Nats pride may be sweeping the city, but Hatoba, the fourth ramen shop from the team behind Daikaya/Bantam King/Haikan is repping another jersey. The Navy Yard restaurant opens today, with memorabilia from Sapporo’s Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters as the backdrop for canned sake and Sapporo-style ramen.
“We get this question, ‘Why another Sapporo ramen, why don’t you do something else?’ says partner Daisuke Utagawa. “Even within that there’s a lot more going on. And we like that, it gives us a little bit of room to play.”
Take, for instance, the baseball motifs. Or ramen bowls that nod to its waterfront location with seafood, such as chef Katsuya Fukushima‘s spicy red miso with pork and clams.
Hatoba means “dock,” and the seafaring additions are fitting for a restaurant nestled into the Boilermaker Building, an old nautical warehouse. The 89-seat eatery features booths modeled after shipping containers.
The restaurant offers five ramen variations, with noodles from Nishiyama Seimen Company in Sapporo. Like the team’s other shops, Hatoba serves shio and shoyu ramen and a hearty vegetarian option. Here, vegan tomato curry broth is topped with a confit beefsteak tomato. Curry is a popular cafeteria choice for Japanese schoolchildren, Utawaga says. Extra toppings include onsen egg, roast pork, and “spice bombs.”
In addition to ramen, diners can order pan-fried gyoza and white rice. The majority of beverages come in cans, playing off the casual waterside vibe. Patrons can sip canned cocktails like a cucumber-grapefruit gin-and-tonic, as well as canned sake and Japanese beer.
Restaurants in Japan often use food replicas to display dishes on their menus, and Hatoba sent photographs to Japan for a set of their own (see above). The walls are also bejeweled with sake cups, bowls, and brushes—a reference to Kappabashi, a Tokyo street lined with restaurant equipment stores.
“We’re a neighborhood place. That’s what ramen is in Japan,” says Utagawa.
Hatoba. 300 Tingey St., SE, #170. Sunday through Thursday, 11 AM to 10 PM; Friday and Saturday, 11 AM to 11 PM.