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Jul 25, 2007 04:25 PM

Ramen-ya/Udon-ya in NoVA?

I've been craving a really good bowl of nabeyaki udon, or a wonderfully porky bowl of ramen like you can get at places like Sapporo in Manhattan. Anyone know of somewhere in NoVA where you can get a good authentic bowl of noodles? The best I've found so far has been the nabeyaki at Akasaka (which isn't as good a bowl as it one was) and the ramen at Maneki Neko, but neither is as good as I've had in NY.

Manekineko Japanese Restaurant
238 W Broad St, Falls Church, VA 22046

Akasaka Japanese Restaurant
514 S Van Dorn St, Alexandria, VA 22304

152 W 49th St, New York, NY 10019

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  1. I've not been, but other Chowhounds have mentioned Blue Ocean in Fairfax as being the best Japanese in NoVa. They have what you are looking for.

    Blue Ocean
    9440 Main St, Fairfax, VA 22031

    1. I've eaten a few times at Sapporo, and Blue Ocean in Fairfax prepares a good bowl of ramen like Sapporo.

      5 Replies
      1. re: dpan

        Been to blue ocean for ramen for a couple of times. I know many folks like the blue ocean but I found it not all that great. It wasn't bad, it was just not good. I think it cost around $10 per a small bowl.

        1. re: dpan

          So, I swung by Blue Ocean yesterday for lunch, and was disappointed to see that it's really just a Japanese place that has a "ramen of the day" item on the menu, rather than an actual ramen-ya. I ordered the ramen, which turned out to be a shoyu ramen on that day, along with some sushi, and they were both not that great--the sushi was pretty mediocre, actually, and the ramen was good but (even for shoyu ramen) way too salty. (It might mean something that their website is; if I'm not mistaken, an izakaya is a bar that happens to serve food, and I could definitely see my bowl of ramen being a lot more enjoyable at the end of a night of drinking.)

          I'd probably eat there if I was in the area again, but I definitely wouldn't go out of my way to go there. So if anyone else has suggestions for other places for a good bowl of ramen, I'm still looking... (I'm open to suggestions in DC or MD as well, although those would become "destination" meals and thus need to be a cut above.)

          1. re: sweth

            I've heard of japanese grocery stores in Montgomary C. that has a food court with good ramen but I've not been. I've so far given up on finding ramen in NOVA. I satisfy my craving when I'm in NY or SF. BTW, if you are ever in SF, look for Santa ramen. Arguably the best ramen in the states.

            1. re: sweth

              I had dinner at Blue Ocean Friday night and they have a half page of the menu devoted to ramen and udon preparations. Maybe they have a reduced menu at lunch? You can always inspect the website. They also have a Japanese-only menu, I've heard, and this may be where some of the gold is. I had a bowl of nabeyaki ramen (they serve the tempura on the side, for you to include as you like). It is a small bowl, as Soup said, and though it's been a while, I prefer Daruma in Bethesda. Maybe you should try there.

              1. re: Steve

                Hmm... the website does have a much more extensive menu for dinner than lunch, but while they have a dozen varieties of udon and soba on that menu, there's still just a single entry for an unspecified style of ramen (which would fit with the "ramen of the day" explanation that I got when I was there on Friday for lunch). I don't see a nabeyaki ramen on either menu; was it on a specials menu or something? (Or did you mean nabeyaki udon? I've actually never heard of a nabeyaki ramen before, athough I'd be interested in trying it.)

                I'll check out Daruma the next time in Bethesda, though.

          2. am glad you posed that question. Now I know where to go in NOVA...I live in Montgomery County, though...other than Temari and Daruma, has anyone had decent ramen any place else, wasn't crazy about the ramen at Temari, though...I ate at Sapporo and Menkuite in NYC...I liked the ramen at Menkuite better than Sapporo, but both surpass what exits here.....

            1. Moving an old post back to current—what do we know about NoVa Ramen now?

              6 Replies
              1. re: Kris in Beijing

                I doubt it's improved any in NoVa. Tachibana in McLean is a full restaurant that gets some respect, and I think they have ramen at lunch only. But I have never been.

                SInce my post above, I have not been impressed with the noodles 9or anything else) at Blue Ocean.


                1. re: Steve

                  I finally tried the tonkotsu version of ramen at Tachibana, and it is not good at all.

                2. re: Kris in Beijing

                  If there's good ramen in NoVA, I haven't found it, and I've been looking since 2007 as well. Once a month, I'll take my Japanese mom for a grocery trip to Maruichi in Rockville and we'll do ramen downstairs at Temari. Or we'll hit Joe's Noodle House; not Japanese ramen, but it gets the job done.

                  In NoVA, I think your best bet are the Korean noodles. The woo dong at Hunan Deli is as close as I've gotten to decent Japanese udon; the noodles are nice and thick with a good bite.


                  1. re: Kris in Beijing

                    In a more "street food" style: Has anyone tried the food at the prepped counters at Global Foods Woodbridge?
                    Or H-Mart on Lee HWY?

                    I'm always zooming into those places on my way to somewhere else just to grab a bottle of sauce or a particular peculiar vegetable and I can't sit down and eat.

                    But, when you walk in, it Smells Right so I have hope.

                    1. re: Kris in Beijing

                      There is now Tanpopo Ramen in the same plaza as A&J in Annandale (Markham Street and 236). I've eaten there twice. They have both ramen and sushi. The Berkshire pork slices in the ramen are quite nice. I don't have a lot of basis for comparison, but it was a LOT better than the Sapporo in Manhattan that we visited in August. They offer 3 different broth variants.

                      They offer some lunch specials, your choice of a small appetizer/side dish with a bowl of ramen. We all opted for the grilled salmon rice ball. The salmon was a shioyaki (salt-grilled) preparation,with a generous chunk in the onigiri.

                      1. re: PollyG

                        Thanks for the update. I may be able to hit Annandale this week or next.

                    2. I have not had any good ramen in Northern Virginia.
                      I have had good ramen at Toki Underground, Ren's Ramen, and surprisingly, the Pig.

                      There will be a ramen joint opening up soon called Daikaya in DC.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: discojing

                        HA!! I've been dying to check out The Pig for one reason - the pig ramen. I'm delighted to hear that you liked it. I've got to get there to check it out!

                        1. re: discojing

                          I second Toki Underground. Then a trip downstairs to the Pug for beers . . . .

                          1. re: discojing

                            And also Sakuramen in Adams Morgan, and the People's Noodle in Columbia Heights. Both quite good, though I think Toki's better.
                            Ramen is quite the trend these days.