The Dish: Ramen Goes Gourmet

by WL Author

Toki Underground on H Street elevates Taiwanese noodles to the next level.

By Nevin Martell

When you think ramen, you probably think of the cheap, MSG-ridden noodles long-favored by broke college students. Now the Taiwanese street food is getting a seriously awesome upgrade at the newly opened Toki Underground on H Street. It’s the brainchild/lovechild of chef-owner Erik Bruner-Yang, who honed his chops at Kushi and Sticky Rice, before spending a month in Taiwan perfecting his skills cooking the classic Asian noodle dish.

Right now, there are five types of ramen: Toki Hakata Classic, Curry Chicken Hakata, Miso Hakata, Kimchi Ramen and Masumi Vegetarian ($10 each). If you can take the heat, ask for a dollop of the homemade sriracha sauce, Toki Endorphin ($1.50). There are also pork, beef, chicken, seafood or vegetarian dumplings available ($5 for a half dozen), which go down nicely with a sparkling Apple Sidra soda or an ice cold Hey Song sarsaparilla ($2 each). If you’re looking for something a little harder, get the Toki Monster, which marries Bulleit Bourbon, pepper honey liqueur and mist of Peat Monster scotch before topping it off with a skewer of kushiyaki porkbelly ($10).

While you’re chowing and chugging, make sure you keep your ears open to the phenomenal soundtrack. Brian Weitz of – tripped out indie popsters Animal Collective – is a partner in the venture and contributed all the playlists loaded on the restaurant’s iPod.

Be prepared for a wait before you eat, because Toki Underground doesn’t take reservations and is first come, first serve. If you want to gauge how long you’ll be hanging out before you eat, give the eatery a buzz before you head out at (202) 388-3086.

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