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The Early Word on Yona in Ballston

"The noodles are perfectly cooked and chewy, but the broth was so salty I actually avoided sipping on it."

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R. Lopez

Yona finally opened in Ballston last month after several pop-ups and lots of anticipation. The ramen restaurant is a collaboration between Johan Kim (an alum of the now closed Pabu in Baltimore) and owner Mike Isabella. The design combines Japanese minimalism with lots of wood paneling and mosaic whale wall tiles.

Noodles are the focus, but the menu also has pork buns, donburi rice bowls, chicken wings, and several other dishes. The restaurant already has 31 Yelp reviews with an overall rating of three stars. Read on for the early word on Yona:

The Comparison News: The comparisons to other local ramen hotspots is inevitable. Instagrammer @devon_bark says, "[it] doesn't beat @daikayadc, but convenience (and the ability to make an online reservation…) are bonuses." Yelper Kaley P. writes, "we can definitely get cheaper and better at Toki or Marumen," and Foursquare user Josh Young declares "Long way to go before equalling Toki Underground." [Instagram, Yelp, FS]

The Novel Japanese Sodas News: Yona has an extensive drink menu complete with cocktails, sake, beer, and wine, but diners seem most excited about the Japanese sodas. Yelper Christiane V. says, "i love little novelties like that. try the yogurt/cream flavor." Yelper Eni M. asks, "And how can you go wrong with the MELON CREAM SODA like nothing you've experienced before? That's right. You can’t." Instagrammer @tianevo thinks the Japanese cream soda is "delicious."  [Yelp, Instagram]

The Not-So-Porky Ramen News: The "miso porky" ramen flavored with miso tare appears to be one of the more popular items so far. Washingtonian calls it "robust," but Yelper Sandy H. writes, "Miso-y, yes. Porky? No. That part needs work on." Blogger Bad Sentences says, "[it] definitely had a strong essence of miso that I found very enjoyable. It also had the slightest bit of spice from the kimchi topping." [Washingtonian, Yelp, Bad Sentences]

The So Salty Tonkotsu Ramen News: The tonkotsu-shoyu tare ramen is another popular item, but it's getting lots of complaints about the salt levels. Don Rockwell forum poster astrid writes, "Will not go back, ever, for the really salty and badly cooked noodles." Blogger Bad Sentences says the ramen is "very smoky, with ginger being the predominant flavor. It was good, but a touch too salty" Yelper Amber G. writes "SO salty. The noodles are perfectly cooked and chewy, but the broth was so salty I actually avoided sipping on it." [DR, Bad Sentences, Yelp]

The Best Dish on the Menu News: Yelper Thomas C. thinks the uni waffle topped with ikura, caviar, and taramasalata is the best dish on the menu. He writes,"the waffle was light and fluffy, and the caviar and the taramasalata went great together." Yelper David N. writes, "The ratio of roe and uni to the waffle base was perfect! " and Instagrammerchongrich says it was "surprisingly dericious [sic]." [Yelp, Instagram]

The Delightful Fluke Crudo News: Don rockwell forum poster astrid particularly likes the fluke crudo with sour coconut, dehydrated shiso, cherries, and lemon and. Instagrammer @hendersoncox also says it’s "so delicious," but Yelper Ethan C. writes, "Don't order the fluke - it is tasteless and the coconut sauce was the highlight of a fish dish..." [DR, Instagram, Yelp]

The Super Crispy Wings News: Foursquare user DC Dining Adventures writes, "Great balance of sweet & spicy in the Dry-fried Wings made with fresh chilies, maltose, aged rice vinegar." Instagrammer @nanceefancee says the wings are a must-order item and Yelper Lia M. writes, "The wings and drumsticks were huge and approached BonChon levels of crispness. I'd definitely recommend those." [FS, Instagram, Yelp]

The Light and Delicious Desserts News: Instagrammer @nanceefancee really likes the cream puffs for dessert, and Yelper Kevin K. says, "They were so incredibly light and delicious." Yelper Felicity D.writes, "AND HOLY MOLY!!! I LOVE THEIR ICE CREAM!" and Yelper James C. says the black sesame flavor is "special." [Instagram, Yelp]


4000 Wilson Blvd Ste C, Arlington, VA 22203 (703) 465-1200 Visit Website