I spend some time every week to browse #DCfoodporn instagram accounts to keep up with the latest and tasiest in DC. It’s my version of Keeping up with the Kardashians. One day I came across a photo of a waffle with uni and ikura on top and thought this is either going to be a disaster or pure genius but I have to have it. Thanks to location tags on the gram, it led me to yet another ramen bar, Yona.
There is something incredibly welcoming when you walk into Yona. Perhaps it’s the size of the room, which isn’t so small you’re scared to move, but not so big that you have to yell to be heard. It could also be the minimalistic design of the restaurant with high wooden beams that match the simple wooden tables and an open kitchen where you can see the chefs prepping dishes. Between the whale on the custom mat when you walk in and the wooden beams you would think you’re on Noah’s Ark. The afternoon light coming through the floor to ceiling windows is STUNNING, so for all you grammers out there, make sure you plan your trip accordingly. But enough about the space, you only care about the food.
I do love a visually stunning menu. Yona does a great job of organizing and presenting their food in words. I mean a menu’s job is to sell, and baby this can sell. I started off with the Santino because I love a good grapefruit cocktail. Cocktails here are generous, and trust me I do love a good sized cocktail for lunch. The Santino was perfect and mind you I’m not the biggest fan of gin but this was like drinking juice with a wonderful kick.
Now to start we ordered the bean sprout salad by recommendation of our waitress. We also got an order of the dry-fried wings and of course the uni waffle. The salad was wonderful, very light and refreshing. It’s nice to have a salad that doesn’t have avocado or kale, you know? The wings were very delicious as well, I could have finished off a dozen of those without any shame.
I wasn’t impressed with the uni waffle. It was good, don’t get me wrong, I mean who says no to caviar, ikura, and uni in one bite? It just wasn’t working for me. The texture of the taramasalata with all the other soft ingredients just didn’t give the plate enough dimension. I’m probably getting booed at but oh well, moving on to the mains.
Luckily, I was with three other people so between the four of us we were able to order all four ramen dishes that were available at the time. I got the ja-jang instead of ramen because I wasn’t actually in the mood for ramen. Though, after tasting my compadre’s bowls, they were a tad too salty for me and I love salt. As for the ja-jang, I do love a good black bean based sauce, but this one could have used a little more flavor. I also do with that the squid wasn’t poached as it is too soft. I’m not quite sure what’s with the overly soft textures at Yona.
By the end of the noodle slurping I was in need of something to cleans the palette and ordered dessert. The miso apple panna cotta was perfect and probably a top favorite. It was the perfect end to a meal that went off with a bang and then slowly started to lose steam. If it’s on the menu I highly recommend. Though the noodle dishes are the main attractions, I think the real stars of the show are the small plates. They’re creative and delicious without being pretentious, which is just the kind of thing this city needs.
Recommendations: The bean sprout salad and the miso apple dessert.
Pass: Sadly, the uni waffle. I’m glad I tried it but I wasn’t wowed. Just do it for the insta and get on with things.
When you should come here: If you’re looking for a casual setting but a slightly more sophisticated menu, oh and a good cocktail.
Verdict: I think Yona does their small plates better than their bowls of ramen. The small plates are much more memorable than the ramen.