Chabuya on Sawtelle - Report =)
After a bad experience with the extremely salty broth when it first opened, we decided we'd give Chabuya another try, as it has been quite a few months now. And we were really glad we did.
We started out with the shrimp shumai, fresh with a slight crunch to it, maybe water chestnut?, and with a little dab of soy sauce, vinegar, hot oil and mustard, it made for some pretty good shumai - although it was a little soft overall, texture-wise.
I had the tsuke ramen, cold ramen noodles with bamboo, egg and pork on the side with a soy-based dipping sauce - very light and refreshing. The noodles had just the perfect consistency, buoyent chewy, al dente and not too soft.
My husband had the traditional ramen, the broth was excellent - full of body and flavor, the pork so tender, and the noodles, which were a different kind than the tsuke ramen, were cooked perfectly al dente as well. I think I like it better than Santouka - not as milky, I know it's a different style.
We finished dinner with a ginger ice cream which was light and sweet. It had a slight ginger flavor with tiny bits of ginger, but sweet. It tasted like the chinese ginger tofu dessert you get at dimsum, but in an ice cream. Or if you like ginger ale, not that it's that similar, but you shoudl definitely give it a try. I definitely recommend it - great for a summer day or evening.
Overall, we had a great meal and the restaurant itself wasn't too busy. We had mentioned to the waitress we went when it first opened and she too admitted, it was very poor then, but that they had finally worked out the kinks, but since it wasn't so good when it first opened, they lost a lot of customers.
So, if you haven't been in awhile, you should definitely give it another chance. We'll definitely be back!
Alice...YES! I really like Chabuya, and we have enjoyed every one of our several dinners there.
I have cringed when I have read other reports that were less than flattering. I held my breath when I started to read your review...I am hopeful that your positive experience will revive interest in this really good restaurant.
lol that's too fuuunny! my fellow rameniac bikuta actually mentioned going there recently and saying their broth had fallen off. ironically i went a week or so ago and it was... more or less the same to me (best on the westside but still could use some work). the waitress DID mention that they'd toned down the salt a bit. maybe it's just not all that consistent yet? either way, get the karakara ramen for that little bit of extra dimension ^^.
FYI my bf and I once sat at the counter at Chabuya. It was fun to watch the chef and an assistant prepare the ramen. At one point the chef left and the assistant was alone, he sprinkled some white powder from a tupper ware container in the soup bowls before adding the broth. We inquired as to what it was. His answer was that he wasn't sure, but he thought it was MSG, his boss had only called it "Magic Powder." He did say that you can ask the them not to put it in the soup. Having this experience has not stopped me from returning, I think it's a great product. I think the service gets slow and flubbed up if you order appetizers, but otherwise it's quick and attentive. I recently tried the cold noodles Alice mentioned and it is really delicious.
Thank you! It's nice to see Chabuya gaining some favor. I know one person who's predisposed to not like things (usually arbitrarily) and when I asked her if she liked Chabuya on my recommendation she said "Yes, but the portions are so stingy and the flavors are just okay."
She then proceeded to leave two thirds of her bowl of ramen at Asahi untouched, all the while complaining about the broth not being clear enough (she ordered miso?). SIGH. If you're going to throw away food, why not just eat somewhere with smaller tastier portions?
Long story short: Chabuya does have smaller portions, but the flavors and ramen are so much more refined than places like Asahi down the street or Orochan in Little Tokyo. It's not the place to take a starving frat boy, but do remember that for $1 you can get an extra bowl of plain ramen to add to your soup.