I’m guessing you’re not supposed to review restaurants when you’re sick, but last week I was hit with the sniffles and decided it was the perfect time to try Sakuramen in Adams Morgan.
Sakuramen, which opened in May, is tucked under a small set of stairs beneath the ‘Yemaya Botanica Chango’ shop you’ve probably never set foot in. Inside, the space opens up to house an inviting communal seating area flanked by individual tables. ‘Sakura’ means cherry blossom in Japanese, so you’ll see these flowers featured in the decor.
We started with oshinko, Japanese-style colorful pickled vegetables, which cut straight through my slightly phlegm-blunted senses and got my taste buds going.
You gotta love a place that is named after its signature, best-selling vegetarian dish (or is it the other way around)? The sakuramen is heaped with curly noodles, portobello mushrooms, corn, green onions, and fermented bamboo shoots. There’s nothing fishy or seaweed-like about the kombu kelp broth (which I’m wary of as a life-long vegetarian). Instead, it’s savory and full of umami goodness, accentuated by shimmering droplets of flavored oil.
The portobellos were actually kind of delicate and sweet, and along with the corn, provided a nice counterpoint to the thick noodles and just-salty-enough broth. I’m a fan of shiitakes and other mushrooms traditionally used in Asian cuisine, but they would have overpowered the rest of the flavors here.
Although we were certainly satisfied after eating (I ‘punished’ my ramen, according to the server who took away my licked-clean bowl), we agreed that some tofu would be a nice addition of protein and texture. We did ask about adding the seasoned soft-boiled egg to our bowls, but the marinade isn’t vegetarian.
We finished with some green tea and mango mochi ice cream which was good enough, but I think I’ll skip it next time and let the ramen flavors linger on my tongue a little longer.
In addition to the sakuramen, our server mentioned that the shroom buns are also a top seller, more popular than their meaty counterparts. While I generally find steamed buns bland, I’ll try this version stuffed with marinated mushrooms and scallions during my next visit. Which will be soon, as I expect to be a regular until cold season gives way to cherry blossom season.
See you at Sakuramen!
2441 18th Street Northwest