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Daikaya Ramen, Chef Katsuya Fukushima and Owner Daisuke Utagawa in Chinatown

Chinatown Japanese Ramen

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#51 sheldman

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 02:57 PM

What time did the crowds arrive?  (Planning to go there for lunch in the next week or two)

 

If going for lunch on a weekend, I would suggest getting there at 11:30 when they open.  I have been once on a Saturday and once on a Sunday (yesterday), and it has gotten crowded not long after that.  



#52 darkstar965

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 10:56 PM

Things I learned at lunch today:

 

1) No matter how frequently I use chopsticks, I will never develop facility with them. Ramen with poor chopstick skills will ruin a shirt and tie.

...

I gave up trying to eat with chopsticks a long, long time ago. I always get a fork to eat any kind of Asian noodle soup (or any other kind of Asian food) and have never been given any attitude about it.  Can't deal with slurping the noodles, either, so sue me.

 

Using chopsticks generally, and for noodles more than solid food, takes some real practice and experience. Especially true if you didn't grow up using them. I managed to learn how to use them reasonably well as an adult but I don't think it matters here whether someone does or doesn't use them.  To each his or her own.

 

What time did the crowds arrive?  (Planning to go there for lunch in the next week or two)

 

For lunch on a weekday, you'll almost certainly wait if not there when they open at 11:30.  It's very popular and the place has limited seating.  I've heard some others say they waited half an hour or more but both times I went for lunch at noon or 12:30, the wait was less than 15 min simply because tables and seats turn very quickly.  Earlier better but I wouldn't worry too much unless you really have limited time.



#53 DonRocks

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 11:01 PM

Things I learned at lunch today:

 

1) No matter how frequently I use chopsticks, I will never develop facility with them. Ramen with poor chopstick skills will ruin a shirt and tie.

 

Try it with Jajangmyeon sometime.


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#54 lizzie

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 06:36 AM

Lunched here yesterday. I agree with the reviews above - the noodles are so good. Two had the vegan option, one colleague had the shio with pork and I had the shoyu ramen (also with pork.) To quote one colleague, "I am so full and know I should stop but I just can't." The broths were delicious, the soft boiled eggs two of us had were a bit over soft-boiled but still a great addition, and those noodles were like nothing I had ever had in DC. We arrived around 12:15 and were seated within minutes. I think we were just fortunate but most parties seemed to be seated fairly quickly. Service was gracious (fork provided to one in our party without question or smirk) and the menu explained very clearly.

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#55 cheezepowder

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Posted 28 March 2013 - 07:00 PM

Jessica Sidman says the izakaya opened at 6pm today.



#56 darkstar965

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Posted 28 March 2013 - 08:34 PM

Lunched here yesterday. I agree with the reviews above - the noodles are so good. Two had the vegan option, one colleague had the shio with pork and I had the shoyu ramen (also with pork.) To quote one colleague, "I am so full and know I should stop but I just can't." The broths were delicious, the soft boiled eggs two of us had were a bit over soft-boiled but still a great addition, and those noodles were like nothing I had ever had in DC. We arrived around 12:15 and were seated within minutes. I think we were just fortunate but most parties seemed to be seated fairly quickly. Service was gracious (fork provided to one in our party without question or smirk) and the menu explained very clearly.

 

^ what she said. I made it to Ren's today for the first time since a few very successful visits to Daikaya.  Have always loved and appreciated Ren's and I still do.  They make a fine ramen there.  However, despite both spots buying their noodles from Nishiyama, I think they're different.  The Ren's version seem a bit thicker and softer (the later of which could just be the cooking time or temp of course) than the springy and firmer noodles at Daikaya.  I'm glad Daikaya is getting a lot of love here. Feels very deserved.



#57 sheldman

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 01:58 PM

I am now ready to go on record as believing that shoyu is the best of the three non-vegetarian options.  All are good.  Shio is more subtle and delicate.  Miso is miso-y.  Both are very good.  But if you are looking for intensity of experience, shoyu.  This is not a brilliant insight, as all are well-described on the menu itself.



#58 Marty L.

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 03:33 PM

Typically I agree with Sam.  But I actually prefer shoyu least of the four -- a bit too strong in soy for my taste, too intense.  Just had the vegetarian for the first time -- surprisingly hearty and tasty.  And shio is the "purest."  But if I could only have one more bowl  . . . miso.

 

I am now ready to go on record as believing that shoyu is the best of the three non-vegetarian options.  All are good.  Shio is more subtle and delicate.  Miso is miso-y.  Both are very good.  But if you are looking for intensity of experience, shoyu.  This is not a brilliant insight, as all are well-described on the menu itself.


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#59 Gary Tanigawa

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 08:18 PM

bean sprouts in ramen :blink: ?

 

I don't think this is uncommon. The standard toppings at Ren's include bean sprouts, and I'm pretty sure I've seen it used in other ramen places in NYC and Japan.

 

Of course, you're correct. I see now my comment was written misleadingly. Athough a common topping, toppings like bean sprouts and cabbage (raw or cooked) are not my preference. I'm sure the shop would omit the bean sprouts if asked. I still haven't been to Daikaya Ramen, but I'm looking forward to trying their ramen.

 

20110903122537b66.jpg

 

the above is an extreme version of Jiro ramen posted for amusement, not something from Daikaya Ramen



#60 Genevieve

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Posted 17 May 2013 - 12:29 PM

Had my first ever non-college-packaged ramen here.  Absolu-freaking-lutely delicious.  I had the miso and added the egg, and had the gyoza on the side.  Way too much food for one person (well, for me), but I did want to try the gyoza too, and I'm glad they did, as they were much richer (darker? earthier? smokier?) flavored than any dumplings I've had.  Perfect sear on one side of each, a little translucent on the other side, great tasting pork filling.

 

The ramen was fabulous.  I had the muri-miso, which was deep and rich tasting, not too salty, and very complex.  Thanks for the tip to eat the noodles first.  They were springy and flavorful and I loved the texture.  Also thanks for the tip to let the egg heat up -- I forgot to do that for the first half-egg, which I ate when it was cool (still delicious but slightly disconcerting), but let the other half soak in the broth until I was almost done, and then it was warm and even better. 

 

I ate with my jacket on, zipped up to protect my clothes from splashing broth as I ate the noodles with chopsticks -- all well and good but I was sitting at the counter right by the vat of cooking soup, and it was like being in a steam bath wearing fleece. :)  Very cool to sit there and watch the chefs, who were intent and worked smoothly as a team and once gave each other high-fives and grinned. 

 

Edit:  forgot to say that service was GREAT.  Informative and warm/friendly and efficient.



#61 lindzjax

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Posted 24 May 2013 - 02:24 PM

What is the table wait process? Do you put your name in and they text you like Toki? Or do you have to hover? We are hoping to go tonight and don't really know what to expect for getting a table for two on a Friday night.

#62 Sthitch

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Posted 24 May 2013 - 03:59 PM

What is the table wait process? Do you put your name in and they text you like Toki? Or do you have to hover? We are hoping to go tonight and don't really know what to expect for getting a table for two on a Friday night.

 

A couple of Fridays ago we walked right in at around 7:00.



#63 Simul Parikh

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Posted 06 November 2013 - 04:06 PM

Went last night. Had I read properly, I would have realized that Ramen part has no reservations, while Izakaya does. I made reservations, but wanted noodles. It's a very pretty space. Outside is really beautiful, too. I really can't stand going to this part of town, especially when there is an event at Verizon (there was a Caps game). There are these cut out fan shapes along the facade of the building and it just shimmers and looks gorgeous when you walk up to it.

 

So had a reservation for 8p ... Got there at 750p and was told this. They said it would be about 25 minutes, so the young hostess said go upstairs and have a drink while you wait. I felt that was a suitable compromise. My PhD economist friend and I went outside and up the stairs to the Izakaya. Gorgeous inside, felt spacious, bar was beautiful, lots of shochu, sakes, etc. I had a Brewer's Art Sublimation on draft. She got the Yoho Aooni IPA in a bottle. There was a time when the best beers in the world were from the Czech Republic. Then Germany. Then Belgium. Then America and we've had them for a long time. But, every time I try one of these small batch Japanese beers my mind is blown. Very hard to find out, but if y'all see a Yoho or Hitochino available, give it a try. At less than 25 minutes, got the phone call to come down. I hadn't finished, and it was obvious, waved bye to the barman and went down to get our spot at the communal table.

 

So, this is the one negative of the night. We get in, and the young woman sees the beer. She makes a face and then says, "I don't want to scold, but ..." and then scolds me for bringing the beer down. I said to her nicely that the guy upstairs saw me with it and didn't say a word. She said, "Well, I don't know what they are doing up there, but.." But, the thing was, it clearly wasn't a big deal, because I sat down at the table with it and finished it. I'm sure it's some city regulation, but there is a nice way to handle it and a rude way to handle it. She chose the latter. The beer selection at the Ramen table is limited - just Sapporo Draft or Kirin Free (N/A), so if you want something nicer, get it upstairs first, but finish it and don't bring any of it down. The ramen room is communal, and high energy, and loud but you can still hear your tablemates. I love seeing the guys work the kitchen, excited, smiling, high fiving. It is a very cool scene, out of a movie almost (if there was a movie about Latin American noodle-istas at a Japanese-style Ramen shop; I think George Lopez would have to be in it as the wisened noodle expert who studied in Tokyo and maybe Paz Vega as the trainee that falls in love with George). Anyway ... 

 

We ordered the gyoza because we were very hungry and needed something to gnosh on. Pork and cabbage filling. The sauce is soy mixed with rice vinegar. I had the very sweet hipster waitress mix up the sauce for us with sesame chili oil and a cumin-esque spice, because I had no idea what the proportions should be. After we ordered that, we had her go over what she liked from the ramen choices. She preferred the Shoyu and the Spicy. We were both in the mood for Spicy. As for toppings, I got the soft boiled egg and she got the roast pork. Unfortunately, the gyoza and noodles came out all at once. I don't know if it is supposed to happen like that (I guess at Chinese and Vietnamese and other Asian places the appetizer vs entree separation is not appreciated). So, we had a few gyozas. I really liked them, and the sauce was pretty tasty. 

 

The noodle soups were fantastic. I'm not a ramen guy (yet, but I want to be one). I loved the flavor, but it wasn't as complex as at Toki's or Sakuramen's broth (granted, I only tried one here and a few at those places) and it wasn't nearly as spicy as the extra spicy at Tanpopo. The noodles are really good, though, I liked them better than the one's at the other places, thicker, fuller, more flavorful. The soft-boiled egg was cooked perfectly to my tasting, with some runniness and a great texture. Marinated in soy, I think. She had a half an egg in hers, too, and I had roast pork in mine. So, do they all come with a little and more toppings are extra? I have no idea. The roast pork was great and tender and fatty and delicious. I nearly finished the whole bowl, as did my friend. 

 

I liked the meal a lot. I didn't appreciate the scolding. It appears that the few places we do have are all very good, and all have different specialties/high points. I still need to make it to Ren's, but it's so far away from me! I think I like: Toki, Sakuramen, Tanpopo, and Daikaya in that order, but I think Sakuramen didn't have beer when I went (or am I wrong?) and Tanpopo ends up being more expensive (or maybe as much as), but because of lack of ambience, I feel like I'm getting a bit shortchanged. Daikaya is visually most appealing, both downstairs and upstairs. 

 

Simul


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#64 JoshNE

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Posted 06 November 2013 - 08:34 PM

The beer scolding seems very odd to me, since I thought these places were just arms of the same umbrella establishment.  More than a few times, I've brought (with explicit permission) my unfinished beer from The Pug upstairs to Toki.  I wonder now if that is a true policy, or a gentlemen's agreement between the joints.

 

I would've done the same thing you did, and probably wouldn't have reacted as nicely to the "scold."



#65 Barbara

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Posted 06 November 2013 - 09:59 PM

You are correct in thinking that there is no beer at Sakuramen. They have been caught up in the liquor moratorium in Adams Morgan. Since I only go there for lunch, that isn't an issue for me.



#66 darkstar965

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Posted 06 November 2013 - 11:15 PM

...

We ordered the gyoza because we were very hungry and needed something to gnosh on. Pork and cabbage filling. The sauce is soy mixed with rice vinegar. I had the very sweet hipster waitress mix up the sauce for us with sesame chili oil and a cumin-esque spice, because I had no idea what the proportions should be. After we ordered that, we had her go over what she liked from the ramen choices. She preferred the Shoyu and the Spicy. We were both in the mood for Spicy. As for toppings, I got the soft boiled egg and she got the roast pork. Unfortunately, the gyoza and noodles came out all at once. I don't know if it is supposed to happen like that ...

 

Thanks for the report, Simul.  Very cool!

 

Two minor things related to the above excerpt for any who haven't yet been to the ramen shop since I think I've been more than a dozen times by now.  Usually, the server will automatically pour the gyoza dipping sauce and then ask how much heat as (s)he adds a few drops of the chili oil.  It's their standard process. And, ramens will normally come out faster than gyoza.  When you order gyoza, the server will usually tell you it'll take 10 or so minutes.  Like an authentic ramen shop in Japan, they're all about turning tables so spacing dishes isn't something they try to do.  Best to order two dishes separately to ensure spacing.



#67 cheezepowder

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Posted 06 November 2013 - 11:53 PM

...So had a reservation for 8p ... Got there at 750p and was told this. They said it would be about 25 minutes, so the young hostess said go upstairs and have a drink while you wait. I felt that was a suitable compromise. My PhD economist friend and I went outside and up the stairs to the Izakaya. Gorgeous inside, felt spacious, bar was beautiful, lots of shochu, sakes, etc. I had a Brewer's Art Sublimation on draft. She got the Yoho Aooni IPA in a bottle. There was a time when the best beers in the world were from the Czech Republic. Then Germany. Then Belgium. Then America and we've had them for a long time. But, every time I try one of these small batch Japanese beers my mind is blown. Very hard to find out, but if y'all see a Yoho or Hitochino available, give it a try. At less than 25 minutes, got the phone call to come down. I hadn't finished, and it was obvious, waved bye to the barman and went down to get our spot at the communal table.

So, this is the one negative of the night. We get in, and the young woman sees the beer. She makes a face and then says, "I don't want to scold, but ..." and then scolds me for bringing the beer down. I said to her nicely that the guy upstairs saw me with it and didn't say a word. She said, "Well, I don't know what they are doing up there, but.." But, the thing was, it clearly wasn't a big deal, because I sat down at the table with it and finished it. I'm sure it's some city regulation, but there is a nice way to handle it and a rude way to handle it. She chose the latter. The beer selection at the Ramen table is limited - just Sapporo Draft or Kirin Free (N/A), so if you want something nicer, get it upstairs first, but finish it and don't bring any of it down.
...


The beer scolding seems very odd to me, since I thought these places were just arms of the same umbrella establishment.  More than a few times, I've brought (with explicit permission) my unfinished beer from The Pug upstairs to Toki.  I wonder now if that is a true policy, or a gentlemen's agreement between the joints.
 
I would've done the same thing you did, and probably wouldn't have reacted as nicely to the "scold."


I agree that scolding was not the right way to handle this. I think the issue is that for a customer to take a beer from the Izakaya upstairs to the ramen restaurant downstairs, he/she has to walk outside with an open container of an alcoholic beverage.



#68 Mark Dedrick

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Posted 07 November 2013 - 02:10 PM

More than a few times, I've brought (with explicit permission) my unfinished beer from The Pug upstairs to Toki.  I wonder now if that is a true policy, or a gentlemen's agreement between the joints.

 

My understanding is that the Pug and Toki share the Pug's liquor license. And since you never actually leave the building this is no different from taking your beer from the first floor to the second floor of any restaurant.


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#69 cheezepowder

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 10:46 AM

We went to Daikaya for lunch on Mon (Dec. 23).  I had the spicy miso ramen.  Flavorful broth (not very spicy, but I have a high spice tolerance).  The noodles were still as good as the times I had ramen here earlier this year.  

 

We sat at the counter and watched them cook and assemble the ramens.  Very impressive in their coordination and efficiency.

 

We got there around 11:35 am (they open at 11:30am).  There were already people seated in the restaurant.  We didn't have to wait to be seated, but the place filled up very soon thereafter with folks waiting.



#70 eatruneat

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 10:39 AM

Your beverages can be transported from the izakaya upstairs to the ramen shop downstairs. You just can't be the one doing the transporting. That is what happened last night as my boyfriend and I grabbed drinks upstairs while waiting for seats to open up in the ramen shop. Since our drinks were only half finished we asked if they could skip over us and call us when the next two seats open up but were helpfully informed that a host at the izakaya can bring our drinks downstairs. There is a way for staff to go between the two places without going outside so the beverages never leave the building. So we paid our tab at the bar, brought our drinks to the host, and were reunited with our drinks a few minutes later at the ramen shop.

 

Daikaya Ramen now has spice balls you can add to your ramen to make it spicy (or spicier). Part of me thinks this is happening because people want their ramen to be spicy rather than appreciating the broth for what it is. I'm not sure how I feel about this even though I did add a spice ball to my shio ramen with egg and menma. The spice ball definitely added heat but the heat comes at the end rather than up front. I really enjoyed the ramen and drank as much broth as I could short of putting the bowl up to my mouth and slurping it all down. My boyfriend had the shoyu ramen with canned corn, his go to order. Even though I like to switch it up with my ramen selection, I think the shoyu broth is the best of the offerings.


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#71 Simon

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 09:06 AM

I really didn't like the vegetable ramen I had at lunch yesterday.  The broth did have good depth of flavor (if not clarity or subtlety), especially for a vegetable broth, and the noodles were fine.  But the balance of the dish was overwhelmed by the sheer mess of wok-fried vegetables thrown on top, which felt like they belonged in a Chinese stir-fried dish, not a bowl of ramen.  No sense of balance, no sense of composition, no sense of a harmonious whole.  I was also astonished by the amount of bean sprouts being heaped on top of the other ramen preparations I saw going out.  I sensed a "more is better" philosophy that goes against much of what I love about ramen, and Japanese cuisine in general.  







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