Quick Hits – Toki Underground, Washington, D.C.

I’m not usually the biggest noodle soup fan, and that applies to Pho, Ramen, whatever.  It tends to never give me that satisfying full feeling after I’m done.  Toki Underground changed that.

Located on the growing H Street corridor in Washington, D.C., Toki Underground’s entrance is kind of hidden.  Look for The Pug dive bar and the door to Toki Undergound will be on the left.  Despite the name, the restaurant is located upstairs.  It’s not large so there will be a wait; leave them your cell number and they’ll send a text when your seat is ready while you wait with a hipster beer downstairs in The Pug.

When we were seated, our waiter thoroughly explained all the items on the menu and gave us an overview of how each ramen was different (along with his personal favorites).  I went for the Taipei Curry Chicken Ramen, and my friend got the Red Miso Ramen.  Both were excellent.  I preferred the broth in my Taipei Curry Chicken as it was a bit creamier than her Red Miso, which was a little saltier with that miso taste.  The pork belly however in hers was a little better than the chicken (though the chicken was still very good and I devoured it happily).

As for the cocktails, you gotta try the Toki Monster if you’re a whiskey person.  It’s essentially their version of an Old Fashioned, however they give you a little pork belly skewer to pair the libation with and it is a banging combination of delicious.  I definitely plan on going back to try the other items on their menu.  Toki Underground — well worth a visit.

Taipei Curry Chicken Ramen
Taipei Curry Chicken Ramen

Fatty Crab

West Village location
643 Hudson Street
New York, NY

Monday – Wednesday | Noon to Midnight
Thursday & Friday | Noon to 2AM
Saturday | 11AM to 2AM
Sunday | 11AM to Midnight

Upper West Side location
2170 Broadway
New York, NY

Monday – Wednesday | Noon to 11PM
Thursday – Saturday, Noon to Midnight
Sundays | Noon to 10PM
Happy Hour | Monday – Friday, 4pm to 7PM

If Tao was the big, glitzy dinner, then the Fatty Crab was the opposite of that.  Located in the West Village (with a second location in the Upper West Side), the Fatty Crab is a small shack serving some of the most unique Malaysian-Thai hybrid food I’ve ever tried.  With seating for only about 30 (and about 6 at the bar) in the dark and intimate hut, you should expect to wait a little bit for a table if you’re a party bigger than 2.   Not to worry though, there are seats outside the restaurant and when we arrived there was a little crowd out there with their libations in hand (Note: Not totally sure if them drinking on the sidewalk outside the restaurant was legal, but they were going for it).

My buddy and I took a seat at the bar, which offers a full menu as well.  The menu is very small with only a handful of entrees and appetizers.  We got some recommendations from the bartender, who was more than happy to answer any questions we had about the food all night.  For starters, we gave the pork steamed buns a try.  Now these aren’t like the typical pork steamed buns you might get at Dim Sum in Chinatown; these required assembly.  The buns shaped like flattened donuts and we had to put the chunks of pork, along with what I think was plum sauce, and cabbage on top of it.  From there it was a little awkward trying to fold it up like a taco because it was so bulky, but it was damn tasty even as messy as it was.

For our entrees, we tried the Nasi Lemak and Beef Rendang.  Of those two, the Nasi Lemak was the far more bizarre one.  The dish consists of a platter of some of the craziest flavors put together.  There’s a large chicken leg, that tasted like it was slow cooked and it came off the bone with ease.  The chicken was on top of coconut rice that we were instructed to mix with the poached egg on the plate.  Also on the plate was a fish paste called “otak” which was on top of these spicy, sardine eggs (or something crunchy that was fishy).  I didn’t mind the fishiness of the paste, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the spicy sardine eggs.  I liked the spice, but the sardine part was just one step too salty, fishy for me.

The Beef Rendang was the more traditional looking dish, but just a tasty.  The dish was made up of short ribs that were braised in lemongrass chili and it came with an interesting sweet paste.  The short ribs were very good, a tad bit over cooked for my taste, but still tender, and very savory.

The restaurant is a good example of a place having a small menu, but doing each item very well.  All it all, it’s a great little place to try some exotic flavors, or to take a date who doesn’t mind a little adventure in their meal.  Grade: B+