My husband and I went here for a quick bite to eat and it sure was quick. We were sat in the bar area right away, there was no wait and this was during a Thursday evening at 5:45. Our server brought us our menu and we picked out our bowls. This was our first time here and we just picked some random noodle soups bc we felt a little rushed. People were going in and out quickly in the noodle bar. Our server was really heloful to others that came in after us. He suggested lots of choices and brought out sauces for other to put in their ramen bit didn't do any of this with us. The environment is super trendy with very loud music blaring. I ordered the Shuyo Ramen dish and it was OK. I was raised to eat many noodle soup dishes on a regular basis and this was just OK. The broth is very rich and sweet. I think there was too much soy sauce in the broth. Too sweet for my liking. The noodles were absolutely delicious. They were perfectly cooked. The soft boiled eggs were also really good. We also ordered the Spicy Miso. This was much better than the Shuyo, still rich but not as potent. This soup was a slightly sour and had the same delicious ramen noodles. If you want a quick bite to eat with one or two people then I would suggest going. I think most people would like eating the ramen here but it was just not for us.
This place is an institution in Foggy Bottom so I'm surprised to be the first one reviewing it. We go to the Magic Gourd fairly regularly and the food is consistently good. Portion sizes are generous and the drinks are too. Part of the appeal is the cheers bar like atmosphere where the wait staff are friendly and remember what you like to eat and drink. The pan fried dumplings are a favorite as an appetizer and you can't go wrong with any of the entrees. Wasn't a huge fan of the dan dan noodles - way too much skippy p-nut butter taste but everything else has been very good. Prices reasonable too. Lots of State Dept and WHO workers hang in the bar area but no problem with that - adds to the fun of the place. Other times it can be very quiet.
The fish was top-notch. Dinner for two, with a bottle of wine, was about $100. We ordered everything off the special menu (figured it would be freshest). We had the scallop nigiri with an apple reduction of sorts, the mackerel nigiri, a toro nigiri of sorts, two orders of the walu nigiri, and tempura clams with green tea salt, served beautifully in a clam shell. I think it's the best sushi I've had in DC. Everything was fresh and delicious. The WALU was awesome, get it if it's on the menu. I went back a few days later and had the walu nigiri and 2 rolls (one tuna/cuke and one yellowtail/scallion) and thought it as great, and the basic rolls were a reasonable cost (around $5-6), so it doesn't have to be a pricey night.