Six Cool Japanese Noodle Dishes To Try This Summer
As elite athletes around the world are about to find out, Tokyo sweats in summer. That doesn’t stop the people who live there from ordering noodles year round. One of the most popular dishes, zaru soba, consists of lean, room-temperature buckwheat noodles nestled on a bamboo mat that you dip in a dashi-based broth. Eating the slippery noodles once they’re coated in tasty sauce requires Olympic-level chopstick skills, but it’s worth it. Even if you’re not loading up on carbs for the most important sporting event of your life, there are plenty of Japanese noodle dishes to try in Washington that are great for sipping in the summer. These six are among our favorites:
Cold soba with yellowtail flounder and salmon roe at Akira Ramen & Izakaya DC ($ 18)
2479 18th St. NW, (202) 588-1510, akiraramendc.com
Japanophiles in the DC area would do themselves a favor by paying a little more attention to Akira in Adams Morgan. In addition to various styles of ramen, they have dishes that are commonly found in Japanese pubs that make great snacks, like gyoza (dumplings) and street food like takoyaki (mushy orbs with pieces of octopus in the center).
Right now, you should turn to Akira’s selection of homemade cold soba noodles served with a dashi-based broth to which you can add wasabi and scallions for added flavor. Choose one that is topped with thickly sliced yellowtail sashimi and salmon roe, grated daikon radish, and ginger. Pour over the poached egg that comes to the side for the silky feel and add pickles for a bit of crunch. If you don’t want to soak, the employees say you can pour the sauce into the bowl, even if the mixture gets a little cloudy.
Hiyashi Chuka in Haikan ($ 8 for a small, $ 13.75 for a regular size portion)
805 V Street NW, (202) 299-1000, haikandc.com
The rainbow of typical garnishes for hiyashi chuka reminds the chef Katsuya Fukushima a chef’s salad. They consist of carefully arranged strips of egg pancakes, cucumber, ham, and imitation crab or shrimp. When he decided to introduce a version of cold ramen brew to Haikan in Shaw, he got a little more creative.
Fukushima serves the chilled noodles with cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, ground chicken, Sichuan oil and a dressing made with soy sauce and vinegar. Most of the restaurant’s very hot ramen bowls contain pork, which is why Fukushima went with chicken. He finds it difficult to understand why hiyashi chuka is not more popular at the moment.
“Cold noodles are very difficult to sell,” says Fukushima. “What you might think of as a cold pasta salad and when do you eat that in addition to picnics?” But I love this. It is refreshing. He vows to keep trying to convert people. “Maybe the Tokyo Olympics and the hot summer will trigger something.”
Truffle Shoyu Ramen at Menya Hosaki ($ 18)
845 Upshur St. NW, (202) 330-3977, menyahosakidc.com
If you’re going to swallow a steaming bowl of ramen in the sweltering heat, opt for a selection with a clear broth made from shio or shoyu instead of a heavier, creamier type like tonkotsu. Petworth’s Menya Hosaki dresses her shoyu ramen in a squirt of truffle oil that fits in perfectly and isn’t overwhelming at all. The restaurant comes from the chef and the owner Eric yoo, which makes the homemade noodles. Of all the eggs that go with ramen, Menya Hosaki wins. The texture of the yolk practically resembles that of a pudding and absorbs the smoke of the soup. Settle into the air conditioning and pair truffle shoyu ramen with a chilled Japanese beer.
Tempura Hiyashi Udon at Sushi Taro ($ 17)
1503 17th St. NW, (202) 462-8999, sushitaro.com
Sushi Taro introduced a new menu item two weeks ago that features homemade udon noodles from Dupont Circle restaurant. Chief Nobu Yamazaki says white wheat noodles have excellent chewing and are a bit longer than the store-bought variety.
“Udon and soba have been on the menu of every Japanese restaurant for so long, but most people only know about hot noodle soup when it comes to udon,” Yamazaki explains. “But there are many ways to eat udon and soba, depending on the weather. We would like to present you a summer dish.
Diners are supposed to pour the chilled soy-based broth over the noodles and “mix it all up,” according to Yamazaki. Sushi Taro serves tempura shrimp on the side. Diners can choose to place them on top of the cold soup or eat them separately between sips.
Yamazaki’s brother and business partner, Jin yamazaki, says diners should expect another cold dish to debut later this summer: cold soba noodles flavored with sudachi, a Japanese citrus fruit similar to lime. There’s also a cold somen noodle course included in Sushi Taro’s kaiseki tasting menu that includes grilled ayu, a small fish that pairs well with charcoal.
BLT Yakisoba in Hatoba ($ 14)
300, rue Tingey SE # 170, (202) 488-4800, hatobadc.com
The word yakisoba can be a bit confusing as the stir-fried noodles that are ubiquitous at street festivals in Japan don’t use delicate soba noodles that can’t handle the heat of a wok. Instead, yakisoba makers use wheat noodles that look like wavy ramen noodles. Hatoba simply reuses his ramen noodles from the Nishiyama noodle factory in Sapporo, Japan.
Chef Katsuya Fukushima has thought about adding a selection of yakisoba dishes to the Hatoba menu as the restaurant is located near the Nationals Park. He has fond memories of eating yakisoba at baseball games in Japan from plastic containers.
One take is inspired by a classic summer sandwich. “I wanted to do something relevant and a BLT is very relevant,” says Fukushima. The noodles are fried with applewood smoked bacon, charred romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, shio tare (a salt-based flavoring agent for ramen) and irregular stripes of Kewpie mayo, the biggest contribution. from Japan to the world of condiments.
“Regular yakisoba almost always contains cabbage, so I thought instead of cabbage let’s make lettuce,” Fukushima says. “I love wok lettuce.” When he created the dish, the tomatoes were in season. And the bacon seemed like a fun substitute for the other types of pork that usually go into yakisoba. “It’s becoming a BLT on a plate. He was born himself.
Bukkake Cold Soba in Rakuya ($ 9)
1900 Q St. NW, (202) 265-7258, rakuyarestaurant.com
If the soaking isn’t appealing, another style of cold soba noodles calls for arriving at the table already submerged in chilled dashi-based broth. Rakuya at Dupont Circle adds kinpira gobo (braised burdock root), green onions, kaiware shoots, eggs, bamboo shoots, tempura flakes for texture, and wasabi. While the toppings are vegetarian, the dashi is usually made with dried bonito flakes.
This dish is not currently on the menu, but a partner Marcel The says he will be back for July and August. Like most of Rakuya’s menus, the bukkake cold soba dish is great value at $ 9. A friendly atmosphere and generous portions help to wrap Rakuya with the neighborhood regulars.