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The Reheat Index takes one of the District’s favorite foods and sends it through the microwave. Some meals will rise again, delicious and transformed, others will fall apart when faced with electromagnetic radiation.
Where: Toki Underground, 1234 H St. NE
The Dish: Kimchi ramen. This year, Washington City Paper named it among the 50 dishes you’ve got to try in its annual Food Issue. When my bowl arrived, it appeared as its own beautiful ecosystem of noodles, pulled pork, Chinese mustard greens, kimchi, gelatinous egg, red pickled ginger, and nori, swimming in a hot spicy broth. Spooning up rich egg yolk mixed with broth, sweating through crunchy greens and pickled ginger, I have to agree with the critics: This is distinct, filling, and fun to eat.
To go please! Just in case, I brought my own Tupperware. There’s no way anyone else leaves the most popular ramen in the city unfinished. But actually, the staff was totally prepared: my bowl was whisked away and expertly placed into two separate containers—one broth and one with everything else. The waiter told us this prevents the noodles from getting “soggy.” After five bumpy miles on the bike trip home, there was not even a hint of a leak.
Time Cooked: 24 hours later, two minutes in the microwave, uncovered.
The Reheatening: Peering into my containers, I feared I would find an unholy mass of solidified broth. But aside from some general ooze, the kimchi ramen broth essentially resembled what I ate the night before. In my haste to reassemble my ramen, I did not surgically return every ounce of broth to my bowl. This had a big impact on the finished product since the peppery bits stuck to my plastic to-go container. As a result, the reheated flavor of the broth embodied a lot more of the kimchi’s pickled punch. The physical kimchi pieces weren’t as pungent though, and the remaining egg and greens were bit players to the more complex broth. While my noodles weren’t as stretchy and fun to play with as the first night, they were delicious and intact—not at all soggy.
Warm Up Points (1-5): 4. Really impressed with Toki’s takeout forethought. Most restaurants seem to shovel food into box and send you on your way. Combined with an already generous portion, the kimchi ramen is worth saving for a second day.
Photo of kimchi ramen at Toki Underground by Megan Arellano