Akai Tori Ramen & Yakitori brings a taste of Tokyo to the heart of Vienna this winter.
Akai Tori, which translates to “red bird,” is scheduled to open on Saturday, January 28 (234 Maple Ave E., Vienna, Virginia).
The Japanese-styled izakaya specializes in ramen, donburi, tempura sushi, and street foods like yakitori (grilled skewers) seasoned with salt and tare with homemade sauces. Akai Tori comes from Mark Liu, the chef-owner behind Vienna’s acclaimed Sushi Yoshi.
The 3,000-square-foot standalone space was formerly home to Shin Se Kai Ramen, which closed about a year ago, and the big building has sat empty since. Long & Foster Real Estate brokers Shadi Ayyoubi and Erik Ulsaker negotiated the buyout of Shin Kai Ramen’s lease in an off-market deal.
Akai Tori will showcase an array of popular ramen styles, from Hakata tonkotsu to Sapporo-style miso—a silky and flavorful broth delicately prepared by hand for hours using a “secret recipe,” per a rep. Bowls of black garlic tonkotsu, shio, and black truffle-flavored shoyu packed with umami flavors are billed as its “must-try” ramens.
The bar will feature a curated crop of Japanese beers, sake, spirits, and cocktails. Service will run from 11:30 a.m. until as late as 11 p.m. on weekends, which is late by Vienna standards anyway (nearby fine-dining fixture Clarity, for instance, closes at 9 p.m.). Akai Tori’s hours are expected to expand to cater to “all the night owls” out there, striving to be a “go-to place if you need a little pick-me-up in the middle of the night,” per a rep.
Along with ramen, look for cheese bomb takoyaki, seared salmon belly nigiri, salmon sashimi katsu, salmon don, and bacon-wrapped mochi (Japanese rice cake). Creative sweets include a parfait made with matcha ice cream, warabi mochi, adzuki bean, and Pocky sticks; tempura ice cream; and mitarashi dango—skewered Japanese rice dumplings covered with a sweet soy sauce glaze.
A concession stand situated upon entry will be stocked with imported Japanese snacks and drinks for sale.
Restaurateur Cody Zhou, who owns several seafood boil spots across the DMV, is also a partner in the project. Zhou is gearing up to open a Mochinut in Reston in a franchise deal brokered by the same Long & Foster team.