In Japan, it’s not uncommon for ramen shops to specialize in a single signature style. Menya Hosaki chef/owner Eric Yoo would love to do something like that, but he thinks it would be a hard sell for most American diners who prefer variety and tend to have a lot of dietary restrictions. For now, though, he’s trying out something pretty darn close: Every Tuesday—a day when his Petworth restaurant had previously been closed— the dining room opens for lunch with tsukemen, or dipping noodles. Since the special launched just a couple weeks ago, crowds have already started going out of their way to try it, including many restaurant industry workers who have the day off.
Menya Hosaki recently decided to close for service on weekends so Yoo’s team didn’t feel so stretched thin. “It was a risky move, obviously, for a restaurant. Saturday is a busy day. We said, instead of just adding another day, like Tuesday, let’s think of something that people will really like,” he says. “It won’t just be one more day on the schedule, but something that will get people excited.”
The opening Tsukemen Tuesday menu featured thick-cut noodles ($20) with seared pork belly, spinach, and marinated egg alongside a rich pork- and-chicken broth blended with three different dried and smoked fish. The recipe shifts week to week. Today, Yoo is offering noodles with a spicy tonkotsu dipping broth. Near the end of the meal, diners can request warm dashi to dilute the sauce into a soup. There are a handful of beers and sodas on the Tuesday menu, but that’s it.
Menya Hosaki prides itself on making every element of its ramen from scratch, including the noodles. Yoo, a financial consultant turned chef, learned to make tsukemen from his mentor, New York ramen chef Keizo Shimamoto. But he says it’s even more time and labor intensive than regular ramen, so it doesn’t make sense to add it to the usual dinner menu.
“The hydration and the type of flour and the cook time—everything has to be engineered perfectly… Also after I rinse the noodles, I fold the noodles in a certain way. The presentation is very important to me too,” Yoo says.
The special menu is available for dine-in only from 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM on Tuesdays. There are no reservations, but you can put your name on a Yelp waitlist beginning at 11:30.
Menya Hosaki. 845 Upshur St., NW.