If Ikea were to open a ramen shop in ones of its stores, it would probably look like Haikan, a Shaw spot complete with minimalist wooden chairs and tables, floor-to-ceiling windows, and waiters who take your order on iPads. It’s big, bright, and fits right in with the many places in Shaw trying to be trendy/down-to-earth/sustainable/accessible all at the same time. It’s one of those restaurants that was designed to be photogenic, but unlike a lot of the others, it’s good for more than just a photo opp.

Haikan brings something new to the table, even though there’s no shortage of places to get ramen in DC these days. It’s less intense than Toki Underground (doesn’t feel like a bunker) and less traditional than Daikaya (they come from the same chef, but Haikan has more variety). The small plates aren’t your typical ramen shop starters, so come here when you want to mix it up a bit. The poutine fries can be skipped, but the roasted squash and crab rangoons are good ways to pregame the main course. Emphasis on pregame, because the noodles are still the stars of the show. All the options are good, but we’re partial to the spicy shoyu and miso.

Haikan is laid-back but gets busy. It’s best for a weeknight dinner with a friend, casual date, or a solo meal at the bar. When it’s warm out, take advantage of the patio. But fair warning: it’s not quite as photogenic out there.

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