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🙂 = High chairs available. No tangible kids menu but they do offer kid size portions and hold the veggies as a courtesy to the little ones. Plus, there are a number of appetizers that would appeal to finicky palates. Plenty of space to maneuver a stroller. Friendly service.

🙁 = No changing tables. No kids eat free. Server knowledge could stand some improvement.

Notes: Only open for dinner Tue-Sun 4P-10P. Hopefully, they’ll extend their hours to include lunch in the future. Closed Mondays.

Tips: They’re a new establishment with new employees still trying to find their footing so be easy on them. We’re all entitled to exceptional and knowledgeable service but no one reserves the right to belittle and demean another human being trying their best to do their job.

Today was no lazy Sunday afternoon. It was the last day of the Arlington County Fair so we decided to head on over after I woke up from my daily beautification nap. I hadn’t been in two years and, man, did it blow up! There were so many more things to do, and it was packed! They even had a Ben’s Chili Bowl stand set up! How gangsta is that?! But Mamito and Dadito had already established that tonight would be a ramen night. However, there was a Dilemma – drive into the city for some Daikaya which they already knew was the bomb diggy or try a new spot, Gaijin, a couple of minutes away. They opted for the latter. I mean, ladder. Whatever. The last one.

I was excited about this place for the same amount of reasons as years I’d been alive.

  1. It’s a new ramen joint that just opened about a month ago. And if you read my Totto Ramen piece about my first “true ramen” experience you’d know that I am now and forever a fanboy of those delicious noodles. It’s seriously the best thing to come out of Japan since my Nintendo DS
  2. It’s just a few doors down from Lola and Lolo’s (Grandma and Grandpa’s) store, Philippine Oriental Market.
  3. I didn’t have to feel guilty about making dad drive into the city and struggle looking for parking whenever I had a ramen craving. But really, who am I kidding? I never feel guilty about making the old man do things for me.

We met up with daddio’s old high school buddy, Uncle Big C, who said something that made me chuckle. He said he couldn’t believe he was going out to eat ramen. And when dad asked him what he meant, he said, “I’m used to eating 10 packs of ramen for a buck. Not one bowl for 10 bucks.”  Ahhhh, my Uncle C. Such a knucklehead. A complete novice. It made me recall the days when I was a ‘true ramen’ virgin such a long time ago. Okay, so it’s only been two weeks. Sue me. I’m three. I have a skewed concept of time. But now? Now, I had a mission – to make Uncle Big C a believer in the almighty ramen. And I was hoping Gaijin would deliver.

When we walked in, the first thing I noticed was all the cool 3D wall art. There was one that we all thought was a dragon at first glance but quickly realized it was a spilled bowl of the good stuff!

Wall Art

Gaijin Ramen bringin’ the wall art funk!

We were immediately greeted by a nice lady who, when she saw my baby bro, was excited to share that she just learned how an upside-down high chair could be used as a car seat holder. I was charmed by her innocence. She was charmed by devilishly good looks. And my little bro’s. Which pops tells us on the regular are obvious paternal, genetic hand-me-downs.

Fatherly-self-gratification aside, our waitress explained the menu and mentioned, before my folks could ask, that they also had kid size portions which eliminated any traces of the green junk – veggies. Uh, yes please! I’ll take one of those. So we all got the tonkotsu (rich and creamy pork broth). Dad and Uncs got theirs spicy for a dollar more. As well, my geriatric companions got add-ons (anywhere from $1-$2 per item). Everyone got the seasoned egg. Moms and Uncle C got extra pork belly since they read on Yelp that each bowl only came with one slice of pork. I opted to keep it simple – noodles, broth, and pork.

Tonkotsu ramen

Isn’t she beautiful?

When the food came out, pops (who didn’t order extra meat) had three generous slices of pork. He was hoping it would be belly. But this cut was leaner with little, if any, fat. But he didn’t sweat it since he was only expecting one slice of meat. So this was still a victory. Everyone, including myself LOVED their food. Everyone, that is, except for Debbie Downer herself, mom dukes. She found the broth too salty. But she was outnumbered. I know what ‘too salty’ tastes like, and this was far from it. I thought it was perfect. Uncs and dad thought it was perfect too. Sorry ma. You lose. Dad even went so far as to say he was pleasantly surprised. He wasn’t expecting much after jading his thoughts with varied Yelp reviews. This broth actually had soul. Japanese soul. Not the Yoko Ono screaming-out-of-tune-nonsense-with-disregard-for-iambic-pentameter soul. No. This? This was the Pushim strong-woman-smooth-as-silk-only-good-vibes kind of soul.

Tonkotsu ramen

Forks are overrated

My only criticism was that our waitress seemed a little nervous and unsure about a couple of small things here and there. But to her credit, she was super nice and sought help from her coworkers if she didn’t have an answer to one of our questions. Oh, and the bartender poured a Jameson neat in a chilled glass which is a no-no in my dad’s book. But again, they were new to the scene, and we understood that. In the end, ramen won. Yet again. That’s all that mattered. And my mission was accomplished. Uncle Big C was the newest convert to the ramen faithful.

Gaijin is definitely a nice little spot to check out. And we’ll be rooting hard for their success!

3800 Lee Highway

Arlington, VA 22207

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