“Reren Lamen & Bar” Soft Opens in former Mehak space in Chinatown

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817 7th Street, NW

“Dear PoPville,

I was walking by the former Mehak Indian restaurant on 7th Street NW when I overheard someone say the new Asian restaurant in its place was having its soft opening on Sunday at 11:30 am. So, I stopped by. I may have been the first customer. The restaurant is named “Reren Lamen & Bar.”

I recalled the earlier misspellings spotted on a job flyer in the window of the same space and thought about gently telling them how to spell “ramen,” but all the staff had matching shirts with the word “Lamen” embroidered on them, and I somehow didn’t have the heart to say anything. I did, however, echo the belated idea of one waitress to put a copy of the menu in the window!

The menu is focused on noodles and dumplings, and the owner is from China. The staff seemed uncertain but super friendly and eager to please. They offered me free dessert. Clearly, this is a group of rather inexperienced folks, but the food was perfectly decent and pretty fairly priced, I thought. The ramen noodles were definitely homemade and were a good texture — not limp and soggy. I’ll go back.

I wish them luck!”

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16 Comment

    • This is Awkward

      Thanks for providing this PG. I’ve seen several more “traditional” noodle joints in NYC use the “lamen” spelling. The “R” sound as we know it isn’t really in Japanese and Mandarin, if anything “ramen” is the erroneous version/an attempt by native speakers to accommodate and incorporate it.

    • In pinyin (the official romanization of Mandarin) it is spelled lamian. It is pronounced lah myen. La means to pull. Mian means noodle. It’s a method used to create noodles from dough.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamian

      There is also something called daoxiao mian — knife sliced noodles — that I’ve unfortunately not found in DC.

      • Lamian and daoxiao are both delicious. Way better than the ramen you get all over town.
        I haven’t had daoxiao since I was last in China (8 years ago). The last place I went, the knifing guy could slice it off the block, have the noodle fly 20-25 feet across the kitchen and land perfectly in the boiler water pot. Yum yum yum!

  • Has it occurred to you that the spellings may be intentional?

  • Maybe they’re hoping to drive home the point that they are “authentic”?

  • I’ve seen it spelled lamen elsewhere, in Paris I think. It’s all a phonetic approximation anyway.

  • Is it sit-down or takeout? I work in the area and would love it if I could get ramen without having to sit in Daikaya in the middle of a workday.

  • Ashy Oldlady

    Putting the Lame in Ramen.

  • There may be a legitimate debate about “lamen” versus “ramen,” but if you want potential customers to understand what sort of establishment it is, I’d choose “ramen.” At least they put a menu up!

  • Smart marketing move. A differentiator that we’ll assume means more authentic that the other “ramen” shops popping up. If you’re like me, you were introduced to dry packaged ramen during your struggle days. lamen sounds like something worth paying 12 dollars a bowl for.

  • OP doesn’t know what the hell they are talking about. Ramen – Japanese. Lamen – Chinese. Asian countries share similar cuisines but are not the same. Doesn’t mean they all have to have the same name. If the owner is from China, then it’s very not likely Japanese Ramen, come on, have some common sense!

  • I’m definitely looking forward to trying this as I live just a couple blocks away.

  • As a former resident of Taiwan, I’m just chiming in to agree that the OP shouldn’t have been so quick to assume that “Lamen” was an “incorrect” spelling.
    I ate there last night & thought it was quite good. They are very friendly & do already offer takeout. It will be a month before they have a liquor license. They also only have noodles, dumplings, and appetizers right now–no non-noodle entrees, yet.
    I urge the OP to try it. A little bit of education never hurt anyone, eh?

    • OP here. I’ve been twice now. I’m not uneducated. I have an MA in Asian Studies, lived in Japan, and even studied Mandarin for a year. Given many other misspellings on the menu, I don’t think it was wrong to wonder about “Lamen” being a mistake. Not sure why someone would intentionally mention “ice cram,” a free “blow,” or a dish with pork “fly,” so I thought perhaps “lamen” was also an error. I like the restaurant and staff very much, by the way.

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