Details

Toki Underground

1234 H St., NE
Washington, DC 20002

202-388-3086

Neighborhood: H Street NE, Capitol Hill, Northeast

Cuisines: Japanese

Opening Hours:
Monday through Wednesday 5 to 10 PM, Thursday 5 to 11 PM, Friday and Saturday 5 PM to Midnight, Closed Sunday.

Price Range: Moderate

Dress: Informal

Noise Level: Chatty

Reservations: Not Needed

Website: http://tokiunderground.com/#/

Best Dishes:
Classic and miso ramen; pork dumplings; beef dumplings; passionfruit gelato; Pizzicato Five cocktail.

Price Details:
Dumplings $5 for six, ramen $11-$12, desserts $7.

Cheap Eats 2011: Toki Underground

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.