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Ramen Restaurant Coming to Ballston

4000 Wilson Blvd, the future home of Pepita, Kapnos Taverna and Yona (photo via Google Maps)Another restaurant owned by Top Chef contestant Mike Isabella is coming to 4000 Wilson Blvd in Ballston, but this one will be focused on ramen noodles and Japanese food.

The restaurant will be called Yona, and unlike the under-construction Kapnos Taverna and Pepita, Isabella won’t be found anywhere near the kitchen. Instead, Jonah Kim — formerly the executive chef at PABU Izakaya, now closed, in Baltimore — will bring his take on the traditional noodle dish to Ballston, with a planned opening in spring 2015.

“The restaurant is going to focus around ramen,” Kim told ARLnow.com today. “It’s like Asian comfort food. Noodles and broth, it’s the Asian spaghetti and meatballs. The perception of ramen is like the cheap college kid, that’s what you’re surviving on, but ramen is such a huge tradition in Japan.”

Jonah Kim (photo by Greg Powers)During the lunch hour — which Kim expects to be busy, based on the number of offices in the surrounding area — the menu will feature quick dishes and takeout. In the evening, the 1,500-square-foot space will become more of a sitdown restaurant. Kim said the number of ramen dishes on the menu will shrink and there will be more small plates available.

The restaurant will also have a full bar, with sake, shochu and Japanese whiskey, along with cusotm cocktails, Kim said.

While ramen has become a trendy restaurant specialty in New York, the District and even border jurisdictions in Northern Virginia, when it opens, Yona is believed to be the first ramen-focused restaurant in Arlington. Kim says Ballston is the perfect spot for it.

“I think the dining scene is definitely growing with everything else,” Kim said. “We’re about offering more choices to the neighborhood. I think the demographic there works for this kind of concept as well. I think that whole area is dying for more food, more dining options.”

Isabella is now highly invested in the area, and in a press release he said that Yona will be another component of bringing Ballston to the forefront of the restaurant scene in the D.C. metropolitan area.

“The Ballston food scene is growing as fast as its business district,” he said in the release. “By the time we’re done, Ballston will be the next dining destination for Northern Virginia and D.C.”

Photo (top) via Google Maps. Photo (bottom) by Greg Powers.

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