In what one can only hope is the shape of things to come for Adams Morgan, Sakuramen opens tonight in a space that was once a jumbo slice pizza place. Owner Jonathan Cho says he and his brother-in-law co-owner Jay Park fell in love with 18th Street and aim to bring to it their favorite kind of comfort food: ramen. Though there's no liquor here yet, the first-time restaurateurs hope to eventually have some late-night hours, too, to provide an alternative to the typical AdMo drunk fare of massive slices of pizza, falafel or McDonald's.
There are seven different types of ramen on the menu here, all customizable and all in a fusion style rather than traditional. Noodles are handmade and toppings include things like pork belly, bulgogi, kimchi and more. Sakuramen will offer a lighter broth than other ramen spots, Cho says, noting that the restaurant aims to stay as close to home cooking as possible. In addition to ramen, they've got pork buns, beef buns, gyoza and more kimchi.
The small space is mostly filled up by one long communal dining table, with a few banquettes lining one wall. Cho says the space will be brightly lit by day but dinner and pumping with music by night. They did their own decor, meaning the red walls are designed with cherry blossoms and wavy noodle-like lines, plus a mural upon entrance of the mythological Shoki.
They'll eventually be serving a slimmed-down ramen menu during late-night hours for those who are looking for sustenance other than jumbo slice or falafel. There's no liquor license yet, but the plan is to eventually serve beer and sake, though no full bar. Cho says that instead of focusing on how much alcohol they can sell, he wants the focus to be on the food. Dinner service begins today at 5 p.m. with lunch to roll out tomorrow.