At Basebowl, the new ramen shop that opened steps away from Nationals Park last week, one attention-grabbing bowl feels like the same type of stunt customers would find at a ballpark concessions stand.
A “Super Basebowl” ($38) fills an 18-inch bowl with 8 ounces of ribeye, jumbo shrimp, bean sprouts, corn, seaweed, purple cabbage, sugar snap peas, and agaric mushrooms. When a server brings the two-person portion to the table, they pour broth tableside from an attractive teapot.
“That’s us trying to represent ourselves with one dish — a giant bowl to share,” says restaurateur Leopold Liao, who also owns Chinese-leaning Reren Lamen & Bar in Chinatown and Beautea in Georgetown. Basebowl is big on visuals. In addition to the supersized ramen bowls, there are “Veggie Lover” gyoza that have a green hue thanks to matcha that’s folded into the dough. Matcha also makes its way into a cheesecake for dessert.
The 2,400-square-foot neighborhood noodle shop sits at the base of West Half, the mixed-use development from JBG Smith at 1201 Half Street SE. Popular NYC bakery Mah-Ze-Dahr and Atlas Brew Works are also tenants. Liao has ramen competition a few blocks away in Hatoba, the latest opening from the Sapporo-style ramen experts at Daikaya Group.
A Thai-leaning “Strike Out” ramen bowl contains a deconstructed spread of spicy coconut green curry with lemongrass and fried chicken on the side, inviting guests to dunk or drop in the poultry themselves so it doesn’t get soggy right away. Various broths made on-site (tomato beef, creamy shiitake mushroom, or traditional pork bone tonkotsu) also help build the opening ramen roster ($13-$17).
“We want people to taste the freshness and the unique flavors, and at the same time we don’t want to lose that traditional ramen taste,” Liao says.
For lunch there are bento boxes with karaage (Japanese fried chicken), smoked eel, and chicken teriyaki, served alongside rice, salad, and miso soup. Japanese-style snacks include edamame flanked with pink Himalayan salt, noodle-wrapped or tempura shrimp, and poke tuna nachos.
While Basebowl waits for a liquor license, which is about a month out, he’s calling the bar area the “water bar” lined with glass water bottles. For now there’s bubble and hot teas that made their way over from his tea shop in Georgetown.
New York-based ODA Architecture designed a sleek black and white space with capacity for 20 socially distant guests. The sound system plays everything from K-pop to hip-hop, and a huge TV wall will show Washington Nationals games and other sporting events. A spacious outdoor seating area flanked with heaters and an incoming fire pit has room for 45.
Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday with a 10 p.m. close Friday and Saturday and a 9:30 close Sunday. Takeout and delivery options will be available soon.