With winter weather still ravaging D.C., soup season doesn’t appear to be over anytime soon. A flurry of D.C. restaurants are unleashing unusual ramen creations and promotions — think giant foam noodle decor, doctored up instant ramen, and late-night parties — to warm up fans inside. Here are six spots to get your slurp on now. For D.C.’s go-to ramen guide, go here.
705 6th Street NW
Chinatown’s ramen mainstay throws a playful version of industry night (with public welcome) in its upstairs izakaya room every Sunday from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. “Late Night at 2F” is experimental hot bed for chef Katsuya Fukushima to whip up a creative lineup of rotating dishes and ramen specials. Recent offerings have included a twist on instant ramen and Tantanmen (a Japanese take on Sichuan Dan Dan noodles), served alongside Japanese sake, beer, shochu, and whiskey cocktails from beverage director Monica Lee. Team Daikaya is getting ready to announce details on a sister eatery arriving next door.
The brand new chef’s special at the Los Angeles-based ramen chain is going green for St. Patrick’s Day and through the spring. The Green Monster, available from Friday, March 1 through the end of May at all locations, features green chicken broth, chicken chashu, green onions, crispy kale, crispy onions, and green kale noodles. Last summer Jinya’s portfolio of Fairfax and Logan Circle restaurants grew with the addition of an outpost in Rockville’s Pike & Rose complex, complete with a sleek Suntory Toki machine used to whip up whiskey highballs.
1720 14th Street NW
NYC’s months-old meatball import is wrapping up its first winter in D.C. by releasing its ramen noodle-stuffed pork spheres. Executive chef Dan Sharp adds ramen noodles directly into the pork meatball mixture, then lets them float atop a light ramen broth adorned with minced pork, mushrooms, sprouts, kabocha squash, and seaweed. Expect the inventive order ($15) to stick around for about a month. Add its “Swift Kick” hot sauce to turn up the heat.
2214 Rhode Island Avenue NE
The year-old grilled Japanese skewers shop in Woodridge tacked on an unlikely offering inside its basement bar last spring: college dorm staple Cup Noodles. The everyday ramen gets upgraded with roasted pork belly and nitamago, a soft-boiled egg marinated in Momo’s smoky tare. Rotating selections on hand include Myojo Ippei-chan yakisoba and Nongshim’s lobster and shin bowls.
7101 Democracy Boulevard, Bethesda, Md.
The Baltimore noodle house — pronounced “e-gee” — debuted its second location inside Bethesda’s Westfield Montgomery Mall food court last fall, complete with umami-filled ramen bowls starring quirky flavors like truffle miso butter sauce. Chef Ten Vong draws from his Malaysian heritage to create Ejji’s lineup of Asian-inspired comfort foods, like a mac and cheese “ramen” hot dog that’s tempura battered, fried, and served with apricot wasabi mustard. Head to its five-year-old Baltimore birthplace for brunch, complete with $3 mimosas and a pork sausage and egg-packed breakfast ramen bowl featuring a savory bacon corn broth.
Uzu at Cherry Blossom Pub
1843 7th Street NW
For its latest pop-up gig, an up-and-coming name in the ramen world wants eaters to imagine they’re swimming in a giant ramen bowl in Shaw. Drink Company’s annual tribute to the pink flowers that bloom once a year features a back room starring soup, slinging vegan miso broth and noodles from Hiro Mitsui (who runs a stall in Union Market). Ramen-themed decor includes foam noodles wiggling out of the walls and 8-foot chopsticks hanging from the ceiling, joined by blown-up mock toppings like pork belly and fish cakes and a Top Ramen mural by artist Andrew Funk.