This is a quick view of Toki Underground, one of the most well-known and established ramen restaurant in D.C. That’s because I did not eat at the restaurant – the restaurant itself is tiny and it is highly advised to reserve a seat online before arriving. I did, however, got a takeout order of the famous curry ramen. Toki Underground is on the second floor (contrary to it’s name) in southwest D.C. It isn’t exactly easy to get here without car, as the metro doesn’t run here and the bus I took made a lot of stops before arriving. I’m unfamiliar with D.C., and the area seems pretty rough; it is probably safe around the restaurant, but I wouldn’t walk around aimlessly at night.
If you are looking for authentic ramen, look elsewhere. Toki Underground’s Taiwanese owners gave a twist to what ramen are by introducing a curry base soup. The results might have been mind blowing to many, but I grew up in South East Asia, where curry base noodle soup is a staple of average joe’s diet. Nonetheless, the noodle are “qq”, or al dente in Italian, and executed well. The curry soup isn’t too spicy and was delicious. The best part, though, is the lightly fried chicken pieces, which retain the oil and made them juicy.
How far can you deviate from a ramen to still call it ramen? To me, ramen is not a dish with fixed ingredients; the inventor of instant noodle, Nissin, brought the world hundreds of different flavor noodles, all cooked under 3 minutes. Sure, it must have the yellow springy noodle in a soup, but I think that’s all to it. Many people will say that the Taipei curry chicken ramen is not authentic, but I’m the sort of guy who love a sunny side up in my burger, so I’ll continue to ignore them. Names and categories are all but a construct – what matters most is the taste, and I think Toki underground impressed me. I’ll come back someday, and most likely in broad daylight with a reservation.
Visited: November 28th, 2015 at 8pm for dinner. (Takeout)
Address: 2nd, 1234 H Street NE, Washington D.C. 20002