We tend to think of ramen as a swine lover’s treat, with pork
and noodles set in rich broth. A surprising—and welcome—new trend:
vegetarian versions that pack just as much flavor.
The trick is brewing a soup that mimics traditional styles
enriched with meat or seafood. We love perching on a stool at
Daikaya (705 Sixth St., NW; 202-589-1600), where delicate
vegetable stock is swirled in a hot wok for added smokiness, resulting in
a soulful bowl heaped with seared Brussels and bean sprouts and
At Adams Morgan’s Sakuramen (2441 18th St.,
NW; 202-656-5285), mushrooms flavor the kombu broth, a seaweed
elixir that arrives crowned with thick-sliced portobellos cooked in a
sweet, bulgogi-style sauce. The nearby ramen joint
Taan (1817 Columbia Rd., NW; 202-450-2416) goes even
heartier, creating an almost chowder-like dish with chili-spiked soy milk
and toasted garlic.
Even Toki Underground (1234 H St., NE;
202-388-3086), which draws hours-long waits for its tonkatsu
(translation: very porky) ramen, has won converts to its vegan version.
Charred vegetables, lemongrass, and dried mushrooms stew overnight for a
deeply flavored soup packed with shiitakes, daikon, and seasonal
Not a strict vegan? Opt for add-ons such as nitamago,
a soft-boiled egg—and of course, there’s always roast pork.
This article appears in the August 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.