Say goodbye to the Ramen you once knew. Toki Underground located on the up and coming H Street, opens the eyes of all diners who have all had at least one experience with Ramen noodles; whether it was in college, after college when that job just wasn’t paying enough, or even in the first year of marriage when that recipe you tried just didn’t quite work out. We’re all used to, and some quite fond of the chicken or even the oriental flavors of the beloved three ounce meal in a bowl. The fanciest anyone has ever gotten has been adding frozen mixed vegetables and some hot sauce.
Chef Erik Bruner-Yang does an amazing job creating a hip yet elusive atmosphere that sets the palate up for a memorable meal. As popular as Toki is, part of its charm is the intimate spacing, with the restaurant located upstairs, the only thing “underground” about Toki is the ambiance and persona. Shadowy lighting and blue graffiti stained brick wall follows you up the stairs to the alluring eatery that seats around 20 diners. With that being said, waiting for a seat can get lengthy and large parties are not recommended, make sure to call ahead to gauge how long the wait is, and if it’s too long, call in for carry out (except for Saturdays).
First on deck; chicken dumplings ($5/half dozen, with your choice of fried, pan fried or steamed). The dumplings were served with a delicious house spice mixture that starts sweet and finishes with a subtle kick.
Entrees up; Kimchi ($12) this dish comes with pulled pork, delicious veggies, and locally made kimchi. The broth is seasoned beautifully and toys with your taste buds as you try to guess each flavor that you’re tasting. In addition to the delicious dishes is a well-rounded drink menu that ranges from beers to sake. The sake varieties seem infinite, especially when you’re not an expert, luckily, the waitress was very helpful in suggesting a sake that paired well with the Kimchi. An order of Hakushika Kuromatsu Junmai Ginjo ($15) came by the bottle and had enchanting citrus notes in the beginning and a clean finish that paired well with the spiciness of the dish. Add-ons to dishes like Kae-dama (extra noodles-$2) or Chashu Pulled Pork ($3) are available to maximize your Taiwanese Ramen experience.
Leaving Toki is a bittersweet experience because in the back of your mind, you now know that the little fulfillment packaged Ramen achieved, has vanished; however it is reassuring to know you can always walk upstairs to Toki Underground.