After our stop in at Edgar, we still felt a little peckish. Official Friends of DCWD Burgh and Flo alerted us to a brand new ramen joint that had just opened down the street from their house. How about some takeout and HIMYM? How about yes?
It's interesting to me that, if Toki signals the oncoming ramen revolution about to take over DC, that two of its first spots would open up within a city block of one another; after all, Taan sits just down the street from recently opened Sakuramen. Where that restaurant opted for traditional Japanese, Taan went with the current restaurant trend: rustic and refurbished farmhouse. To wit, all of the restaurant's decorations from the antique cash register and red doors on the wall behind the bar to the mason jars and crates on wooden shelves hammered into the exposed brick come from an estate in West Virginia.
Seating consists of an eight-seat bar to the left of the restaurant with a series of two-top and four-top high tables in the front and right side of the restaurant. In the rear of the restaurant is a set of stairs to a second floor landing, though the bartender reveals this is just overflow space; the idea is that those waiting for a seat can wait with their drinks up there. Not a bad idea (one almost wishes Toki had a similar system, given the quality of their drinks and the wait times).
Being the people that we are, Texas opts for a vegetarian ramen, while I go with the Maze-Men, which can best be described as "throw everything in the bowl" soup. The former is a beet-based soup, with tomato, charred corn, purple potato, baby carrots, shichimi, basil oil, beet pickles, and a yuzu creme fraiche. Texas very much is leery of all things beet, so it was surprising how much she enjoyed her bowl, considering how forward the beet flavor was. "Yup, this basically just tastes like really good beets," was everyone's opinion. Still, I don't want to sell it short: the vegetables were solid, the tomato and corn particularly surprising and refreshing.
Mine, like I said, was a everything-but-the-sink dish: pork belly, duck confit, chicken confit, pickled cucumber, tomato, charred corn, scallions, woodear mushrooms, mustard greens, chilis, nori, and egg yolk. Curiously, the one thing it does not come with is broth; instead, it's intentionally given a small amount which wets the whole thing, but makes it a little less than a soup. Still, there are many brilliant things to love about this dish: the deliciously seared pork belly, the brilliant nuggets of charred corn, the mustard greens that make me want to eat just them forever. It's one weakness is the poultry: the confits are a little dry and seem out of place. Burgh and Flo point out that their previous visit was for the Triple Stock, a dish that includes all the things I liked about the Maze-Men and none of the things I don't. Noted.
Delicious. A less crowded, poor man's version of Toki.
Food Rating: **** (out of 5)
Date Rating: 3.5 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code: Casual
Bar Rating: Quiet Drinks
Cost: $$ (out of 5) ($25-$50 for two)