Hump Day Chomp: Toki Underground

humpdaychompHopefully the first of many, Hump Day Chomp is a new weekly posting that intends, perhaps unsuccessfully, to make your Hump day a bit less humpy. We’ve found restaurants that are (mostly) cheap, rarely visited by our Georgetown amigos and, above all, pretty freaking good to get you through the week. So without further ado, I would like to presenteth our first Hump Day Chomp, Toki Underground.

Toki Underground is a small, cozy restaurant located at 1234 H St. NE, nuzzled between another Asian restaurant and one of those dark bars with scary tattooed bartenders. As you go up the narrow stairs, you can hear 90s music playing and Toki’s red lighting infiltrate the walkway. For a split second, I wondered if I was being taken into some sort of Red Light District, praying that I wouldn’t get deported if I somehow got caught. Thankfully, my friend and I were greeted by a smiling hostess.

TOKI

Toki does not have any tables — only limited bar seating. The dangling lamps and awesome wall art make you feel as though you are in a hip, hole-in-the-wall in central Kyoto. All germaphobes can rejoice because there is an open kitchen to the left, in case you are worried about the noodle-making process. The waiter behind the bar also happens to be the bartender, which is cool but might lead to poor choices considering you have class on Thursday.

Their menu is pretty short and their specialty is Taiwanese ramen, but they also have different types of dumplings. We ordered the pork dumplings to share and I had the vegetarian ramen that had roasted root vegetables soup, tofu, daikon and shitake mushrooms. My friend had the Toki Classic, with pulled pork and pickled ginger. I immediately regretted my decision.

toki2

Ramen bowls cost $11 or $12, and they are HUGE. You will feel fuller than Chris Christie after an all-you-can-eat buffet at Friday’s, so believe me when I say it’s worth it. They also offer an assortment of Japanese beers and sakes that the waiter/bartender will gladly pair with whatever you decide to order.

All in all, Toki Underground was fan-freaking-tastic. Although you might have to wait a while for the limited bar seating, H Street is a good place to explore while you kill time. They also offer take-out, so give ‘em a call if you’re in a hurry. Once we sat down, however, the food came very quickly. Get out of the Gtown Bubble and have some fun. Remember, winter is coming.

Toki Underground
1234 H St NE
(202) 388-3086
Nearest metro stop: Union Station on the red line. You might want to share an Uber once you get there, as H St. is more than a mile from the stop.

4Eats: The Art of Ramen

4eats

Cheap, unhealthy, and easy to make.  It’s every college student’s guilty late-night pleasure. When we’re sick of Leo’s, too broke to order take-out, or too lazy to cook, we can always depend on this little guy. What is this goodness I am referring to? I’m surprised you even asked. Ok, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and suppose you’re eating legit food, now that you’re on summer vacation. But, really, how could you forget about your best friend, the one that’s always there for you, Ramen.

While most of us are guilty of slurping these pre-cooked noodles of yumminess, we haven’t really given it the respect it deserves. We may resort to it to satisfy our ravenous cravings but, in Japan, ramen is an art. There are ramen masters who have perfected the cooking of these wheat noodles in distinct flavorings of deliciously seasoned broth. But fear not! We don’t need to travel to Japan to taste good ramen. DC has seen its fair share of ramen shops that you should try!

Daikaya
705 Sixth St. NW in Penn Quarter
What you’ll find here 4 types of Sapporo-style ramen: miso, shio (salt), shoyu (soy), vegan
Fun fact Chefs were trained intensively under a ramen master from Sapporo.

TAAN Noodles
1817 Columbia Road NW in Adams Morgan
What you’ll find here 3 types of ramen: pork-based, duck-based, vegetarian; kushiyaki; onigiri; and various small plates
Fun fact Toppings include pork belly, duck confit, and chicken confit.

Sakuramen
2441 18th Street NW in Adams Morgan
What you’ll find here
Gojiramen – Traditional shoyu ramen with chashu, menma, scallions, nori, and sprouts
Sakuramen – Signature Vegetarian Ramen! Kombu broth with menma, corn, green onion, mushrooms, nori, and drizzled with a homemade fragrant oil
DC Miso – A tribute to Washington DC and our veteran friends with chashu, menma, green onion, cheese, naruto, and nori, and more
Fun fact Offers ramen flavors from around the world.

Toki Underground
1234 H Street, NE (above The Pug)
What you’ll find here Ramen: Toki Classic, Taipei Curry Chicken, Vegetarian, Red Miso, Kimchi; Dumplings & sides
Fun fact Inspired by a Hakata-style shop in Taipei. Add-ons include pulled pork, pork cheek, and “Toki Endorphin Sauce”.

So here you have it. A brief intro to the true beauty of ramen. We hope we’ve convinced you to go out to these ramen shops and taste what ramen can be. It is something more than the result of a college student’s tight budget and imagination. It’s actually an art in itself.

That’s So Ramen

I don’t have any food in my dorm. As a result, I’m forced to go to Leo’s or the Leavey Center to get Grab N Go if I want something quick to eat. My schedule sometimes doesn’t give me enough time to make the trip there. Most people would consider my situation hopeless — but that’s because they don’t know that I have stacks on stacks of instant ramen. It’s terrible for your health and if it’s all you eat, you can get sick of it quickly. Besides that, I love ramen because of its versatility and convenience. Here are some ways to prepare it that you may not have known:

Pour the boiling water in the bag

This is probably the most low-rent (and convenient!) way to eat instant ramen. Open up the bag at the top, and pour all the soup base, vegetables, and whatever else you want into the bag. Then pour boiling water into the bag, holding the bag upright so no water spills out. Hold the bag by the top for a few minutes. Open up, and enjoy right out of the bag!

Raw Ramen

Just open up the bag, pour the soup base in the bag, throw out the vegetables, and crush the brick of noodles (all in the bag). After you break the noodles up into bite-sized pieces, shake up the bag to spread the soup base. Just eat right out of the bag!

Cheese on Ramen

This is a little ambitious for many people. I’m not a fan of it, but I know many that are. After you prepare the ramen the normal way, put one or two slices of any type of cheese on it and watch it melt. Sounds good in theory, but something about it just doesn’t work for me. Maybe it will for you!

Egg on Ramen

This is much more conventional. Just crack an egg into the pot or bowl right after you pour the boiling water and eat it when it solidifies.

Rice with Soup

After you finish eating the ramen, you can put the leftover soup to good use! Put rice into the leftover soup and enjoy!

Ramen on Ramen

Okay, now it’s getting a little contrived, but this is a real recipe! There are different brands of instant ramen and each has its own distinct taste. I personally like mixing the classic Shin Ramen and the thicker udon-type Neoguri ramen

Photo: https://leeschmidt.wordpress.com/2010/11/24/ramen/