Ramen experts may scoff at chicken ramen and fried chicken, and newbies may not get the hype, but on June 10 Bantam King, from the guys at Daikaya Ramen and Izakaya, was a huge hit at its grand opening last week.
So who are the guys behind this new kind of ramen shop? Partners Daisuke Utagawa, executive chef Katsuya Fukushima, and Yama Jewayni, and they are on a mission to bring inventive, mouthwatering Japanese food, specifically Sapporo ramen, ramen, to D.C. The genesis of this eatery came about during development and inspiration trips the team made to Japan during the planning phase of Daikaya.
As they ate their way across Tokyo and other parts of Japan, Daisuke says he began “...noticing and experiencing an increase in the popularity of chicken ramen shops in Japan.” Along with the popularity of the light, crispy fried chicken places popping up everywhere, Daisuke thought it was time to bring this kind of food to D.C.
Located at 501 G Street NW, in D.C.’s Chinatown, and just steps away from Daikaya, the new spot has space for 50 diners and is already bustling. The light, cheerful space is a departure from the darker, more traditional design scheme at Daikaya and is more vibrant with bright blue and yellow accents, Japanese paper lanterns, and a fun, whimsical touch to the décor.
Naturally, the line up of ramen from executive chef Katsuya Fukushima will focus on chicken with a range of rotating Chintan, or consommé-style chicken ramen, along with an assortment of flavor-packed Paitan ramen, but there is also a vegetarian option as well. For delicious, crunchy, flavorful chicken—and drama—order the fried chicken. Only available family style for $24 a pop, it arrives at the table piled on a silver platter accompanied by a rotating assortment of side dishes that will appeal to fans of both Japanese and Southern foods. Look for Japanese potato salad, coleslaw, mac & cheese, biscuits, corn on the cob, baked beans, mashed potatoes, and more.
To quench your thirst, King Bantam is serving a range of quirky American and Japanese soft drinks like UCC Hawaii Kona Blend Coffee, Yoohoo, Tab, RC Cola, Green Tea Can, Calpico Can, Melon Crème Soda, and Ramune Original. If you want something with an ABV rating, there are Japanese and craft beers, sake and shochu, and just maybe, there could be a couple of draft cocktails in the not too distant future. If you find yourself fighting back gluttonous tendencies don’t worry; in Japan, it’s acceptable to say, “Oooiiishii!” with your mouth full when you dine.
For more Washington DC dining and travel news, click here. Summer Whitford is the D.C. Editor and a food, drink and travel writer at The Daily Meal. You can follow her on Twitter @FoodandWineDiva and on Instagram at thefoodandwinediva.