Ramen is one of our favorite nomnoms and we are excited to introduce you to the tasty world of Haikan, in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington D.C. The drinks are on U and ramen is on V! This delicious place is tucked away between U St. and V St. in Shaw. Even if you haven’t heard of Haikan, you probably heard of its sister restaurant, Daikaya in Chinatown, which operates under Executive Chef and Co-owner Katsya Fukushima. Many things make Haikan one of the best ramen places in D.C., including the custom-made ramen noodles from Sapporo, Japan. Another thing that sets this restaurant apart is its seasonal dishes. Every so often they come out with amazing dishes like Japanese Deviled Eggs, Kitamaru Poutine, and more. Here is our full review from the recent visit. We will update it with more nomnom dishes after our next visit.
Kitamaru Poutine $8 (4/5 NOMs)
These nomsters can’t pass up ordering a fusion version of Poutine from Haikan. This dish combined three different culinary worlds: Canadian, Chinese, and Japanese ingredients come together to make a perfect appetizer. Mapo Tofu is a popular dish from Sichuan province and can be found in most Chinese restaurants. Haikan took this popular dish, combined it with Canadian poutine with a Japanese spin on it. This poutine comes with your standard french fries, mozzarella curds, and ground chicken. What makes it extra special is the addition of the Japanese version of Mapo Tofu and freshly ground Szechuan peppercorn. A great dish for us meat lovers, but not so much for vegetarians. We asked if we could order this without chicken for our Chief Vegetarian Officer, but sadly the tofu and chicken are all ready mixed. It just meant there was more for us to eat.
Fried Brussels Sprouts $6 (5/5 NOMs)
We are about to eat a whole lot of Ramen. This means we need to get some veggies to feel a bit healthy. Nothing beats the taste and healthiness of brussels sprouts. Maybe a little less true if they are fried but whatever, it’s veggie time. Meat lovers don’t always say a veggie dish just might be better than a meat one. From the menu, this didn’t sound like a complex dish. Flavor-wise, it delivered an unexpected punch of deliciousness. Maybe it’s all that frying? This dish comes topped with pickled red onion and sesame sauce. Fried Brussels Sprouts are nothing new to D.C. ramen restaurants. These are by far the best in town and might have to be our new benchmark for rating similar dishes. These are available only for a short time as they are part of Haikan’s Special Dinner menu.
Japanese Deviled Eggs $5 (5/5 NOMs)
Holy nomster, you haven’t had deviled eggs until you’ve tried this steam egg version at Haikan. These just blew our taste buds away with their punch. These little bites come packed with deliciousness and far more ingredients than you may expect. The main part is a perfectly steamed egg (Nitamago), Kewpie a Japanese rice mayo, salmon eggs, jalapeno, and scallions. This is a seasonal special appetizer that sadly is no longer available. Please bring this back! It was so amazing we want to eat it again.
Smashed Cucumbers $5 (3/5 NOMs)
Like mom says, eat your veggies! And eat them before a big bowl of ramen. The smashed cucumber salad is a popular Asian dish that is simple yet delicious. It’s a perfect bite-size nom to enjoy with few drinks while waiting for the main course. What makes this dish so different from a regular sliced cucumber salad is the smashing part. Cucumbers are smashed until they crack open and release the seeds and juice. You definitely get a much rougher and different texture. At Haikan, the salad is prepared with Rayu Shoyu Dressing which is a popular condiment in ramen shops. It combines spicy chili oil with Japanese soy sauce and comes with a nice kick in every bite. The relatively low flavor profile goes well with drinks and other appetizers.
Crispy Pork Belly $7 (5/5 NOMs)
We love Pork Belly dishes and were so happy that Haikan makes one mean and delicious nomnom with it. This marked the first time we tried one of our favorite meats with one of our favorite fruits, watermelon. Such a perfect combination of savory and sweet! Plus, this dish comes with cucumber and cilantro in Korean hot pepper sauce. We just fell in love with every bite of the soft fatty pork. The only thing we wished for was more pork belly. It’s a relatively small dish, so next time we might just order two.
Spicy Shoyu Ramen $15 (4/5 NOMs)
While we have a choice of small or large, we are size queens and always go with the large. The ramen at Haikan is very hearty and filling, so don’t go crazy with extra toppings as we did. Then again, we regret nothing! We just had to add all of our favorites, extra pork belly, steam egg, and a new addition for us Wood Ear mushrooms. Normally spicy, Shoyu does not come with a steamed egg, which must be considered a crime! The egg is like one of our favorite parts. Every slurp was simply perfect. The pork has just the right amount of fat to make it nomnom. Unlike many ramen places where pork is on top, here it’s buried under all the noodles. You really can’t go wrong with this ramen.
What is Shoyu?
Ever wondered “what is Shoyu” but were too embarrassed to ask? We got you covered. When soy sauce was introduced to Japan from China, the recipe went from fully soybeans to 50/50 soybeans and wheat. Shoyu has a different taste profile with sweetness and is less bitter than regular soy sauce. There are five different types of Shoyu: Koikuchi, Usukuchi, Tamari, Sai Shikomi, and Shiro. Like most soy sauces, Shoyu is not gluten-free, so keep that in mind if that’s important for your dietary restrictions.
Shio Ramen $14 (3/5 NOMs)
As a respected size queen, we always go large with a large bowl of Shio Ramen. Out of four common ramen flavors, Shio is considered to be the oldest and lightest. You can definitely taste that here with the lightness of chicken broth and a hint of seafood. This dish delivers a solid taste that highlights the other ingredients like meat, Nori (seaweed), and ground pork. While it’s great ramen, it can’t beat our favorite Spicy Shoyu.
Fruzu Frozen Yuzu Lemonade $6 (3/5 NOMs)
You can’t have ramen without some drinks and Haikan is serving some fun cocktails, including an alcoholic lemonade called Fruzu. Fruzu is an adorably named drink made with Yuzu citrus fruit originally from central China and popularized in Korea and Japan. Taste-wise, it has a much higher citrusy profile than even a lemon. So if you like that sourness, then this is your fruit and your drink. This is a sipping drink that you will want to enjoy through your meal. One tip: don’t drink it with your dessert. The flavor combination will be quite weird.
Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich $5 (3/5 NOMs)
Is there anyone out there who doesn’t like cookies and ice cream? Dessert like this is a great way to end your nomnom adventure at Haikan. This dessert is not overly sweet with a chocolate cookie and vanilla ice cream. It will give you a nice cool, refreshing taste after enjoying some very hot and maybe spicy ramen. The cookie is quite hard, which we found made it difficult to share with friends.
Great news: there is a delivery option for those of us who want to stay in on a cold day. Haikan is available for delivery through a Caviar delivery service. The lunch menu is available from 11:30 am to 5:00 pm and the dinner menu is available from 5:00 pm to 11:30 pm. Sadly this service is only available within Washington D.C. proper and not in Maryland or Virginia suburbs.