Cheap Eats 2011: Toki Underground
Comments () | Published August 17, 2011
Cheap Eats 2011

Toki Underground
Address: 1234 H St., NE, Washington, DC 20002
Phone: 202-388-3086
Neighborhood: H Street NE, Capitol Hill, Northeast
Cuisines: Japanese
Opening Hours: Sunday through Wednesday 5 to midnight (bar closes at 2 AM), Thursday through Saturday 5 PM to 3 AM (kitchen and bar).
Price Range: Inexpensive
Dress: Informal
Noise Level: Chatty
Reservations: Not Needed
Best Dishes Classic and miso ramen; pork dumplings; beef dumplings; passionfruit gelato; Pizzicato Five cocktail.
Price Details: Dumplings $5 for six, ramen $10, desserts $7.

With graffiti-painted walls and Taiwanese-cartoon figurines, this 23-stool shoebox is the epitome of Washington's next restaurant generation: edgy, scruffy, loud. But customers don't wait two hours on a Tuesday for the vibe--the ramen and dumplings coming from the kitchen are admirable.

Chef/owner Erik Bruner-Yang, 27, who spent a month apprenticing at a noodle shop in Taiwan, doesn't take shortcuts. The base for most of his soups is a tonkotsu broth, which starts with pork bones simmered more than 24 hours. He makes dumpling wrappers in-house and whips up his own hot sauce--a four-alarm concoction similar to Sriracha.

Two people can make a meal from one big bowl of ramen (all five varieties are $10 each) and an order of dumplings (six for $5), which means a Cheap Eats budget can include cocktails. Good thing, because the seven-drink list is creative--you'll see pepper-honey liqueur and shiso-lemongrass simple syrup--and delicious.

Also good: Pan-fried dumplings with pork or beef; classic ramen with pork loin, egg, and pickled ginger; nuttier-tasting miso ramen with pickled cucumbers, mushrooms, and seaweed; spicy kimchee ramen; passionfruit sorbet; Super Duper Car and Pizzacato Five cocktails.

Open daily for dinner.

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Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 08/17/2011 RSS | Print | Permalink | Washingtonian.com Restaurant Reviews