Years after he hatched the idea, Bullfrog Bagels founder Jeremiah Cohen has introduced ramen and other soups to the menu.
Cohen’s ramen ($9) departs from convention with a base of smoky poultry stock. House-made egg noodles, pastrami, vegetables and seasonings are perched in the bowl awaiting a vigorous swirl that turns the broth the hue of a red-orange sunset.
The color comes from harissa, a peppery North African condiment that’s paired with earthy green chermoula, a Moroccan marinade. Sauerkraut and escarole replace traditional bok choy. Instead of pork belly or tofu, the featured protein is pastrami, which releases its coriander and black pepper coating into the broth to layer the flavor. Caraway seeds are a sunken surprise, combining with the pastrami to evoke the classic deli sandwich.
Cohen was thinking about ramen as early as 2014, when he opened the original Bullfrog Bagels (1341 H St. NE). Time, place and circumstance aligned to begin serving the dish just last month.
When the second Bullfrog Bagels debuted near Eastern Market (317 7th St. SE), Cohen finally had his own kitchen for research and development. The shared space on H Street wasn’t conducive to the task. The last issue was adding a staff member with primary responsibility for soups — a sticking point resolved by bringing on assistant Adrienne Grove.
With all the pieces finally in place, his soup project was ready to come off the back burner. “When the flavors and textures came together as a balanced dish, I thought about what to call it and ramen was the natural name,” Cohen said.
His matzo ball soup ($6) is another nonconformist affair. Gone are bubbe’s classic vegetables and the option to add chicken or noodles. Re-enter the smoky poultry broth, which is guaranteed to catch traditionalists’ attention.
The matzo ball is fashioned for Goldilocks. Not too dense and not self-consciously fluffy, it strikes an appealing middle ground. Made from scratch, it’s infused with vodka, which adds subtle flavor and influences the texture.
The two standard bearers are served alongside rotating daily selections that include potato leek, broccoli cheddar, and pasta e fagioli (each $6). The soups are served only at the Eastern Market location from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursday through Sunday.