The Daikaya Group is opening its fourth D.C. ramen shop tonight, expanding to Navy Yard with a restaurant that will sell variations of Sapporo-style bowls like tomato curry and red miso clam.
Hatoba (300 Tingey Street SE #170) means “wharf” or “dock” in Japanese. The business, which starts serving dinner tonight at 5 p.m. and will open for lunch tomorrow, comes from Daisuke Utagawa, chef Katsuya Fukushima, and Yama Jewayni, the partners that own and operate Daikaya and Bantam King in Chinatown and Haikan in Shaw.
Utagawa says that Hatoba will separate itself from the group’s other restaurants by integrating familiar Japanese flavor combinations into bowls of soup.
“We wouldn’t base a new restaurant out of something that was slightly different than what we did before,” Utagawa says. “When you read [the menu], it might seem like it’s nuanced, but when you taste it you will see they’re quite bold flavors. There’s no mistaking. We’re not really splitting hairs.”
Utagawa was born and raised in Tokyo, and started his culinary career as a sushi chef. He grew up going to markets and fishmongers with his grandmother and watching her cook at home.
He’s confident Hatoba will be a balanced blend of nostalgia and new inventions. The vegan tomato curry ramen is a perfect example.
“Is it traditional? Not really. But is it so bastardized? Not really at all,” Utagawa says. “A lot of Japanese people taste it and they say, ‘Wow, this is familiar in a very comfortable way — It’s a very comforting taste.’”
The bowl is part of a three-dimensional menu of shokuhin sampuru, or artificial display foods.
Utagawa says red miso clam ramen, a bit of an unorthodox dish, is his favorite right now. There will also be a spicy red miso, yuzo shio, and garlic shoyu broths.
“Red miso is not very commonly used in ramen in Japan,” Utagawa says, “but red miso with clam is kind of one of those classic combinations for miso soup, and we wanted to use that idea and develop ramen around it.”
Hatoba also boasts a bar program that pays homage to the origins of the Boilermaker Building with a heavy lineup of cans. Hatoba will have two beers on draft. Everything else — beers, wines, and cocktails — comes from a can.
The Boilermaker Building was first constructed from 1917 to 1919 as a facility that built boilers for Navy ships. The 2,200-square-foot Hatoba space, designed by Edit Lab at Streetsense, is lined with soup bowls and features three levels of glowing lanterns behind floor-to-ceiling windows that make up the front facade. With a location near Nationals Park, the restaurant also features design nods to a pro baseball team in Sapporo, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters.
In addition to seating for 50 people inside, Hatoba has a patio with room for 30.
By advancing to the National League Championship Series, the Nationals have allowed Hatoba to catch a small piece of baseball traffic. The St. Louis Cardinals will visit D.C. for NLCS Games 3 and 4 on Monday and Tuesday.
The new shop will soon have ramen competition in the area. The owner of Reren Lamen & Bar in Chinatown is opening a shop called Basebowl on Half Street SE.