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Jan 28, 2008 11:21 AM

Japanese Food in NoVa/DC


I was curious if any chowhound folks have suggestions for quality Japanese food in the NoVa/DC area (I'm based out of Falls Church).

In particular I'm looking for Good Ramen/Udon and Okonomiyaki.

I've tried Maneki Neko and tried the Udon. While decent and worth the cash I wasn't over whelmed. I heard of Blue Ocean in Fairfax, curious if anyone has any reviews of the Ramen/Udon there.

As for Okonomiyaki I have yet to find a place that has it yet.

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    1. I usually go to Tachibana in McLean. Have been going for over a decade since they moved from arlington. They have great tempura udon. They probably have the best tempura in this area.

      Although Tachibana is great, there are other japanese options within that area. Has anyone tried any of the other options?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Chownut

        Tachibana has good sushi, but their udon is very meh. I hate to say it, but Akasaka might still be my udon of choice, although I still haven't gotten around to trying Daruma.

      2. I prefer Daruma in Bethesda to Blue Ocean (as far as ramen/udon is concerned). I hear there is a Japanese-only menu at Blue Ocean with items that are not on the English menu, but I can't confirm.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Steve

          We "discovered" Blue Ocean recently on a friend's recommendation. Maybe our new favorite Japanese restaurant?

          I really liked the ramen, but I've still not been to Daruma. My only complaint about the bowl was that they gave me one measly, thin piece of pork. But I look forward to going back and seeing if the soy sauce broth is consistently good (I've noticed inconsistency in some other places that I like.)

          Japanese menu: Yes, they have a menu of Japanese specials that are not available on the printed English menu (also a daily English specials board). I noticed just as we were finishing up. It was fairly extensive, but appeared to be mainly different kinds of grilled fishes. Probably set meals given the prices of around $16: maybe a piece of fish accompanied by soup, rice, pickles,etc.? But I'll investigate more when we go back.

          We tried the ramen, takoyaki (savory dough balls with octopus), yakitori (chicken skewers) and katsudon (fried pork cutlet and egg on rice). Everything was fine. The takoyaki, a special for the day, were very well done. Would have like a bit more sauce, but they had a good flavor and were not soggy or undercooked, as they can be sometimes.

          Re. the udon question that initiated this thread: they offer Udon with a choice of traditional toppings (tempura, or grated yam; etc.) About 6 different choices, I think. It may be worth trying it out given the quality that I felt was represnted in our items. We're looking forward to going back for cold soba on a hot summer day.

          Did not notice okonomiyaki on the menu, but I wouldn't be surprised if it turns up on the English specials menu from time to time.

          1. re: takajin

            most things on the english menu can be ordered "teishoku" which is basically a set meal. protein of some form, sashimi, rice and 3 small bowls of "stuff". sometimes it's pickles, sometimes is oden, sometimes it's dumplings, sometimes it's vegetables. it changes constantly. All of the teriyaki's can be done teishoku. same with tonkatsu and various grilled fish.

        2. Sadly, the choices are limited for Ramen and nearly non-existent for okonomiyaki in my DC experience.

          The only ramen I've had in DC that would be worth going back for was at Sushi Taro in Dupont Circle. They do a weekday lunch ramen from about September through March. Other places do strange ramen/udon hybrids, where it's ramen noodles in a dashi broth, no pork belly, etc.. Blechh!!! I've not yet been to Daruma or another place in Rockville (name escaping me) for their ramen.

          Udon: I've had decent bowls of Udon at various Japanese restaurants in DC, including Tachibana's.

          Okonomiyaki: The only place that I'm aware of that currently has okonomiyaki on their menu is Snap Crepe in Georgetown. We went in to try it, but the person who cooks it was not on duty and the fried smell was so overwhelming in the place that we haven't been back yet.

          I'd love it if the "ramen-aissance" taking over NYC would make it's way to DC eventually.

          5 Replies
          1. re: takajin

            This is only once a year, but the Japanese street festival that's a part of the Cherry Blossom festival has okonomiyaki and takoyaki (and oden, something else that's not all that common around here). It's on April 12 this year.

            One thing that makes the NYC "ramen-aissance" possible is the large number of Japanese who live in that area. The Japanese population here is relatively small, so I wouldn't hold my breath for more variety (although I would love to see it).

            The other place you mentioned in Rockville is probably Temari Cafe.

            1. re: Lori D

              You're right on these points, but one can surely dream :-)

              I've never noticed the okonomiyaki and takoyaki stands at the festival before. Must be because of the crazy lines when I've gone in the past. I'd love if someoe would up a Kasu-tera stand at the festival. I'd stand in line for hours for those donut delights. Don't tell me they have those too and I've missed them!

            2. re: takajin

              I concur with taka: Sushi Taro has the only halfway decent ramen in the D.C. area. Don't bother with Temari Cafe in Rockville -- or Daruma in Bethesda.

              1. re: bakagaijin

                i actually LIKE Temari! their katsu curry is my favorite comfort food. and the grilled mackerel or smelt... with a side of their potato salad (yes, pathetic, i know.)... makes a great meal.

                but man-oh-man...i would KILL for some takoyaki right nowl

                1. re: bou

                  Temari's katsu curry does indeed rock, bou. I get hungry just thinkin' 'bout it.

            3. Hatta: I've since been to Maneki Neko (finally) and they seem to usually have okonomiyaki on their daily specials board. At least the few times I've been there so far they've had it on the board. It sounds like Maneki Neko is decent stand-in for you and so it might be worth trying there.

              2 Replies
              1. re: takajin

                The wife and I had the udon from Maneki Neko's stand at sakura matsuri last year. It was basically a bland broth with not many very crappy udon noodles. The yakisoba blew, too.

                1. re: bakagaijin

                  I'd recommend giving the restaurant a shot as I can imagine that quality suffers at a street festival with high volume and limited capacity.

                  Having said that, I won't pretend it's the best Japanese restaurant in the area. For us, it's a combination of the food is good enough, we don't have to wait for a table (unlike Tachibana or Sushi Taro) and it just feels like a neighborhood joint. On-point for a mid-week easy meal, rather than a destination place.