Jump to content

Tanpopo Ramen House, in the old Maria's Bakery Space (next to A&J) in Annandale - Loss of Chef Mitsutoshi Shinmoto


Recommended Posts

In case someone's really dying for Ramen in NoVa and can't drive to DC/MD for their fix, Tanpopo is now open. Some photos are on Yelp. A hand written message regarding their hours indicate that they open at 11:30 Tuesday to Sunday. For the avoidance of doubt, they're closed on Monday. The same hand scribbled message states they're only serving ramen and a few appetizers at this point.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Grover and I are headed there later on. If you want to join us, you're more than welcome. We'll be there around 5:30.

Nuts, saw this too late. I did get some good laksa at Satay Sarinah, so it wasn't a soup-free night. What did you think of Tanpopo?

Link to post
Share on other sites

We ordered Hokkaido miso ramen and spicy ramen. According to the descriptions in the menu, Hokkaido miso ramen is composed of ramen noodles in a pork, bone and miso based soup, some pork pieces, a half of a soft boiled egg, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, seaweed, corns, a slice of fish cake and chopped green onion; Spicy ramen is with noodles in a pork and bone based soup, bamboo shoots, some pork pieces, bean sprouts, a slice of fish cake and a bit of chili oil.

Kyoto tonkotsu ramen and Tokyo shoyu ramen are listed as well. All of ramens are priced around $9.00.

Spicy ramen doesn't have that diablo look but definitely has a strong kick. The soup looks milky and tasted deep and rich, perfect for wintertime.

The miso ramen tasted mild and earthy. Both ramens were very delicious. The ramen noodles were cooked al dente in Asian style. The server told us that the noodles were home-made. They serve not only ramen but also sushi and sashimi dishes. The chef's name is on the cover of the menu - Chef Shinmoto. I believe that he was the chef at Yamazato a while ago. I will try chirashi sushi next time if the chef is Shinmoto san as I am thinking.

We will definitely be going back. Anybody join us?

Link to post
Share on other sites

The chef's name is on the cover of the menu - Chef Shinmoto. I believe that he was the chef at Yamazato a while ago. I will try chirashi sushi next time if the chef is Shinmoto san as I am thinking.

Great find if he is the same chef. I had lost track of him since Murasaki. If there is a list of sushi/sashimi specials similar to what was at Yamazato, I suspect they are the same person.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Gary - I saw Sushi/Sashimi moriawase from their menu as I did from Yamazato's menu, so possibly he is the same chef.

I read the reviews from Yelp a minute ago. I think the food quality might have been improved. The toppings were fresh, the pork slice was thin and the egg was perfectly soft-boiled.

Link to post
Share on other sites

We dined there yesterday. The food quality was good, and I particularly enjoyed the fact that no one in our group (shoyu, miso, and spicy) felt their broth was oversalty. The pork was tender and sweet. My family are not big egg eaters, but my daughter's friend remarked that the egg was her favorite part. However, service left much to be desired. We were shown to a table but had to ask for utensils after our first appetizer (an ume/cuke roll) had been sitting on the table for 10 minutes. Our second appetizer did not show up, but was on the bill and had to be removed. We look forward to them working the kinks out of the service. Meanwhile, there's A&J in the same plaza, with fast, efficient service.

Link to post
Share on other sites

If they were open on Monday's we would have eaten there today. We'd go to A&J but I don't carry cash and they don't take credit cards. Looks like it will be To Sok Jip in Annandale for chicken noodle soup for me. That's going to have to substitute for the ramen I really wanted (but it's definitely not a bad substitute). We're headed that way around 2:00pm if anyone would like to join us.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Decided to check out Tanpopo for lunch on Saturday 9/15. Menu includes more options than expected (appetizers, ramen, sushi, entrees) and they also have a liquor license, but service left much to be desired. We ordered the fried fish appetizer, miso soup (for my son, so I requested it without green onions), two ramens, and assorted sushi rolls. Appetizer came out first and it was just "ok." Miso arrived with green onions and it took about 5 minutes to get the waitress' attention. Our ramen bowls arrived shortly thereafter and they were just "okay" as well. Broth was not as hot as I would have liked and it was too heavy on the bean sprouts.

We then received our bill and of course, had not yet gotten our sushi. I was pretty fed up with the slow service by this point, so I asked that she take the sushi off so that we could be on our way. No apologies for the screw up and it took her a while to process the change too.

Main problems with the restaurant - needs at least two servers. The day we were there, there was only one server and she was clearly in over her head. Menu also needs to be revised to include their alcoholic beverages because even though there was beer/sake/wine on display at the entrance, there was no mention of them in the menu so we didn't know the cost or other options. Bottom line: I would not bother going back as it's a 15-20 minute drive from where we live. If I lived in Annandale or nearby Falls Church, I would happily visit, but it's not worth the trek.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I had lunch there on last Friday. There was only one server, who was a male, but he was okay since the whole time we were there there were only 2 tables of diners. I agree with the ramen broth not being hot (temperature) enough upon arrival. I ordered the spicy ramen, which wasn't spicy at all but the broth was pretty good (it's certainly on the lighter side in terms of sodium level). I liked their noodles, and with the extra noodles (which were served later), was much more than I can eat. I left quite a bit of noodles in the bowl. Decent chasu, and the egg was marinated in soy sauce. I've had ramen now at Ren's, Toki' Sakuramen, and Tanpopo (as well as Ippuda and Momofuku). While I like them, pretty much equally, none gets me all excited. It's good to have the option but I suspect that ramen may be just a fad here.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been twice so far. I like the spicy ramen, which was incindeary the first time, and toned down to medium the second time. If they could split the difference, it would be great. Barbara had the miso ramen, which had a very mild flavor to the broth. There is a small jar of Japanese hot pepper on the table if you need to add some heat to your soup, and we did. Sushi was solid, your normal neighborhood sushi joint sushi. Service was a little slow, and could probably use two servers at lunchtime on the weekends, but I think that's going to be hard to schedule for.

Basically, it's good, it's a nice addition to the neighborhood, but I wouldn't go too far out of my way for it. On the other hand, I like it a lot more than I did Toki Underground in my one trip there.

On the downside, after my second trip, we had a little fender-bender in the parking lot. Be careful over there.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Had their salt ramen today, with some crunchy shrimp roll and two pieces of uni ($9). The broth was piping hot and still light on the salt level, which I enjoyed. The egg was definitely hard boiled and doesn't taste marinate this time. Nothing special about the crunchy shrimp roll but the uni pieces were big and plump.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Had lunch here last weekend. We had the miso ramen and the soy sauce based. The miso was much better. I suck at chopsticks, so it was a good way to eat a very tasty, satisfying meal but not eat too much of it. The +1 was there before and had the spicy ramen. He branched out to the soy and sort of regreted the choice but declared that it was good nonetheless.

If this were a bit closer to home, I would go more often. At 1:30 on a saturday there were about 5 or 6 other tables. AJ was full, obviously, but it was nice to see a "crowd" here at the later lunch time. I look forward to going back during cold weather and chowing down again. It's not on par with Toki but certainly worth a return trip.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Had a bunch of stuff for lunch today. Aji Fry ($4) was a decent amount of fish with panko - not the most exciting dish in the world but a nice, inexpensive, and moderately healthy starter. They had two kinds of uni, Maine was $7 for 2 and California was $9 for 2. I went with the Maine uni, an order of saba, and 3 pieces of spicy tuna roll. I thought the Maine uni was delicious - several pieces making a decent mound on top of each piece. The saba pieces were pretty large but they tasted over-cooked, i.e., tough. 3 pieces of spicy tuna roll were $1 because I also ordered a tonkotsu ramen (lunch special, both for $10 and the ramen itself is $9). I enjoyed the flavor the of spicy tuna roll and thought the ramen pretty good.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Three of us had dinner at Tanpopo on Sunday evening (first time for all of us), and liked it very much. Note that during January, they are offering sake at 20% off. The sake we tried was called Drunken Whale, and it was delicious. For appetizers, we had edamame, shiu mai, and gyoza, to start, and they were all tasty. The gyoza were piping hot and not at all greasy. The shiu mai were fine but nothing special. Then we had the spicy beef ramen, pork belly ramen, and the third I think was vegetarian. All were delicious and very substantial. We were impressed by the differences in flavors among the three kinds of broth. The spicy beef ramen broth tasted really rich and meaty, whereas the vegetarian broth was very mild and subtle. The pork belly ramen broth was lighter than the spicy beef broth, but very satisfying. We got 1 portion of spicy sauce ($1 extra), which was plenty for the two of us who had the beef and pork ramen. The spicy beef ramen was not very spicy on its own. In fact, a Korean couple near us appeared to complain to the server that it wasn't spicy at all, so the server brought out some of the spicy sauce for them. We used a Living Social voucher, and I just saw that they are currently offering another one. We'll definitely go back again.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Delicious lunch at Tanpopo this past weekend. We ordered one bowl of the pork belly ramen and one lunch deal with the shoyu ramen and spicy tuna roll, plus an order each of tako and unagi nigiri.

Our experience with the shoyu and pork belly ramens mirrored that of Saycheese -- two distinctly flavored broths, rich and complex. Requested an order of the #2 spicy sauce with the pork belly ramen, thinking that would add enough spice without overwhelming the flavor, but ended up wishing we had gone for #3 (spicier). Many slices of pork belly in the ramen left me feeling that the premium price charged was not unreasonable.

We were also impressed with the nigiri -- the fish was lovingly cut, the tako was properly poached for a tender texture and subtle flavor, and the portions were generous.

Service was a little spotty -- waiter asked for our drink orders without providing the (separate) drink menu, which features a number of premium Japanese beers and sakes. Our attempts to flag him down for the check were so unsuccessful that we (wrongly) concluded that their procedure must be to approach the bar/cash register and pay directly. Oops.

We'll be back soon. Probably the next time we crave either sushi or ramen, although in either case, it may be difficult to resist the lure of the other. Need to go sometime when I'm in the mood for a splurge on one of the more expensive sakes on the list, too!

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Their website doesn't list hours, nor does their yelp listing. They don't answer the phone. Next time!

Google Tanpopo. The Yelp listing is the first thing that comes up, and the hours are listed.

I can't vouch for its accuracy, and I'm not thrilled to be promoting Yelp, but ... it is what it is.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Their website doesn't list hours, nor does their yelp listing. They don't answer the phone. Next time!

Too bad you didn't make it, Dean. We just left about 30 minutes ago. Omakase was amazing (and the large fed the two of us). It helps that Shinmoto-san knows us, so he made two of everything for us so there was no debate over who got what.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Surprisingly uncrowded at dinnertime on Saturday night. We'd been planning to try the omakase, but an unexpected lunch at Hong Kong Pearl left us a little too satiated to appreciate it.

Two rounds of nigiri and an order of futomaki were outstanding. We enjoyed the orange clam, which they'd been out of on our previous two visits. Followed it with a bowl of ramen and extra noodles to share and ordered with a side of the #3 spicy sauce, learning from the weakness of the #2 on a previous visit. #3 is quite spicy -- glad I sampled before ladling it into the broth.

Pure bliss -- we let the tastes linger for a long while before we opened a package of dduk that we picked up at Siroo on the way home.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I am certain that one day we will get to have sushi here. We arrived at 8.50 knowing that their hours were op-en until 9:3-pm. We were seated and then were told that the sushi bar closes at 8.30. Since we didn't want noodles, we left. So did the other table that arrived att he same time as we did.

If only they put their sushi hours on the website. If only the put their hours on the website. Ah well, we only drove 30 minutes to get there!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I had lunch here on Thursday, solo, because I remembered that I had a coupon to use. I had the aji fry lunch special, which was a large piece of fried mackeral, w/ tonkatsu sauce, miso soup, rice, & salad ($9), gyoza ($6), & nigiri sushi- ebi & unagi. Way too much food, but I took home leftovers for the kids. It was all good, I think I would have enjoyed the aji more if it was late & I was drinking (something other than green tea)-it's a fishy fish & at 11:30, a little bracing. The gyoza were my favorite, nicely fried, not oily, the sushi was good.

This is a good lunch spot, if you're in Annandale. I'm not really a ramen connoisseur, so I didn't try it, but the food I had was delicious.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Delicious dinner here tonight. Hokkaido Miso Ramen ($9), followed by an ikura hand roll (salmon roe, $7) and shime saba sashimi (pickled mackerel, $5) for dessert. The hand roll was unusually generous, and the fish a hearty three slices instead of two. A stellar value, prompt service, a few empty tables at dinner prime time, I will soon return with others in tow.

See the enclosed pic of a murderer. The spicy sauce ($1) will kill you. I adored a dab here and there with the gratifying ramen, but even that small amount edged the broth into inedible for me. Buyer beware!

post-5654-0-01725900-1371949060_thumb.jp

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

See the enclosed pic of a murderer. The spicy sauce ($1) will kill you. I adored a dab here and there with the gratifying ramen, but even that small amount edged the broth into inedible for me. Buyer beware!

Which of the 3 spicy levels did you order? They go from spicy to nuclear. I usually get the spiciest which adds a nice layer of heat (no sweating, but a definite heat level).

Link to post
Share on other sites

^^^ I chose the first level, "spicy". On the noodles, it was a warming delight. But something about the miso broth alchemy and/or my palate turned the liquid into a weapon with sudden stoppage of breathing, watering eyes, nose, etc. I found it especially bizarre because the broth did not taste spicy with the oil that had fallen in, but it gave that extreme, fiery reaction when I imbibed an oily spot. I tried this twice, then had to stop consuming the otherwise outstanding broth.

Maybe my Irish is showing?

Link to post
Share on other sites

As of today, I am the Mayor of Tanpopo*.

Thereby, I am officially qualified to say: This place deserves more daily love from DR.

Yes, it's ninety billion degrees in the summer in DC. And yes, you should be going anyway to get your ramen and sushi on. The AC works great. Your palate and your wallet will thank you.

Mine did this evening when, in a nearly empty restaurant, I savored the chashu #35, non-spicy pork belly, $13. And another stellar ikura hand roll, salmon roe, $7. The pickled ginger deserves special note here. Enclosed pic does not do justice. Just go, bite, and let it bite you back.

Delicious.

(*foursquare)

(childhood addiction)

(adulthood affliction)

post-5654-0-27803500-1372552115_thumb.jp

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

We were there Friday night for the Omakase Sushi. This is our favorite go-to place for sushi.

Okay, this is quite a statement - favorite *period*? Favorite from your house? Favorite in Annandale? Favorite ... what? I've been here and haven't even considered ordering sushi. What did you have and what is so great? I believe you, but I need more detail and scope.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a couple of Congressional membership passes yesterday so a friend and I walked 18 holes, following the group of El Pato, Billy Horshel, Patrick Reed. They stunk, none shot below par. Afterwards I was hungry and sticky from sweat and sunblock. I felt some replacement salt was called for and went to Tanpopo for some ramen and sushi. I thought I ordered the spicy ramen with ground pork. I think my waitress mumbled that it's a Korean ramen rather than a traditional Japanese ramen. What came out was a bowl of ramen with a curry flavored broth that wasn't spicy at all. I don't know if something was lost in that mumbling. She spoke perfect English, but tends to mumble. I did hear her ask another patron what heat level he wanted - but she didn't ask me. I suspect I got something entirely different from what I wanted. I think the noodles are fine but the broth doesn't stand out.

I also ordered some seaweed salad, which I believe was only $3.50. To round out the meal, I had some orange clam, sweet shrimp (amaebi), mackerel (saba), and flying fish roe sushi. They didn't have any sea urchin (uni). Each piece of sweet shrimp sushi actually had 3 shrimp on it, stacked like a triangle. They were slight sweet, tender and not mushy - very good. Similarly, the orange clam tasted fresh. The saba,compared to what I had at Seki, was a little more "cooked" but still had the texture of raw fish. The rice to seafood ratio is right. They don't serve oversized seafood or rice. Between Tanpopo and Tachibana, I'm not sure which is better. They're both very good for sushi (although I think at Tachibana it depends on who is making your sushi - there being several behind the counter).

ETA: Tachibana is a bit more expensive than Tanpopo, so factoring that in makes Tanpopo the better sushi venue.

Edited by Ericandblueboy
Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay, this is quite a statement - favorite *period*? Favorite from your house? Favorite in Annandale? Favorite ... what? I've been here and haven't even considered ordering sushi. What did you have and what is so great? I believe you, but I need more detail and scope.

So what part of "OUR" is vague? :D Try the small Omakase as we do practically every time we go. Runs the sushi gamut but the fish is always fresh, the rice is properly vinegared (is that a word?), and the things you'd expect to be there (shrimp, squid, tuna, etc) are. The wasabi is home-made (not that garish green stuff you normally see), and the ginger is fresh (and not neon yellow).

Link to post
Share on other sites

I love this place and try to stop in if I am in the area.  Unfortunately for A and J, which is also great, I tend to pass them up for some more ramen.  The last time I was there I misordered and got the pork belly ramen instead of the lunch special, 13 instead of 10 or something like that.  It was delicious with a deep rich broth and a lot of tender but not extra fatty pork belly.  I was a little surprised by the bill but all in all it was worth it.  The sushi I have had from here has been of high quality as well.  Better yet, the place always seems busy when I am there so it seems they are doing well.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Tanpopo just gave me the nicest chirashi I've ever had anywhere and I wanted to give them a shout out.  I selected the jo chirashi, at $24.  It included, among other more pedestrian items, fatty tuna, scallops, what I believe were two different types of clam, one botan ebi (without a fried head, alas), a generous strip of grilled eel, a huge amount of salmon roe, and three pieces of top quality uni.   I've had some very nice chirashi, but for variety and quality of ingredients, this beat them all.  It was a steal at $24; both my daughter and spouse had samples of several items and it came with miso and a green salad. 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Will be very interested to learn if such a thing exists that far out. It took a long time for DC to sprout some serious ramen shops (aside from Ren's) and, even now, can count them on one hand.

Tanpopo in Annandale, same little mall as A&J (I think).  Certainly not the best I've ever had, but I do think it's good.  They do have tonkotsu broth based, which is far from universally available, and is my favorite.  They used to have a spicy beef ramen which was unusual (to me, anyway), but good.  I'm not sure they still have it.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I was wondering if Shinmoto-san had left Tanpopo because he wasn't at the sushi bar the last few times I was there. I didn't ask people in the restaurant since it was possible he had gone to another restaurant. I got curious and googled him:

Mitsutoshi Shinmoto

January 13, 1953 - November 2, 2015

My heartfelt condolences to the family.

Oh, Gary, I'm so sorry, both for you and for Mr. Shinmoto - I didn't know him personally, but obviously you did. This is terrible news. :(

Would you mind telling us a little about him? I know he's a long-time area sushi chef, having worked at Tanpopo, Yamazoto, Ariake, and Tachibana.

The master at his craft:

0313_review_tanpopo_chef.jpg (Photo courtesy of Northern Virginia Magazine)

Link to post
Share on other sites

I only knew him as a customer. I think he might have been the first itamae I asked for omakase. He liked to fish. I stopped going to Yamazato after he left. I was happy when I randomly saw him at Murasaki. Went there a couple times, then he left. Sometime later, grover and Escoffier mentioned him being at Tanpopo. They might be able to share more remembrances.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Shinmoto-san was the real reason we went to Tanpopo.  His omakase was unique, colorful, inventive and extremely good.  He was a very quiet person and when he was creating sushi (not making, creating), I don't think you could distract him in any manner.  I've never seen anyone treat fish the way he did. Even rolling the sushi rice, you could see the feeling he put into such a simple task.  He was one hell of a great sushi chef.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, Ericandblueboy said:

Anyone visit here recently?  Is the sushi any good?

We went back once or twice after Shinmoto was gone but the experience wasn't the same. The ramen remains very good, but we never tried the sushi again.  If we want sushi and are in the area, we go to Yamazoto.  While the sushi may not be prepared with quite the same respect for the fish, it's fresh, the rice is done in the Tokyo style, and it's consistently good.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Tanpopo has apparently reopened after the renovation. It has been a while since our last visit around a year ago (since we now live in Greenville, SC). We decided to stop by for lunch on our way out of town. The menu is quite different than before, and I'm not a fan of the changes. We didn't really care for the sushi today, but the ramen was still excellent. Just a quick review as we are continuing our 3-week trip up to New  England. 

  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...