2441 18th St NW, Washington, DC
If you’re walking too quickly down 18th Street in Adams Morgan, you might pass this nondescript but mind-blowing ramen restaurant. Set in the basement of a rowhouse, Sakuramen’s chill, laid-back vibe is a pleasant contrast to Adams Morgan’s normally bustling (a.k.a. wild) 18th Street scene.
Sakuramen is a small restaurant and decor is minimal. They do not take reservations and there is usually a wait. Don’t be alarmed if you’re hovering over a table where others are eating. Everyone who goes to Sakuramen knows that, because of its size, you’re bound to be up close and personal with your neighbors — but that’s what adds to its charm.
When I arrived at Sakuramen, I caught eyes with the host and managed to request a table for 4 without speaking a word. With a head nod, a wave and nothing but the use of his ten fingers, the host managed to navigate a long wait list of patrons. It was actually kind of amazing to watch! He swiftly walked from table to table keeping a mental note of which group was to be seated next and when it was our time, he gave us a simple wave and sat us down. Never…saying…a…word! It might seem weird, but it was actually endearing and done effectively. I loved it!
Where Sakuramen lacks in decor and words, it makes up for in its choice of music. There is nothing like kicking it on a Sunday afternoon to 90’s R&B and hip hop. Think classic Biggie, 112 and Big Pun. The playlist is what created the laid-back vibe at Sakuramen, and made the wait that much more bearable. I danced in my seat the entire time!
Not only is their playlist great, but of course, their ramen is great also. When ordering, make sure to let them know your desired spice level. Spice levels range from 1 – 10, 10 being unheard of unless you like having your taste buds burned off. I got a 2 and, as a person who does not like spice, it was perfect. If you do like spice, a safe and satisfying level is 5 or 6. Anything higher than a 6… good luck!
What to Order
These buns were made with roasted pork belly and tasted amazing. They did not disappoint.
These buns were made with sliced ribeye bulgogi and were packed with so much flavor.
Packed with pork belly and bulgogi, this ramen was a meat lover’s dream.
Chicken broth with sliced ribeye bulgogi.
Named after their favorite monster, though they didn’t elaborate on what/who that monster was. Either way, this is a fan favorite and a classic ramen bowl. Tip: Order with extra noodles.
Endearing host + great playlist + delicious ramen = the Sakuramen experience. Next time you are in the mood to chill with friends and enjoy some comfort food, stop by Sakuramen!