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Not Your Roommate’s Ramen: Woodley Park

The neighborhood of Adams Morgan is a well-known foodie paradise in Washington, D.C. Aromas of cuisines from around the world waft down the street, enticing people to try food outside of their comfort zone. I sat down with Jonathan Cho, the owner of Sakuramen, an authentic ramen joint, to chat about what makes his restaurant so unique. 

AWOL: How did you come up with the name “Sakuramen?”
Cho: The Japanese word sakura means “cherry blossom,” which is an important cultural aspect to DC. And the name just happened to fit really well with ramen!

AWOL: What inspirations do you draw upon for your dishes?
Cho: Ramen noodles are originally from China, but became a staple in Japan and Korea as well. Our chef studied in Japan, so there is Japanese influence in our dishes, but we are Korean. We all grew up eating a lot of the dishes. The dumplings are my mother’s recipe and she and my mother-in-law help make the kimchi, [a traditional Korean dish of pickled vegetables] fresh every week.

AWOL: How many bowls of ramen do you serve every day?
Cho: During the week, I’d say around 300 bowls of ramen and 300 to 400 dumplings. But on the weekends double that!

AWOL: What’s the best part of being a restaurant owner?
Cho: Ever since our first night, we have been a success and have never needed to do any kind of advertising or marketing. It’s all word of mouth. So to see people we know return and to bring new people with them because they loved the food so much is great. It’s one thing to get someone to come once, but having people come visit because they want to visit and seeing them go fed well and satisfying, well, that’s very satisfying to us. 

Ramen might be a staple in the college student’s diet, but after trying some authentic ramen, it might be difficult to go back to noodles from a cup! Each bowl sells for about $11-14 each and offers a change of pace for people jaded by TDR and the Tavern. Be warned though, it is addicting! 

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