After a delicious ramen experience at Sakuramen when I last visited Washington D.C. in 2018 I was excited to check out somewhere new and see what else the city had to offer.
It was only after walking a considerable distance that I found out that the place I’d had my sights set on, Kaiju Ramen, was closed. Google Maps tried its hardest to send me to Torai Sushi, but that wasn’t going to cut it! I needed that silky broth!
Venturing a little further afield, I decided to head to Basebowl Ramen (or here on Instagram). Walking in Washington DC igenerally means seeing lots of cool places, but the route from Capital Hill to Navy Yard was pretty uninspiring.
I liked the pun (this restaurant is directly opposite the Washington Nationals baseball stadium) but was ultimately a little disappointed with my experience.
The main issue that I had with Basebowl Ramen was the portion size. The bowl was physically much smaller than many others, so whilst I added some additional toppings it felt more like a snack than a meal. Fortunately, I had clocked the small bowls on arrival so I also ordered the ume karrage (plum fried chicken) and didn’t leave hungry, but don’t think it needed the sweet chilli sauce as well as the spicy mayonaise.
I’m not ignorant of the fact that these noodles are essentially designed for the mass market of spectators heading to, or leaving from, a baseball game. Ramen is actually a genius idea for that because it’s quick, filling and easy to offer customisation options. It was highly possible that the noodles could have been sat soaking up sauce for too long to retain their bite. However, these weren’t bad noodles in terms of quality, although the egg was perhaps on the hard-boiled end of jammy.
Basebowl offer a wide variety of different options, each with some kind of baseball name (Switch Hitter, Batter’s Favourite and Strike Out). I chose to keep things simple with the signature tonkotsu broth and some added corn. The pork belly, floating in a (small) pool of creamy broth, was fatty and melted in my mouth.
The service in the restaurant was friendly and my ‘server’ (that’s an American term which I’m not sure I’m entirely onboard with) was helpful and attentive. The interior of the restaurant was modern, with a central bar in prime position to watch sports on big screens. A bunch of people in one corner were enjoying a speciality happy-hour sake bomb, which I have to admit that I regret not trying.
Overall, I’d rate my experience at Basebowl Ramen a 2 out of 5. The service and atmosphere were nice, the noodles overall tasted good, but the overdone egg and the small portion size mean points are docked. That being said, it’s always worth trying out new restaurants. I don’t regret eating there, just begrudge paying normal ramen prices for 50% of the product.