Around Town / Food

Ren’s Ramen: A Restaurant Review

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I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Ren’s Ramen kicks some serious noodle a**

One night a few weeks ago we ventured into Maryland to pick up my wallet from the Metro lost and found office (don’t ask).  To keep Chris entertained as he battled rush hour traffic for us, I read the City Paper restaurant reviews aloud to him.

And in those pages, I read a review that would change our lives.

For at least a year now Chris has been telling me that you really haven’t eaten noodles (or lived-but I guess its the same thing really) until you’ve eaten real Japanese ramen.  Problem was, till now, the closest real Japanese ramen lived over on the West Coast and out of reach.

What were two East coast kids craving good noodles to do?

Until on that fateful night across the Maryland border that I read about Ren’s.  And I quote:

“Ren’s Ramen is owned by Yoko and Eiji Nakamura, a husband-and-wife team who are first-time restaurateurs. Before he started making ramen, Eiji was a sushi chef in New York City, where he and Yoko met. When the couple moved to D.C., Eiji spent a couple of years working at the now-defunct Café MoZU inside the Mandarin Oriental hotel before deciding last year to take a trip to Hokkaido, at the behest of the noodle company Nishiyama, to learn the art of ramen.

For those who are geographically challenged by anything outside the Beltway, Hokkaido prefecture is located in the north of Japan, where the winters are cold and the soups molten-hot. The ramen there is traditionally weighed down with miso paste, lard, corn kernels, and even butter, which cooks will add right before serving, so that the thick pats melt into the hot broth, adding one more layer of fat to both you and the liquid. This Sapporo-style ramen is, as you could guess, Hokkaido’s answer to chicken soup.

And did I mention it is freakin’ delicious?

After you part the curtains that separate the Japanese grocery store next store from the Raman restaurant, you are led to one of maybe 5 folding tables in the whole place.

These restaurateurs are so laser-focused on the ramen, you can’t even order a hot tea in the restaurant.

But it doesn’t matter.

Chris and I are fans of the miso-based broth (but the seaweed broth is also scrumptious).  Besides the perfect hearty chewiness of the ramen, what takes me away is that fantastic broth.

That broth is a real full meal, its not just some flavored noodle water.  If you take this broth, with a flavor so deep its obviously been cultivated and perfectly honed like an old time hanzo samurai sword (too much?) and you put this broth in a fight against your standard  Asian noodle water, it would take down its opponent like a sumo wrestler taking down a Japanese school girl with a hello kitty lunch box.   I mean it could just sit on it, no fight involved. (And when I say Asian noodle water-I’m looking at you Pho 75-you’ve been disappointing me lately, too many of us round-eyes come in and you start lowering your standards?)

Anyways, what I’m trying to say is that Ren’s Ramen rocks my world.  Maybe its that savory miso broth, maybe its those succulent noodles, but I’ve started craving Ren’s on at least a weekly basis.

So try it, it will change your life.  Just be sure to eat fast in hot, gasping gulps before the noodles go soft, and before the people waiting behind you in line try to jump you for your ramen.  Its so good they just might.

**Chris just read this and said that I should probably at least tip you off that this place is hard too find.  I wasn’t going to be so kind but he is.  Basically its a little off the beaten path, behind a CVS in a random office building.  Parking is tight so you’ll probably want to duck into the CVS at least once every few visits so that should you get towed you can at least wave your CVS card and argue what a valued customer you are.



4 thoughts on “Ren’s Ramen: A Restaurant Review

  1. Pingback: Bread Recipes I’m Jonesing to Make « Hot Pot

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