Courtesy of Momo Yakitori
Courtesy of Momo Yakitori

You’re in really good hands when it comes to selecting which cup ramen you want to slurp in Momo Yakitori‘s revamped basement bar. One of the new Woodridge restaurant’s servers, Yasutaka “Ume” Umemoto, also works as a store manager at Hana Market. If you’ve been to the Japanese cubbyhole on U Street NW, you know how intentionally the market stocks its shelves with rainbow colored cartons of instant noodles.

“The whole idea for downstairs was for it to be a waiting lounge with snacks,” says co-owner Andrew Chiou. That’s where the owners planned to stash guests waiting to taste the restaurant’s skewered meats and vegetables. But when they heard Umemoto was eager to open a cup ramen bar of his own, they offered him the space. “He knows everything there is to know about cup ramen,” Chiou says. “He eats that every day.”

The bar is hoping to stock 100 different types of cup ramen, including some rarities. They’ll cost a few dollars each, and you will be able to upgrade your selection by asking the bartenders to use heated chicken stock instead of boiling water. You can also add an egg to your cup. But please heed this public service announcement from the staff and keep in mind that this isn’t a full-fledged, fancy ramen bar. 

Chiou’s business partner and girlfriend Masako Morishita hails from Kobe, Japan. She has two favorite cup ramen varieties: chicken ramen and Sapporo Ichiban shio ramen. “Of course all of the flavors are amazing, but for me it brings lots of memories back and it’s almost nostalgic,” she says. “When my parents were busy with their liquor store, we ate cup ramen together for lunch and I used to eat it as a late night snack studying for my exams.” 

Photo of downstairs bar courtesy Momo Yakitori

Bartenders are currently whipping up cocktails they think will pair well with cup ramen before the bar opens this weekend. Guests can visit the bar Fridays through Mondays. While the kitchen closes around 10:30 p.m. in the upstairs yakitori restaurant, the downstairs bar will stay open until around midnight. Monday is a new evening for Momo Yakitori; the restaurant was previously only open Fridays through Sundays.

The partners want to create the appropriate ambiance in their new bar concept, so they’ll set up a projector that will play anime movies with sound. “You’ll hear people yelling at each other in Japanese,” Chiou says.

Momo Yakitori, 2214 Rhode Island Ave. NE;