I took a stroll to the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington, VA, this afternoon and stopped by Hanabi Ramen for lunch. I was greeted by a friendly host, who was also an attentive server. I asked him what he recommended, and he said the Tsukemen since it was a hot and humid summer day. I ordered mine with an extra egg, mushroom slices and tofu.
This was indeed a good choice for a hot day because Tsukemen is served with cold noodles separate from the broth, so that you can dip the noodles in the broth without the heat of the dish being concentrated.
The broth here is made with a blend of pork, fish and soy sauce, according to the menu. I could see little glistening fat globules in the broth, which is a good sign it’s been simmering away with all that pork goodness for a long time. The broth had a creamy look to it; I’m not sure what made it look like that, but I did appreciate the rich flavor. There were cubes of tender pork hidden in the broth; a nice surprise when I dipped the spoon in.
I chatted a bit with the chef, who said he sources his noodles from the West Coast. The noodles were somewhat wide and flat (like a fettucini noodle) and had the perfect toothsome texture. They picked up the flavor of the broth quickly when dipped.
Two pork slices were served atop the noodles. They were thinly sliced and tender and cold like the noodles.
I liked the coating on the tofu cubes. I asked the chef what he used, and he told me–but I promised to keep his secret.
I love soft-boiled eggs marinated in soy sauce, so I had a second helping for the meal. I enjoyed talking to the chef about the process for making a perfect soft-boiled egg. He told me the trick is to prick a tiny hole at the bottom of the egg so that the internal gas can escape and to cook the egg for 6 min., then stop the cooking process with cold water and let it sit for 20 min.
The verdict: A hearty, pleasurable meal. I recommend you visit if you’re in the neighborhood.