to the overall experience. This was a definite winner!

Shut up and pour another glass of wine, please.


#70 darkstar965

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 01:57 PM

Does Toki have good/great non-ramen options? I think I'm overdue to try it but need to decide whether worthwhile to go someone who's gluten free. I know there are a few sides with the veggies and a range of dumplings. But not sure whether rice noodles or rice flour factor in anywhere or if maybe just not a great spot for a GF person. Unless it's a GF person you don't like ;)

Thanks!

#71 Albert Yi

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 12:04 PM

They have some seasonal items like cold tofu, wax beans with kimchee puree, etc but these are all basically appetizers. I don't think they serve any entrees besides ramen.

#72 B.A.R.

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 12:51 PM

I think they have a daily special that is not always ramen.

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#73 DCDuck

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 02:22 PM

While they do occasionally have a non-ramen daily special, typically it is noodles of some sort, which probably doesn't get to the root of the problem. I agree with Albert Yi, if you can't eat dumplings or ramen then your ability to pull together an entire meal is severely hampered.

#74 Ericandblueboy

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 02:46 PM

SRSLY, Y go there unless U want ramen. I'm mean don't drag some gluten free person to Toki and torture him/her with the long wait and then smell of ramen.

#75 JuneBacon

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 03:52 PM

Srsly Y are you typing like that hahahaha.

#76 Kanishka

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 10:10 PM

I think they have a daily special that is not always ramen.


We go to Toki roughly once a month, most often on Saturday or Friday nights, and have noticed that specials have become much more infrequent. When we first started going to Toki regularly, two years ago, there was regularly some sort of special on offer that was nearly entree size. Last Saturday's only special was the (delicious) pickle dish dcandohio mentions above -- and I can't remember specials being on the menu the last three or four times we've visted. This makes me sad, as some of the very best things I've had at Toki have been specials, rather than the rightfully lauded ramen.

Anyone know why specials have dropped off? Maybe we need to visit on weekdays...

#77 B.A.R.

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 04:15 PM

They are having a special Laotian dinner with the chef from Bangkok Golden, this Sunday, reservations only. Judging by my meal at Bangkok Golden, this should be a good time!


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#78 DCDuck

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 04:52 PM

They are having a special Laotian dinner with the chef from Bangkok Golden, this Sunday, reservations only. Judging by my meal at Bangkok Golden, this should be a good time!

 

Can't speak to this one, but every "special" dinner I've had at Toki has been fantastic, most notably the Chinese New Year meal with Scott Drewno and Eric Yang last year.



#79 DPop

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 01:40 PM

Are there still stupid crazy waits for tables? I was thinking of trying to go after my DCCK shift tomorrow (so, about 8p) but the last few times I tried (though not in the last 6 months) it's been 90min+ waits...

This sums up my thoughts on pretty much any bar or restaurant and is why I had not been to Toki Underground until now.

 

That said, I think the Toki Classic (with a totally unnecessary add-on of Pork Belly) was the best soup not made by Frank Ruta that I can remember having. The crispness of the vegetables, the richness of the broth, and even the very well cooked al dente noodles really sang for me on a night when my allergies had my sinuses clogged to my forehead. The only thing that didn't work, which quite honestly was my fault as I should have known better, was the pork belly, which was probably well cooked when it was plunked on top of the soup, but quickly became overcooked and flavorless after getting dunked in the hot broth. I told my wife, who loves pho while I think it is one of the most overrated food crazes that has hit the DC area, that I would happily be dragged here next time she's hankering for a bowl of soup that she can pepper with some Asian hot sauce.

 

I do think I would go no later than 6pm next time, though, as the 1 hour wait time is very annoying. My phone buzzed with a text from Toki just as I was closing out the tab at Sticky Rice, frustrated and hungry enough that we were just going to eat somewhere else. I'm glad I got that text in time.



#80 DaRiv18

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 03:53 PM

I do think I would go no later than 6pm next time, though, as the 1 hour wait time is very annoying.

 

TU has been offering pre 6pm reservations for some time now, just FYI.


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#81 lackadaisi

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Posted 18 May 2013 - 07:52 PM

I'm sitting in the window right now (Saturday at almost 9) watching them tow cars across the way. Ramen was great, by the way.
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#82 RWBooneJr.

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 03:12 PM

This is a whole festival of "not good."



#83 DonRocks

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 03:26 PM

This is a whole festival of "not good."

 

[I'm going to take this opportunity to reassure everyone that this is *exactly* the type of "news" that I take to the grave. If it's out there, feel free to discuss it, but I would never break something like this. God knows I have enough imperfections of my own.]


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#84 Andelman

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 03:51 PM

Seriously. Why is this even 'news'?

He is a chef, not some elected official. Not to make light of domestic abuse, but who really cares what this guy does in his personal life??

Sort of getting tired of all the media hype surrounding people that cook food for a living. (see Paula Deen).


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#85 RWBooneJr.

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 03:55 PM

True.  This is a far more interesting story anyway.



#86 Ericandblueboy

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 04:09 PM

For the love of god, delete that!

#87 Rhone1998

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 05:31 PM

This is a whole festival of "not good."


Just when he was apparently about to start some sort of collaboration with the dismal Hanoi House on 14th St.

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#88 Sthitch

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 05:44 PM

[I'm going to take this opportunity to reassure everyone that this is *exactly* the type of "news" that I take to the grave. If it's out there, feel free to discuss it, but I would never break something like this. God knows I have enough imperfections of my own.]

 

I think that this is indeed news, but unless/until there is a conviction it deserves a passing mention in the police report not in the rather voyeuristic way that the Washingtonian presents it. My biggest issues with these types of stories is that if the accused ends up being cleared that gets just a passing mention but the initial story remains and does so without the context of the whole story.

Don: I am rather perplexed by the last sentence.



#89 DonRocks

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 07:48 PM

Don: I am rather perplexed by the last sentence.

 

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#90 RWBooneJr.

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 09:50 PM

My biggest issues with these types of stories is that if the accused ends up being cleared that gets just a passing mention but the initial story remains and does so without the context of the whole story.

 

This will get pled out, settled, and, essentially, amount to nothing.  It is a legitimate story, though.  As a reporter, when any name that people know comes across the police blotter, how do you not report it?  It's basically your job.



#91 dcandohio

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Posted 28 September 2013 - 07:28 AM

On our last weekend in DC (well, the last for a long time, cuz the movers took our stuff to Dallas yesterday), we hit H steeet NE for drinks and ramen. At 5:00, when we first checked, immediate seating was available. We weren't really hungry, so we checked back at 6:00 and were given an estimate of 1 hour or so. At 7:00 we received a text saying our seats were available. The chicken curry ramen was divine, dumplings were fried to a delightfully chewey texture and the side of cucumbers adds just the right bit of crunch and acid and brightness. But the music was deafening. Fortunately, we sat at the bar overlooking the kitchen, which positioned us behind the speakers blaring in the opposite direction. We could converse.

By the time we were eating, wait times were being quoted for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Shut up and pour another glass of wine, please.


#92 DonRocks

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 11:48 AM

Breaking News (two pieces!)

 

1) Toki Underground, for the first time ever, will be serving lunch at their H Street location. Mon-Sat from 11:30-2 PM, beginning on November 4th. First come, first serve.

 

2) Toki Underground will be having a pop-up (for now) at Union Market, with counter seating only, serving their most popular ramen dish. Wed-Sat, October 23rd through November 3rd, closed Sundays. 

 

I guess I'm supposed to say "an anonymous tipster led me to this story" (which is true, and thank you!), but the rest of the media will be getting the story later today, so it doesn't much matter. Everything has been verified with the appropriate sources via messages, phone calls, etc.


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#93 bettyjoan

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 12:01 PM

Didn't know about #1, but various H Street NE folks were Tweeting about #2 yesterday (one of them saw a sign at one of the vacant Union Market stalls).

 

Good news on both counts, I think.  I'm definitely interested in heading over there for a Saturday lunch.


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#94 DonRocks

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 12:03 PM

Didn't know about #1, but various H Street NE folks were Tweeting about #2 yesterday (one of them saw a sign at one of the vacant Union Market stalls).

 

Good news on both counts, I think.  I'm definitely interested in heading over there for a Saturday lunch.

 

It's only the second-most important thing I have to write today. I'm going to be working on the other one now.


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#95 bettyjoan

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 12:05 PM

I was just glad to see you confirm it - all of yesterday's Tweets seemed hopeful but still speculative.

 

Can't wait to see what the first-most important thing is!  Monday Funday.  :D


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#96 JoshNE

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 12:13 PM

Didn't know about #1, but various H Street NE folks were Tweeting about #2 yesterday (one of them saw a sign at one of the vacant Union Market stalls).
 
Good news on both counts, I think.  I'm definitely interested in heading over there for a Saturday lunch.


One of those H St. tweeters hangs out around these parts as well. Although the doctor in my DR avatar does not have glasses, I can confirm that in real life, I do.
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#97 DonRocks

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 12:52 PM

I was just glad to see you confirm it - all of yesterday's Tweets seemed hopeful but still speculative.

 

Can't wait to see what the first-most important thing is!  Monday Funday.  :D

 

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#98 Bart

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 10:07 PM

I happened to be in Union Market today around noon and all seats (10 or so) taken.  There were no signs/menus but when I asked a guy standing in line what the deal was, one of the diners said they do one ramen a day and that's it.  It also appears to be cash only.  I didn't have time to eat there but I'd like to go back.  I hope they add a sign or two to explain the rules to people though.........the guy I was talking to lost his place in line when he found out it was cash only



#99 DaRiv18

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Posted 24 October 2013 - 11:45 AM

I went yesterday as well for ramen.  I would suggest checking out their twitter feed to get the scoop before heading out there because yes it is somewhat mysterious, but it sounds you were there on other business. 

 

Chef Erik was there all by himself, along with about 6 stools and 4 additional standing spots at the two tables.  This seating is a bit awkward to tell you the truth.  This is definitely a hardcore "ramen is the focus" lunchspot, there is little room to socialize.  Stand in line (10 minutes for me), there is no waitlist.  Take your place when someone leaves, and leave any friends behind in the line while you slurp. 

 

I did my best to inhale my bowl as fast as possible, and there were about 8 patrons who were already eating when I sat down and were still eating when I left.  $12 for a bowl, no discrepency in the quality offered at their permanent space. 


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#100 TedE

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Posted 24 October 2013 - 09:58 PM

I was in Union Market on a non-lunch related errand this afternoon and the line for people waiting to sit was easily 15 deep at 12:15 (it was more of scrum than a line, though).  It definitely is an odd set up, and not a place you would ever be able to linger over lunch.  If the ramen is good and you're flying I guess who cares!


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