New ramen shop Haikan finally swung its doors open Saturday in Shaw, delivering the neighborhood a unique new ramen option.
Like sister restaurant Daikaya, Haikan serves Sapporo-style ramen, but each soup has its own subtle differences. These Japanese noodles are the real deal, native to Sapporo where 1,000 ramen shops reside.
Haikan's housed in the Atlantic Plumbing Building and its interior design is a throwback to the Brutalist-style architecture in D.C. The idea is to revive that dying breed, as well as pay homage to the concurring Metabolism era in Japan (bathroom posters depict the 1960s structures).
Chef Katsuya Fukushima is the man behind the menu, and he says of his creative process: "I keep a dry erase marker in the bathroom and wake up and remember something, scribble it and go back to bed."
The vegetarian bowl is topped with a crisp lotus root that isn't available at Daikaya. The ramen options also include Shio, Shoyu, or a lighter Miso. Ramen is the star of the show, but don't skimp on the starters ($8-$10). A sampling: Fukushima's "deconstructed" deviled egg topped with salmon roe, cast iron smoky mussels with seaweed butter (use the shell as a spoon, he instructs), crab rangoon, and Mapo Tofu Poutine. The old school semicircular concrete wall behind the bar creates perfectly-shaped nooks for liquors, which are used in playful cocktails like the Wasabi Peas (made with real snowpeas). This spot's got more sake and booze selections than its other siblings. Pregame alert: Haikan's a stone's throw from the 9:30 Club.
Haikan follows the team's recent debut of Japanese chicken ramen shop Bantam King. First up is dinner service only, seven nights a week, with brunch and lunch to follow.
Haikan, 805 V St. NW; website