Jennie Tai
Chinatown featured Japanese wtf delicious

WTF Delicious: Pork Belly, Ramen & A Pad Of Butter

Pork belly. Chashu. Bamboo. Sweet corn. Soft boiled eggs. Seaweed. Butter.

Because adding butter to anything just makes it that much more magical–I’m a little disappointed in myself for not having thought of this as a necessary ramen topping before.

I couldn’t say no to any of the toppings listed on Daikaya’s hot pink menu, so I decided to order them all. After having a few of my first bowls of ramen in San Francisco and New York, I’ve been crossing my fingers for a decent ramen house to open up in the DC area, and was disappointed a few months ago when I went looking for good ramen in the outskirts of Annandale, only to find bland soup, mediocre noodles and weak toppings.

I’m a little late to the party, but I’m excited let all you ramen lovers in DC know that Daikaya  (owned by a father and son duo that once ran a small ramen stand in Hokkaido) is the real deal. Opened earlier this Spring on April 3rd, Daikaya has been Graffiato’s neighbor for the last two months, serving ramen downstairs and Japanese tapas usptairs. Daikaya’s split-level experience has earned raves on both levels, but we decided to go for the main event last Friday night and to leave the small plates for another time. During our wait, we snuck upstairs to check out their spin on sake bombs (a.k.a. “Dai-drops”–a glass of fizzy sapporo with a floating sphere of smooth sake the size of a baby tomato)  and the rest of their lineup of cocktails and beer.

The two broths we tried were the Mugi-Miso (a rich, fragrant broth made from barley and miso that’s unique to Daikaya) and Shoyu (a very dark, rich, soy-sauce based broth with toasted garlic). Both of those flavors are great if you like a strong, flavorful broth. For something lighter, go for the Shio or Vegetable broth.

Things we loved:

Drinks: Dai-drops (sapporo and sake sphere) & Rickey-san (hendricks, green tea soda, yuzu & lime)

Ramen: Mugi-Miso (creamy, bold, unique) or Shoyu (rich, dark, with caramel tones)

Toppings: Braised pork belly (a must!), soft boiled eggs (boiled in soy & ramen stock), menma (soft simmered bamboo), butter (irish cream from Friesian grass-fed cows).

P.S. Don’t forget! All ramen (except the Veggie Shio) is topped with roast pork, chashu, bean sprouts, onions, garlic, ground pork, nori and scallions. So.. don’t panic like I did and order all the extra toppings–there are freebies!

Daikaya 705 6th Street NW Washington D.C.; 20001; 202-589-1600; www.daikaya.com.

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