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Spicy miso ramen, anyone?

Spicy miso ramen, anyone?

Hanabi Ramen
Grab Bag

Turning Bytes to Bites at Hanabi Ramen

(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.

Kenji Hisatsune

Kenji Hisatsune

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.

Chicken karaage donburi as the perfect side.

Chicken karaage donburi as the perfect side.

Hanabi Ramen

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.

Details Matter

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

Attire: Casual

Try: Spicy Miso Ramen - with the marinated soft-boiled egg; the gyoza (dumplings) feature a crunchy skin and soft, moist filling

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