DC is full of swanky, trendy restaurants. The types of restaurants that charge $15 for a cocktail and make you feel as if you should be honored to be allowed through the doors to dine in their fine establishment, even after waiting hours to get in. Yes, there is no shortage of such places to dine in our fine city. Yet, everyone once in awhile, a fantastic restaurant on the other side of the spectrum opens its doors. Delicious food, great service, reasonable prices and some good old fashioned character are the staples of Toki Underground, H street’s Taiwanese-style ramen shop. The only thing Toki has in common with those swanky joints is the wait – and that is because the entire place only seats 30-ish people and the food is just THAT good.
Toki is an unassuming, second-floor eatery complete with Japanime art, skateboard footrests and red paper lanterns. The drinks are creative, most featuring various types of sake and the menu is limited and so is the seating. You can choose from five types of dumplings and five types of ramen noodle dishes. Initially, you might feel constrained by the limited menu, but trust me, order some of each and you will understand why Toki helps narrow your choices. They stick to what they do best and boy, do they do it the best!
We chose to dine on four types of dumplings, beef, pork, chicken and seafood, and the Toki Hakata Classic Ramen Noodle Soup. Every dish we got just kept getting better than the one before it. The dumplings were full of juicy flavor and lightly friend to perfection. The ramen soup was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. The broth is bold, flavored from the pork and boiled egg. If you like your dishes spicy, order a side of kimchee or some of the Toki Endorphin Sauce, their homemade Sriracha sauce.
Of course, if you’re going to dine authentically, you have to drink authentically too. We sampled three or four different sakes. All of which were excellent. The servers and bartenders are extremely knowledgeable, so don’t be afraid to ask them for a recommendation. If you’re in the mood for something light, sip on the Pizzacato Five, a mixture of Shochu (a Japanese clear distilled spirit likened to vodka), grapefruit, ginger, juice and soda water.
We were way too full for dessert, but the dishes were enticing. As we left, there was a line around the block of people waiting to enter to sample some of Toki’s fare. So, when you go, go early and be prepared to wait a bit, just in case.
Here’s what you need to know:1234 H Street, NE (above The Pug)
Washington, DC 20002
Click for Google Map
S,M,T,W: Food 5p-10p / Bar: 5p-2a
TH,F,S: Food 5p-12a / Bar: 5p-3