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Ren's Ramen, Chef-Owner and GM-Owner Eiji and Yono Nakamura in Wheaton


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The wait for good ramen in D.C. and environs has finally ended: Ren's Ramen has opened inside of Daruma Japanese Market in Bethesda, serving up steaming hot bowls of Hokkaido style goodness. Ren's has taken over Daruma's seating area and, it looks like, part of its kitchen.

The wife, Japanese, had the miso ramen, which she declared very good. I tried the pork shio ramen, including extra pork, which had a very good, rich broth. The pork was a little disappointing, though -- not too tender. They also have vegetable shio ramen and shoyu ramen, as well as gyoza. The noodles are fresh -- frozen or refrigerated, not sure which -- and imported from Hokkaido.

Prices are on the high side -- $10.00 for a bowl of miso or shio ramen ain't exactly cheap. Plus, my extra pork set me back another $3.50. Don't plan to order that again. Egg and corn are extra. But the ramen here, while not quite as good as some places in NYC and NJ, beats the hell out of the slop served at other places around D.C., including Temari Cafe in Rockville. My wife and I will surely be regulars.

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We were impressed by our Miso Ramen here today--a very generous bowl with a pork cutlet, very nice broth, and great noodles. I'm not an expert in Japanese noodles, but this was a great dish and we can't wait to go back.

We were never regulars, but we occasionally stopped in at Daruma for a weekend lunch and we always enjoyed it. This is definitely an upgrade, but I'll miss the katsu-don.

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Stopped in here for the first time. Miso ramen soup was simple but very tasty. Excellent broth!! The pork cutlet wasn't so much a cutlet as a slice. I don't know if the ramen noodles are on par with what are considered high quality noodles in Japan. I understand that they're imported from Japan, which must contribute to the high cost.

I'd stop in again if I was in the area and hungry, but a bowl of beef noodle soup from JNH or the excellent congee from Wong Gee would be preferred choices (and MUCH less expensive).

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I stopped in here at lunchtime last week. I ordered the tonshio ramen without additions, and the broth had a great flavor with a hint of fresh ginger. The pork slice was still a little tough and not as fatty as I prefer. The lunch set option during the week includes your choice of ramen with an add-on small bowl of rice with stewed pork on top for $3.50. It was nice to see that the vegetable ramen option was made with kombu and was truly vegetarian. The price is pretty high, but for Japanese ramen, it was the best bowl I've had in the area in ages. Additionally, Ren's Ramen is cash-only.

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I tried a bowl of ramen at Ren's for the first time today. While I liked the pork topping (a tender, very flavorful slice of roasted pork that came with the bowl, and a portion of "fatty pork" -- belly I believe -- that was $3.50 extra) and the noodles had a nice texture, the soup itself was a little too salty for my taste and was really greasy.

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I went to Ren's this weekend- On the ramen discussion, they were freaking out over the price. I don't consider $10 expensive for ramen- it's about that much in nyc and that price if not more in Japan. If you want to compare to pho or chinese noodle soup, it will always be more expensive.

I liked that Ren's had choices of broth- they were out of the miso, so I got the "Tonshio" ramen- which is salty and oily- I like it this way. Even better would be if they had a spicy version of this broth. I added fatty pork, corn and an egg. It did remind me of decent ramen in Japan- the noodles had a really nice texture and flavor. While it's not the best I've ever had, it is the most authentic bowl I've had in the area.

My friend got "Sapporo" which was a clear broth with soy sauce. It was less oily.

I would definitely go back.

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I dined here last night with this site's newest member, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was woefully ignorant of ramen outside of the bargain college dorm food variety until she suggested this place, so I enthusiastically agreed.

I had the Tonshio, she had the miso I believe. Complaints of too much salt did not show themselves last night. Both brothes were certainly salty, but not offensively so. The fatty pork and the egg were both must haves. I must figure out how to make eggs like that for myself. Gyoza were standard in flavor but nicely crisped on the outside.

Loved it, can't wait to go back.

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I keep meaning to try this place. I have walked by where this place supposedly is dozens of times. When I look over to where it is supposed to be I don't see it. granted, I have not walked in to the parking lot to look around for it, but where the heck *is* it exactly? Is there a door or awning that says 'Ren's Ramen'? Argh!

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I keep meaning to try this place. I have walked by where this place supposedly is dozens of times. When I look over to where it is supposed to be I don't see it. granted, I have not walked in to the parking lot to look around for it, but where the heck *is* it exactly? Is there a door or awning that says 'Ren's Ramen'? Argh!

Did a quick web search and found this "how to find it" intel; see second and third paragraph:

http://www.lepetitov...ethesda-md.html

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I keep meaning to try this place. I have walked by where this place supposedly is dozens of times. When I look over to where it is supposed to be I don't see it. granted, I have not walked in to the parking lot to look around for it, but where the heck *is* it exactly? Is there a door or awning that says 'Ren's Ramen'? Argh!

There is ample signage. Just scoot into the parking lot, you can't miss it. It's across from the parking lot entrance to the CVS. You cannot see the signs from either road though.

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Mods, feel free to poop on me for this, but I think it's important to note in this thread that Ren's is open, rather than just have it in the Kilman thread. I have never read him and don't care who he is, but since the "news" that it closed was out, it seems sensible to note that error in this thread.

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How descriptive is the menu? I don't speak Japanese and don't have extensive knowledge of the various styles of ramen. So the question is do I need to print a copy of the Wikipedia's ramen cheat-sheet? For those of you who have been to Ippudo in NYC, what about their menu?

jparrott's post:

Ippudo's menu has very good descriptions.

grover's post:

If you google Ippudo, you can see its menu. Ippudo's menu

I found this Ippudo menu. Not exactly the same as Grover's original post.

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The menu is small but descriptive. Four available types: miso broth, salt/pork broth, salt/veggie broth, and soy broth. Didn't memorize the toppings but I think they offer eggs, corn, sliced pork and stewed fatty pork (tastes like red braised pork at Chinese joints). We started with an order of gyoza, a bowl of miso (with stewed fatty pork) and a bowl of salt/pork. The noodles had a nice firm texture - both broths were on the salty side but very tasty (much better than the ramen I had earlier this week at Tachibana). I want to like ramen because I love the movie Tampopo but none of my experiences so far (had ramen in NYC back in the 90s when even NYC didn't have really good ramen) have ignited any sort of passion for ramen. Maybe Ippudo will convert me.

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Went tonight. Opted for the miso version with an egg and fatty pork. Tried the dumplings, too, which were delicious. But -- this ramen -- so so good. What a slurpy salty globule-laden hot mess of a dinner. So freaking good. I am hoping they re-open elsewhere in Bethesda, but I'll be glad they just re-open as long as they are somewhat local. If you have a chance GO before their hiatus between the current location and wherever they (hopefully) end up.

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Went again for lunch today to satisfy my ramen craving, especially considering I have no idea when I will be able to indulge again. I hope they find a new home, soon! And I hope it is still in Bethesda. Plenty of empty space to fill, the question will be cost of the rent, I am sure.

Such good food.

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Ren's Ramen will close in its current location on 8/20 and will be reopened elsewhere. I LOVE this place - they can't re-open soon enough for me!

Tim Carman reports that they will now close on Friday, September 3.

Does anyone remember the hours??

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I drove by Ren's a few days ago, it looks pretty forlorn. It is a pretty bad location anyway but the rent must have been really, really low. I drove past Satsuma on Norfolk Ave. in Bethesda and noticed a sign in the window that said "Dan Dan Ramen". I thought at first perhaps Ren's had landed there but I must be wrong. It looks like they are jumping on the ramen bandwagon but I do not see ramen on the Satsuma website.

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Went with Juliusc91 for lunch today. I had the Tonshio. Good, but I liked his Miso SO much better. He also got the fatty pork and I didn't (major fail on my part), but at least I was smart enough to get the egg. It's a damn good egg.

I do think it's expensive when you consider the pork and egg add ons (is it really $2 for an egg?!), but it was enough for 2 meals for me, which makes it fine in my book.

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Just received an e-mail from Ren's Ramen. They're reopening in Wheaton on Wednesday, June 1.

New location: 11403 Amherst Ave., Wheaton, MD 20902

Business hours:

Mon - Sat 11:30am - 3:00pm ( Lunch) 3:00pm - 10:00pm ( Dinner)

Sun 11:30am - 3:00pm ( Lunch) 3:00pm - 9:30pm ( Dinner)

Closed every second and third Tuesday of the month.

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Planning to check out the new space tonight, even though this is far from ramen weather, especially Sapporo style ramen. Hopefully it'll cool down by dinner time.

It'd be great if they offered a lighter style ramen during the summer months then go back to Sapporo style for fall and winter. It'd also be nice if they got a liquor license a credit card machine.

I know I'm asking too much. I'm just glad they're back. B)

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Dropped by last night and the ramen was just as good as I remember, if not better. The menu is pretty much the same as before, but I think some of the prices of the toppings increased slightly. Still cash only and no liquor license. Maybe the latter is a good thing. I imagine they need quick turnovers to be profitable, and alcohol would just cause people to linger.

There was a short wait when we arrived around 8pm and a few groups waiting when we left about an hour later. The new space is about twice the size of the original, but it doesn't seem to be utilized to the optimal level. They could add a couple more tables and maybe install more counters to increase the number of seats. If they keep it the way it is, I think there's gonna be a very long wait once word gets out.

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Planning to check out the new space tonight, even though this is far from ramen weather, especially Sapporo style ramen. Hopefully it'll cool down by dinner time.

It'd be great if they offered a lighter style ramen during the summer months then go back to Sapporo style for fall and winter. I

One of my very favorite summer dishes is zaru soba. For anyone unfamiliar with the name, it is buckwheat noodles that have been cooked and then chilled, served with a soy/rice wine vinegar/mirin-based dipping sauce, flavored with ginger, sprinkled with scallions. So refreshing on a hot day.

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One of my very favorite summer dishes is zaru soba. For anyone unfamiliar with the name, it is buckwheat noodles that have been cooked and then chilled, served with a soy/rice wine vinegar/mirin-based dipping sauce, flavored with ginger, sprinkled with scallions. So refreshing on a hot day.

Actually, the dipping sauce is tsuyu, which is based on dashi and seasoned with soy sauce, mirin, and sugar. Vinegar may be added to it as a seasoning, but it's not a standard ingredient in tsuyu itself. Not in my experience or according to our stash of J-cookbooks, anyway.

Random ramen-related advice from my students in Japan: You should never go out for ramen on a first date because eating ramen makes your nose run.

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Actually, the dipping sauce is tsuyu, which is based on dashi and seasoned with soy sauce, mirin, and sugar. Vinegar may be added to it as a seasoning, but it's not a standard ingredient in tsuyu itself. Not in my experience or according to our stash of J-cookbooks, anyway.

Thank you for providing accurate information! It has been a couple of years since I had zaru soba, and my taste memory failed me about the presence of acid in the dipping sauce.

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It's great to have Ren's back, and I'm not the only one who feels that way - when I went this afternoon there was a pretty consistent 15-minute wait. The new space is slightly less cramped and less oddly laid out than the old location, but it actually has a few less seats. The kitchen wasn't cranking out the ramen as fast as most places, but it seems like they have plenty of back of house space and I'm sure they'll speed up as the staff acclimates.

The tonshio ramen was as good as it was in the old location - this is possibly the best ramen on the east coast, and was even better than some of the ramen places in Tokyo. As before, the roast pork is on the dry side (though not as much today), but the stewed pork add on is luscious. Worth the trip despite the long metro ride to Wheaton, and I'll probably be back within the week.

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When I planned a trip to Atlantic City, I was actually more interested in what I was going to eat on the way home, and that was ramen. I arrived just before noon yesterday (a Sunday) and the place was already crowded. I ordered the shio (salt) ramen, large bowl, with seaweed, bamboo shoots and extra noodle. They told me the extra noodle would be on a separate plate. I wonder why they don't just dump the extra noodle into the bowl? As it turned out, the bowl didn't really have enough broth to accomodate the extra noodle, which made the broth very thick and starchy. They really should dump the noodle in the broth and made sure the broth/noodle ratio is correct. Perhaps that's just the way it's always done but it doesn't make any sense to me.

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They told me the extra noodle would be on a separate plate. I wonder why they don't just dump the extra noodle into the bowl? As it turned out, the bowl didn't really have enough broth to accomodate the extra noodle, which made the broth very thick and starchy. They really should dump the noodle in the broth and made sure the broth/noodle ratio is correct. Perhaps that's just the way it's always done but it doesn't make any sense to me.

The way I was taught was that you don't ever want too much noodles in the broth; otherwise, the noodles will soak up all the broth the longer it is sitting in the broth and will lose its al-dente/qq-ness. And, if you are a broth drinking person, you will lose the tasty extra broth. So, they are serving it in the correct manner and you have just enough broth to accentuate the noodles.

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The ramen noodles should be eaten pretty quickly to avoid becoming soggy, which is difficult to do with extra noodles. Typically additional noodles should be ordered after the bowl of ramen has been served, so that they can be added to the remaining noodle-less broth as soon as they're delivered to the table rather than overcrowding the bowl or getting cold on the plate.

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Visited Ren's for the first time today for lunch and was very pleased. Had the shoyu with egg and seaweed added to the mix. The broth was good today, not greasy or too salty and the egg complemented the broth nicely.

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First visit to Ren's today and I really enjoyed it. I'm not a ramen expert but have had it in Japan and on our west coast so had some sense of how to assess it.

First, the place itself or VENUE & SERVICE

Loved it. Exactly what I'd imagine an authentic ramen shop should be like. Pretty basic. Small number of tables. Japanese curtains at the entrance. Register and small cooler at the rear of the shop with American and Japanese sodas. I also like that it's not only close to Ruan but also to Nava just down the street and the Wheaton outpost of Full Kee just a 2-minute walk to the west. Wasn't busy today at lunch hour. There was just a single younger woman working the front. Service was fine. She was very nice and as efficient as one could want.

FOOD

Well, surely the best ramen I've had in this region but, in full disclosure, I haven't yet made it to Toki and I'm not sure where else serious ramen is even available in our area. On the merits though:

- ramen noodles: these had the flavor and firmness of the better ramen shops I've been to in LA and overseas. Might have liked a bit fewer of them relative to proteins/toppings but that's a very small point.

- broth: some of the reviews on those 'other sites' have complained that this broth is too salty. Mine wasn't at all. I thought it excellent, well seasoned and finished all of it happily.

- protein: I ordered the shoyu (soy) and Ren's charges an extra few bucks beyond the $10 or so standard price for extra pork beyond the one slice of roast pork and maybe 1 or 2 T of crumbled pork that come included. So, of course, I signed on for an extra portion of roast pork (4 pieces at $2 or $3) and this was totally right answer. Right answer except for the fact that I probably blew it by not ordering the pork belly, which I saw promoted on the wall after it was too late (maybe $1.95 for two pieces). Next time.

- other toppings: the ramen came with some bamboo shoot and I'm not sure exactly what else so I ordered and paid separately for some cabbage, the seasoned egg I'm used to getting with the ramen on the left coast and some seaweed. This all made for a pretty full bowl of goodness.

VALUE

Again on those 'other sites,' I'd noticed some complaints with pricing and separate charges for things like the seasoned egg. Mine as described above came to $18 and, while that's maybe a few bucks more than the last time I had good ramen in LA, I'm okay with it given the competition (not much) and their need to make consistent profit with a very limited menu. I'd like it if they took credit cards (perfect place that hasn't yet caught the ipad Square wave) but, again, not a big deal.

I'll be back. For more ramen and, as soon as spring returns, for some of that zaru soba Zora and Xochitl10 wrote about upthread. :)

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