As the temperatures drop, warming up over a steaming bowl of ramen is the ideal remedy.
Oki Bowl, located at 1817 M St. NW, offers Japanese fare in a whimsical space decorated with knick-knacks like birdhouses and glass bottles hung up on the walls and a makeshift tree adorned in woven baskets and string lights.
While Oki Bowl’s menu features salads, rice bowls and appetizers, its specialty is rich, hearty ramen.
As the name suggests, Oki Bowl’s menu has bowls of ramen with toppings like kimchi ($13) and spider tomyum ($16) – a red chili lemongrass broth served with ramen, bean sprouts, mushroom, a hard-boiled egg and a hefty topping of soft-shell crab.
But the ramen bowl that outshines the others is Oki Bowl’s Oki curry ramen ($15), which elevates typical ramen dishes with the addition of an unusual broth.
The dish begins with a curry and coconut milk broth that is abundant in flavor and employs the ideal amount of spice. The addition of coconut milk makes a typically transparent, salty broth into a creamy sauce-like broth rich with spice from the curry.
On top of the noodles and broth, the ramen is garnished with shallot, pickled cabbage, crispy noodles and fried chicken.
Each topping adds crispness to the ramen and the shallot and pickled cabbage add a slight tanginess. The fried chicken soaks up the flavors of the curry coconut milk broth and practically melts in your mouth, while the crispy noodles also become entrenched in the broth’s flavor but still remain crunchy.
While slurping on the ramen, it seemed as if each bite was more flavorful than the next and the toppings served as a nice change of texture from the broth and noodles.
If you’re looking for something less hearty than ramen, Oki Bowl has a range of appetizers from steamed shrimp shumai ($8) and edamame ($6) to chicken potstickers ($9) and a kani salad ($8) made with shredded crab meat, greens and cucumber.
Oki Bowl also offers rice bowls for entrees like the chashu bowl ($14) with braised pork belly, steamed bok choy and hard-boiled egg topped with pickled ginger, scallion and sesame seeds, or the mushroom bowl ($14) with sauteed mushrooms, garlic and soy sauce topped with pickled ginger, scallion and sesame seeds.
Oki Bowl is also known for its range of sake options, which pair perfectly with ramen. The restaurant serves dryer sake like Kiku Masamune ($8) and Hakushika Chokara ($18) to more fruity options like JPOP grapefruit ($7.50) and Izeko sparkling sake with peach ($12).
Just a short walk from campus, Oki Bowl is the ideal spot to warm up on chilly winter days with a bowl of its Oki curry ramen.