Food

Inside Haikan, the Daikaya Team’s New Shaw Ramen Shop

It's not just ramen--there's also poutine.
Inside Haikan, the Daikaya Team’s New Shaw Ramen Shop
Haikan, a new ramen shop from the Daikaya and Bantam King team, opens in Shaw. Photography by Jeff Elkins

The highly-anticipated Shaw ramen shop from the team behind Daikaya and Bantam King is almost here. Haikan will open its doors for dinner on Saturday evening in the Atlantic Plumbing building (hence the name, which translates to “pipework”). The 59-seat restaurant is the biggest venture yet for partners Daisuke Utagawa, Yama Jewayni, and executive chef Katsuya Fukushima, with an additional 40-person patio for winding down the summer over sparkling sochu sangria. Here’s what you need to know before you go.

Spicy ma po tofu and poutine, together at last (there are crispy fries under all the goodness!).
Spicy ma po tofu and poutine, together at last (there are crispy fries under all the goodness!).

There’s more than ramen on the menu.

While Daikaya diners have to pick between the ramen shop and izakaya for small plates, the best of both worlds come together at Haikan. You can tell Fukushima is having fun when it comes to the snacks, especially the ma po tofu poutine—a Canadian-Szechuan mashup of crispy fries, mozzarella curds, soft tofu, and mouth-tingling chilies. Other items include a spiffed-up crab Rangoon, and a “pea-sar” salad of edamame, snow peas, Caesar-like dressing, a slow-poached egg, and fried sardines. For dessert: kakigori, Japanese shaved ice in a rotating selection of flavors.

The nearly 60-seat space is the biggest for the owners, and also boasts a 40-seat patio.
The nearly 60-seat space is the biggest for the owners, and also boasts a 40-seat patio.

All of the noodle soups are new.

The kitchen takes creative leave with the small plates, but the ramen runs traditional. Like at Daikaya, the noodle soups draw from Sapporo, Japan and are made with a delicate chintan broth that’s flashed in searing-hot woks for depth of flavor (Bantam King, on the other hand, specializes in milky paitan chicken broth). All of the ramen bowls at Haikan are new, such as a shio (salt) broth packed with umami from Hokkaido scallops, a light shoyu (soy sauce) version, or miso ramen that gets a subtle nuttiness from sesame. Vegetarians will also have a spicy option, heaped with seasonal produce. Each bowl (minus the meatless) comes with traditional topping combinations of roasted and ground pork, bean sprouts, nori, and scallions, plus house-made garlic-chive oil.

Several styles of Sapporo ramen are offered as well as this rich vegetarian version that's slightly spicy.
Several styles of Sapporo ramen are offered as well as this rich vegetarian version that’s slightly spicy.

You can drink your vegetables. 

Barman Daniel Pouridas is behind the concise list of creative cocktails like the “wasabi peas,” where floral Edinburgh gin is muddled with fresh snow peas, finely-grated wasabi, and citrusy yuzu juice. If you prefer a cocktail sans salad, try the sparkling sochu sangria that’s carbonated in-house. Groups can go in for carafes of sake and large-format beers. Being a Sapporo-style ramen shop, Sapporo beer will always be on draft.

The bar pours refreshing drinks, like this house-made grapefruit soda with sochu.

The noodles are spot-on

For Utagawa, noodles—not toppings—are the key to a great ramen. “If you have a great sandwich with bad bread, then it’s not a great sandwich,” he says. To that end, priority was placed on sourcing the best ramen noodles. Utagawa and the team traveled to Sapporo and created a custom blend with a producer—half Hokkaido flour, half American grain—which is imported to the restaurant. To eat ramen like a pro, slurp the noodles first before they’re soggy, then the broth.

Drinkers can perch at the small drink bar, or another L-shaped counter in front of the kitchen.
Drinkers can perch at the small drink bar, or another L-shaped counter in front of the kitchen.

Brunch ramen may be in your future.

Initially Haikan will be open only for dinner, with lunch and weekend brunch to follow. The menu is still in the works for the latter, but we hear Fukushima can make a mean bowl of breakfast ramen inspired by bagels n’ lox.

Haikan. 805 V St., NW. Opening Saturday, August 27 

Cool off with sparkling sochu sangria.
Cool off with sparkling sochu sangria.

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Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.