Sakuramen boasts 1,000+ reviews and a 4-star rating on Yelp. That’s usually a sign that it will taste good, right? Nah. Albeit the disappointment, it is ramen places like these that motivate me to create these reviews!
Sakuramen is Korean-owned, which might explain a few things. In my experience, traditional Korean management tends to cheap out and trade off quality for “hype-quality.” This means that they will purchase a cheap, boxed wine at the grocery store, pour it in a glass, and advertise it as an elegant, more expensive house wine on the menu. Inexperienced wine drinkers will gladly pay for the over-priced box wine because they will never learn that the glass they ordered was cheaper than the entire box. This happened at the sushi restaurant I worked at back in high school. It was pretty smart.
I tasted three different bowls here: Tonkotsu Red, Spicy Miso, and Spicy Shoyu. The option for customers to choose the spicy level from 1-10 is probably a big contributor to the hype. People blindly make their ramen as spicy as possible, which is meaningless to do if you appreciate Japanese ramen as an art. That said, I ordered the Tonkotsu Red with no extra spiciness. Tip: Don’t do that. It’s bland.
The following review is on the Tonkotsu Red.
Light and crunchy menma
Bamboo shoots are one of my favorite toppings in ramen. Its crunchy texture and mild flavor supplemented the noodles and harmonized well.
Cheap tasting noodles, not al dente
My parents asked, “I wonder how cheap they buy the noodles for?” I giggled. That’s never a good sign. The noodles were far from al dente and could have been from any standard noodle pack at your nearest Nijiya market. The noodles softened before I was half way finished with my noodles.
Lackluster, burnt broth
Asking how they prepared the broth only reaffirmed my unfavorable opinion of it. The waiter I questioned called over another waiter who then answered, “we use pork bone and…prepare it for 2-3 hours…” He stuttered a bit, which is understandable! He wasn’t the chef. Either way, it’s hard to create a bold tonkotsu flavor with only 2-3 hours of preparation. I’m not sure if the burnt particles were intended for the bowl, but either way, it accentuated the ramen in a way it shouldn’t have.
Uneven seasoning in chashu, too much fat
At first I thought the fat in the chashu was too blubbery. A couple bites deep, the flavor and saltiness overloaded my tasted buds and alerted my mind to prepare for another–only to be disappointed from an unflavored, bland bite of chashu. This chashu brought a new surprise with each bite! The inconsistency put a frown upon my face.
It’s important to keep in mind that these opinions are all mine! If you enjoy it, that’s great. To me, it seemed like they put in the bare minimum to crafting this bowl of ramen. No thought was put into the actual art of making it. No time was carefully spent pulling out the noodles at the exact second, nor evenly seasoning the chashu! All they did was give their customers the option to add a spiciness level from 1-10. A high spicy level will blind the taste buds from the true flavor of the broth, which was inherently bland.
Globo’s Ultimate Rating: 2.0
Yelp Review: 4 Stars, 1108 Reviews
Location: 2441 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009