Situated right in the middle of the Adams Morgan strip, Sakuramen has some prime real estate, although I'd imagine that the ambiance on a Friday or Saturday night might be less than stellar. Liz and I went this past Sunday however, which was pretty much perfect.
The staff were super-friendly as we got seated, and noticing the sharp decor and the delicious smell of the place, my expectations started to rise considerably.
I ordered a plate of pork buns to start, with the "Sakuramen" as my main.
Liz inquired about the availability of rice noodles, but as they didn't have any, she opted for the spicy ramen broth with pork belly, sans noodles.
|Just add acid|
|Delicious, delicious noodles...|
The ramen is similarly unbalanced. The noodles, I will say, were pretty much perfect. Toothsome and delicious, it was so close to an awesome bowl of ramen. Unfortunately, the broth and toppings couldn't quite pull it together.
Now don't get me wrong - I totally understand that ramen is supposed to be salty, believe me. But at its highest level, ramen should be salty + something else. Say salty + rich from the yolk of a soft-boiled egg, or salty + spicy from a shot of sriracha, or salty + sour from a garnish of pickled vegetables. And Sakuramen had the right idea, topping my noodles with big slices of mushrooms, menma (fermented bamboo shoots), and corn, but the underlying saltiness of the broth, combined with too many green onions atop the noodles overwhelmed the rest of the flavours that were trying desperately to elbow their way into contact with my tastebuds. Liz found a similar issue with her broth, although the spiciness of hers provided a little more depth.
All in all, it was an OK meal that was just a few tweaks away from being really excellent. Hopefully they'll have those tweaks squared away next time I get the craving for more ramen...
Sakuramen isn't a great spot if you need to be gluten-free. Liz enjoyed the soup with pork-belly, but felt that the pork may have been marinated in soy sauce as she felt a little bit of Gluten Haze hitting her as we left. If you really need to be gluten-free, you're probably better off going out for Pho instead...