Monday, April 04, 2011
Toki Underground, DC
Since I happened to be going to a show in DC Friday night, I decided to drop in to new ramen place, Toki Underground, which was having it's grand opening on H Street in the Atlas District.
They describe themselves as a Taiwanese ramen restaurant, but when you walk in, they greet you with "irasshaimase", the Japanese greeting. Ramen is originally a Chinese dish, and I do understand the distinction between native Taiwanese and Chinese, but a Japanese greeting in a Taiwanese place is a bit odd.
So I started with a cocktail from their fun sounding drink menu. I got the Toki Monster, made with Bulliet bourbon, pepper honey liqueur, Peat Monster scotch, and topped with a skewer of pork belly. It was a good mix pairing the warm salty fatty pork with the bourbon. They also serve Mr. Brown, a Taiwanese ice coffee, Ramune, Calpico, and Apple Sidra.
I started with an order of Taiwanese style cold tofu. It's covered with shaved bonito and a thick soy sauce. It was good. I wonder if the chef considered adding thousand year egg to the dish.
I tried a small side of their kimchee, which was actually pretty fresh. Not too bad either.
I knew I wanted to try some of their dumplings as they make them from scratch. You can order various fillings and there is the option of having them steamed, pan fried, or deep fried. I decided for the staple- steamed pork dumplings. You get 6 dumplings in a small bamboo steamer. The skins were good. I think I tasted ginger in the pork, and the whole group is covered with a tare sauce, which is a like a thick soy sauce. In a lot of Chinese places they have cabbage on the bottom of the steamer, but in this case, it was cheesecloth. Because they kept the place pretty dark, I almost ate this.
I would say my favorite dish was their ramen. I ordered their Toki Hakata classic ramen, which came with nori, sesame seeds, pickled ginger, char siu pork, and a sousvide egg. The broth, made with pork bones, was flavorful, and the noodles they use are quite good as well. The sousvide egg was pretty awesome, but I do like my pork a little more fatty.
For dessert, I had the milk & cookies. The chocolate chip cookies were baked fresh and were still warm. It was served with some ice cold milk.
I would say Toki is good, but I'm not sure if it's worth a long wait. With ramen & dumplings, I expect a quick turnaround for seating, but I heard wait times were up to 3 hours. Hopefully, over time, they will get into a groove.