The ramen trend hits Annandale.
By Stefanie Gans / Photos by Jonathan Timmes
Tanpopo Ramen House exists in a mini-mall, with fifteen tables and parchment paper-colored walls just off Little River Turnpike. But owner Dave Kim wishes he was in New York.
“I’ll be honest, their ramen in New York is great,” says Kim. “Theirs is better than the ones in Japan.”
This is Kim’s first ramen (and sushi) shop, but not his first restaurant: he took over Sorak Gardens, a Korean barbecue, seven years ago.
Tanpopo’s chef, Shinmoto Mitsutoshi, 60, worked as a sushi chef in Japan but pulls both raw fish and soup duties in Annandale, two specialties that each require specific expertise.
The cloudy, Hokkaido miso broth contains the type of porkiness that hits all the way within the nasal cavity. The noodles retain some chew, but do not possess house-made finesse; they are shipped from New York.
Washington, D.C. produced multiple ramen houses last year—Kim likes H Street’s Toki Underground—as is true of cities nationwide, and Tanpopo is one of the first to arrive in the Northern Virginia suburbs.
Opened in August, it’s still catching up.
“We’re trying to be the best and we’re working on it,” says Kim, carefully. “We’ll get better. It takes time to be the best.”
Tanpopo Ramen House
The lunch special: a bowl of ramen and choice of a sushi roll or onigiri for $10.
Ramen $9-$13, Sushi $3.50-$60.
Lunch and dinner, Tuesday through Sunday.
4316 Markham St., Annandale; tanpoporamenhouse.com