As historic rains fall, the temperature of your food needs to rise, and what’s warmer than a bowl of steaming ramen? And for all the times that vegetarians get left out of food guides and restaurant reviews, this one is for you: a list of the best vegetarian ramen in the city. Go forth and get your noodle on!
AKIRA RAMEN & IZAKAYA: It might be in Rockville, but this ramen is worth the shlep to the suburbs. The veggie has a light, savory vegetable broth and is chock full of vegetables including bok choy, mushrooms, bean sprouts and nori, which adds this deep seafood flavor without actually incorporating any seafood. The restaurant makes and ages their noodles in house which you can immediately tell upon tasting. The noodles are springy, light and chewy – exactly like they should be. Apparently the staff was trained in noodle making by Shuichi Kotani, a soba noodle master, which explains why their noodles have such great texture and flavor.
DAIKAYA: So when you eat Daikaya’s veggie ramen you can’t help but wonder: what makes it so damn good? Maybe it’s the shio broth, a warm, savory and almost creamy broth that is finished in the wok to give it extra flavor. Or maybe it’s the lovely, curly ramen noodles, imported straight from Sapporo, Japan. Or maybe it’s the medley of vegetables in the ramen: carrots, onions, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, and a pile of crunchy bean sprouts. By the time you get to the bottom of the bowl, you will have decided it doesn’t matter why it’s so good, you are just so glad you got to slurp it down.
FLOWER CHILD: The ramen at Flower Child, D.C.’s latest vegan restaurant, has a distinctive sesame miso broth, and comes with a host of vibrant veggies including bok choy, roasted corn, pickled cucumbers, and small pieces of tofu, rather than the large chunks you normally see.
HAIKAN: Probably my favorite vegetarian ramen in D.C. is at Haikan. The noodles, flown in from Sapporo, Japan, are known for their bouncy texture. The miso-infused broth of the vegetable ramen is silky and super savory, the perfect vehicle for the noodles and a host unami veggies like mushrooms, corn, bean sprouts, spring onions, and nori. Be sure to get the spice bomb. Because all things in life are better with a spice bomb.
JINYA RAMEN: Jinya actually offers two veggie ramen options which means it gets a gold star from all vegetarians. My preference is the “spicy and creamy” one. Velvety, sublime, and full of curly ramen noodles, tofu, and veggies, it is delicious. The crispy onions on top give the dish a crunchy element, and you can choose from a list of extra toppings like corn, seaweed, bean sprouts, and bamboo shoots to add. The other vegetarian ramen has a more silky smooth broth, and is topped with heartier veggies like mushrooms and cauliflower.
OKI BOWL DC: Spicy and dense is the best way to describe the ramen at Oki Bol, where the vegetarian ramen is made with kimchi, nori, scallions, tofu, and of course a heap of ramen noodles. Choose from additional toppings like mushrooms and corn.
REN’S RAMEN: It may be out of the way (it’s in Wheaton) but it is worth the trip. This hole-in-the-wall does not have the charm of the other spots in D.C., but it does have damn good ramen. The light, flavorful broth is a shio broth, which like Daikaya’s is a salt-flavored seaweed broth. Piled high with onions, seaweed, cabbage, scallions, carrots, and bean sprouts, it is texturally fantastic. The noodles come from Sapporo, Japan and are aged to perfection.
SAKURAMEN: The vegetarian ramen at Sakuramen is unlike any other in the city, and one of the most delicious. The kombu broth is a seaweed broth that has a great, robust, almost meaty flavor. The sweet corn, green onions, menma (bamboo shoots), and hearty mushrooms are the perfect vegetables for the broth, as is the pile of perfectly made ramen noodles. Vegetarians can also enjoy their soy-marinated mushroom buns, which are seriously awesome.
TOKI UNDERGROUND: The ramen at Toki Underground is Taiwanese ramen, markedly different than the ramen at Daikaya, which is specifically Japanese ramen. Equally as good, the Taiwanese ramen is made with a silky, smooth broth and combined with pickled cucumber, daikon, scallions, mushrooms, ramen noodles and, best of all, fried tofu. It is warm and soulful and utterly satisfying. But save room for their made-to-order chocolate chip cookies, which are warm, gooey, and equally as irresistible as the ramen.
This guide was originally published December 11, 2014. It was updated July 8, 2019.