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Apr 1, 2011 07:48 PM

Toki Undergournd in NE DC - Report

This is the first time I’ve been to a restaurant on opening night – maybe a clue to what a fiend I am for ramen.

I don’t want to discourage anyone from trying out this place. Under the right circumstances. It’s cheap enough so that if you are in the neighborhood, you can decide for yourself what items you prefer.

But if you are a ramen fan and are considering a special trip, then I’d say it is not a destination restaurant.

It’s got some good points. Better toppings than Renn’s Ramen. Better noodles, although even here they could be more firm.

Of the three soups that we tried, two of them were non-starters: the miso and the chicken curry. Taking the tonkatsu base and adding a bit of miso or a bit of curry flavor produces a middling result that is neither very flavorful nor pleasant. Only the classic tonkatsu was agreeable.

So if you want to have the best possible experience, order the classic, get additional pork topping (it is terrific), and get an additional soft egg (also terrific).

The chicken curry topping is a culinary work of art, dunked in liquid. They should sell that with any of the soups.

The dumplings are ok, but that’s not why you’re here, and they won’t do the trick. The cold tofu appetizer is a nice way to start things off.

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  1. Thanks for the report! I was not brave enough to go on opening night.

    1. Checked out this place last night while out on H St. Overall, we were fairly disappointed. I ordered the chicken curry ramen, and my gf got the kimchi one. We both tried to order a cocktail off menu since we saw they had pisco - which happens to be our favorite liquor - but the waiter said they couldn't do it (after asking the bartender). He said he could make the Jaded cocktail and replace the gin with pisco, which was close enough to what we wanted to order so we went with that. The drink was ok, but seemed pretty weak.

      The chicken curry ramen had one redeeming quality - the chicken (which was tasty), but the broth was overly salty and the noodles were chewy. Meh. Same for my gf's kimchi. Also a bit off-putting was they charged for their housemade sriracha, which didn't taste much like sriracha (which we like), and also wasn't very spicy. Atleast give us the option for the regular sriracha.

      I should give the disclaimer that I am not a big "soup" or ramen or pho fan, but I've been open to it. The service was good though.

      1. Just went to Toki and I really enjoyed it, certainly better than my experience at Ren's a few years back. The dumplings (pork, panfried) were blah, bordering on bad (especially with the insanely salty fruit sauce, and close to burned exterior), but I really enjoyed my classic Hakata ramen. I thought the texture of the noodles was perfect, broth was complex though maybe a tad too salty, and good pork and egg inside. Wish there'd been more seaweed since my one bite was memorable. My friend's curry chicken was also nice and I think I will order it next time. We also had a side of pickled cucumbers IIRC which provided a nice counterpoint. I will return, and maybe on another hot day when there's no wait for a table!

        1. Based on good recent reports on Chowhound, I gave Toki Underground another try on Saturday night. I arrived at 7:10pm and was told of a 20-30 minute wait. Since I was solo, they managed to get me seated in 5 minutes, so it's good to be a little patient.

          I went for the kimchee ramen, and it was very, very good. The stock was thick, spicy, and complicated. The toppings were delicious, and the noodles served 'hard' - just how I like them. The ramen was served lukewarm - despite most reports of receiving very hot bowls- but this did not stop me from enjoying it very much. Hard to compare this to other ramen because of its unique flavor, but quality was high.

          I'm glad I went back.