(This post was sponsored by Hanabi Ramen, where you’ll find the best bowl of ramen this side of the International Date Line.)
A few years ago, the late Steve Jobs turned to Kenji Hisatsune to bring Pac-Man to his iPhone.
You should turn to Hisatsune for a great bowl of ramen.
Hisatsune is the owner/operator of Hanabi Ramen, a noodle joint a few dozen feet from the Clarendon Metro Station in Arlington. He faithfully dishes out bowls of the house specialty of Tonkatsu ramen, a hearty concoction of thinly sliced pork, scallions and pork-bone broth that originates from Hisatsune’s hometown, Fukuoka.
Ramen is his passion and bringing it to diners in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor has been his pleasure for the past two years.
“We believe soup and noodles are meant for each other,” he said.
A Former Life
Yet not so long ago, Hisatsune was part of a different community - rubbing elbows with technology elites in Silicon Valley. He was the CEO of several prominent video game makers including Namco Bandai, which owned the license to Pac-Man.
Yeah, that Pac-Man - starring the yellow orb that you prodded to binge-eat dots and ghosts at an arcade near you.
‘I Want Pac-Man’
Which brings us to Jobs, whom the world knows as the fanatical co-founder of Apple and whom Hisatsune came to know as a fanatical Pac-Man fan.
One day, Hisatsune got a phone call from Jobs, who had just three words for the video game maker: “I want Pac-Man.”
Hisatsune converted Pac-Man into a game that could be played on iPhones at the urging of Jobs, who was a quality-assurance tester for the game when he worked at Atari in the ’70s. The feedback was brutal because Jobs noticed if a detail wasn’t just right on the iPhone version of the game.
“He noticed everything because he was a QA on the game,” Hisatsune said.
Hisatsune is just as much of a perfectionist on each bowl of ramen he personally serves. The broth is beautifully balanced, the noodles are delicately boiled - not soft and soggy - keeping its shape and complementing the thinly sliced pork nicely.
Hanabi Ramen, 3024 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22201
Hours: Open at 11:30 am, seven days a week; close at 9:30 pm Monday-Saturday; 9 pm Sunday
Metro Station: Clarendon (Orange and Silver Lines)
Parking: Street parking available on Wilson and Clarendon Boulevards, and immediate side roads; there’s also a parking garage on Fillmore Street just north of Wilson Boulevard
Menu: Via Yelp
Price Range: $11-$30
Try: Spicy Miso Ramen - with the marinated soft-boiled egg; the gyoza (dumplings) feature a crunchy skin and soft, moist filling