Please go here. I need need need this place to succeed.
I, too, would love to see it succeed in the culinary wasteland that is A-M. And it's likely there'll be a heavy demand for it. Based on my initial meal, however, I'm afraid it's nothing I would go out of my way, or wait in line, for. Much less satisfying than my latest bowl at Ren's. I still haven't been to Toki, but my friend Rivka has, and this was her comparison:
Sad to say that Toki is way better, but it isn't an apples-to-apples comparison...yet. Toki bases all its soups on Tonkotsu, that heady, cloudy broth made from long-simmered pork bones. Sakuramen won't be doing that till December. For now, they're using a shoyu (soy-based) broth using chicken bones. Clearer, lighter, and - IMHO - not as good.
I had thin straight noodle. Some of the bowls at Saku have curly noodles, which I prefer, but they're not clear about which. [ML: They will tell you if you ask -- and I thought the curly noodles were marginally better.] All of Toki's bowls use the curly noodles. In the bowl I had, the noodles were ever so slightly undercooked. We're talking just shy of al dente. I've made four or five trips to Toki, and the noodles have been perfect every time. [ML: Mine weren't undercooked; if anything, slightly overcooked -- but not as, uh, toothsome or flavorful as the noodles at Ren's.]
The toppings at Toki also win the day. Better pork, better greens or seaweed, and - crucial - a way better egg. Toki's is just barely set; the only way to describe it is custardy. At Saku, they marinate the egg in soy first, so the flavor is good, but they're just way overcooked. Like, totally set and almost hard. Definitely not the kind of thing you want to break apart with chopsticks.
Having said all that, I'm really happy Saku is in the 'hood. The chef came out to check in, and was very receptive to feedback. (That's how I found out about plans for a winter Tonkotsu).
That sounds about right to me (with minor differences noted above), except that I'd add that my pork buns were very bland -- a pale imitation of Momofuku.
I will echo's Rivka's optimism, though -- it's early and I got a distinct sense that they really want to make this work. So perhaps some positive response to feedback, some working out of the kinks, and the coming tonkatsu, will make this a great addition to the neighborhood.