Cheap Date: Samurai Noodle

This isn’t your two-for-a-quarter, college dorm ramen.

By Nick Feldman October 28, 2009


The original plan was to scope out Zhivago’s Café, a new Russian/Middle Eastern eatery that was slated to open last week next to Bailey Coy bookstore on Broadway. No dice—inspections have prevented that from happening until November 1.

So instead we found ourselves at an old cheap eats standby: the adored ramen spot Samurai Noodle. This isn’t the two-for-a-quarter ramen you make in a college dorm, and although it’s next to Uwajimaya Village, don’t expect food court fare. The noodles and broths found here teem with complexity and flavor. Just ask the crowds that regularly fill the small eatery to capacity—testament to its status as one of the International District’s best noshing spots. (And soon to be one of the best in the U District, too. We’re told a second Samurai outpost will be opening on the Ave anytime after late November.)

Most items on the menu range from $6.75 to $8 and accommodate all types of spice, broth, meat, and noodle preferences. If your stomach is really growling, extra noodles are available for $1.50—but believe us, you need them. The same goes for the extra meat helpings.

With a $10 bill, I opted for the tonkotsu. After my first sip of the rich pork broth I was grateful I heeded the advice of the employees who told me this was the must-try item. The al dente noodles were perfectly firm (you can order them medium or soft as well, though I wouldn’t recommend it), and the thick slice of pork was so tender that it literally fell apart in my chopsticks. Sugoi.

Turns out our little detour wasn’t so disastrous after all.

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