Vegans might have visited Adams Morgan's Taan to eat ramen this winter, only to find the only way to make the borscht-like vegetarian ramen vegan was to forgo the noodles and the beets. By then, well, it isn't exactly ramen anymore, is it?
But after some tinkering in the kitchen, chef Jonathan Moto Bisagni has added vegan ramen to the menu, and this veggie-loaded bowl has little in common with that cherry-hued vegetarian soup.
Modeled after porky, fatty tonkotsu ramen, this beast of a broth has a thick, creamy consistency. Credit fresh soy milk, procured from the local vendor who makes Taan's tofu, that is spiked with ginger and crunchy garlic chips, scallion, hemp oil and hemp seed for a bowl that's so rich, you might consider splitting it with a pal.
Bisagni says the vegan soup is the first step toward offering diners at Taan a separate vegan menu. Until then, he says, he's made a few starters that can be vegan with a modification or two, including a chewy mochi with a sugar-based chili jam, and a onigiri rice ball that can be stuffed with veggies instead of the usual mackerel (pictured at right). For Taan's ramen, going vegan meant swapping in curly, chewy egg-free noodles from New Jersey's Sun Noodle, suppliers of the usual ramen for Taan (and for such esteemed restaurants as Momofuku in New York).
Vegan ramen can also be found at a few other D.C. ramen houses, including Sakuramen and Daikaya, both of which load up their broth with seaweed and mushrooms. For those looking for vegan pho, Pho 14 has long offered a vegan bowl, made with an apple-based broth.