Fall has arrived.
Leaves are falling, the air is cooler, and our neighbors put out their inflatable trio of ghosts.
We crave hot drinks instead of iced drinks. We stock up on apples instead of watermelon. And we want nothing more than oodles of hot soupy noodles.
This weekend we satisfied our noodle craving at Toki Underground. Toki Underground specializes in Taiwanese-style ramen, but also offers typical side dishes like gyoza and tofu. We read a bunch of positive reviews about the place and were excited to finally check it out.
Toki is literally a hidden gem, as in, it’s hidden. There are no signs, just a door with a blue symbol. And in spite of its name, it’s on the 2nd floor above The Pug.
We arrived 30 minutes after opening and faced a 25 minutes wait. By the time we were seated around 6pm, the wait was about 45 minute for two. Our advice would be to go early. But the wait went by really fast. Toki has a cool vibe with a lot to look at. Loud music, skateboards as footrests, and little Japanese figurines that watch you eat. Toki also has a really awesome staff. While we waited for our table, we chatted with a few employees–all of them were super friendly. One guy brought the drink menu and asked if we wanted anything. We usually don’t drink (Mrs. C’s motto is to waste her calories on dessert instead), but Mrs. Chow decided to get a Pizzacato Five. I had a small sip and can report that the drink was really good. Light, refreshing, and grapefruit-y.
For eats, Mrs. Chow and I started with two appetizers. The pan-friend pork gyoza and the traditional “Taiwanese” style cold tofu. The pan-fried gyoza was pretty good. Crispy on the outside, juicy and tasty on the inside. One order is $5 and comes with six gyoza. The dish is served with a teriyaki type of sauce that we used for dipping. Mrs. Chow wasn’t too fond of the sauce, preferring ponzu instead.
We got tricked by the tofu. The dish consisted of 3 slices of silken tofu covered with bonito flakes and the same thick brown sauce used on the gyoza. At $1 per slice of tofu, this dish was not really worth it to us. And we weren’t sure what made this “traditional Taiwanese” in style? I’m from Taiwan and when it comes to tofu, the stinker, the better.
Now to the stars of the restaurant–the ramen. For me, the Curry Chicken Hakata ramen. For Mrs. Chow, the Toki Hakata Classic ramen. Both were sooo good. The noodles were perfectly cooked and the soup was so great in flavor.
The Toki Hakata classic broth had a nice, full taste and the white and black sesame seeds were a great touch. The pieces of pork were really tender. This dish will not disappoint.
The curry chicken broth was amazing. I love me some curry beef noodle soup at Vietnamese restaurants, and I would say this is even better. The curry taste is spot on! The chicken was fried and nothing too spectacular. Maybe I will order without chicken next time. And for those who have a pretty big appetite (or those who don’t order appetizers)–you might want to spend the $2 on extra noodles so you can use up all of the really tasty broth.
The Toki menu also features vegetarian ramen, kim chee ramen, and miso ramen. We definitely want to go back and try all of these.
When Fall returns, we are usually grumpy. Winter looms in the near future. We can’t stop buying candy at Target. And we don’t have anything inflatable in our yard to keep up with the Joneses. But this year is different. This year we have Toki Underground.
1234 H Street, NE (above The Pug)
Washington, DC 20002
S,M,T,W: Food 5p-10p / Bar: 5p-2a
TH,F,S: Food 5p-12a / Bar: 5p-3a