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New Top Ramen Contender!

The Little Tokyo Ramen Battle is about to heat up!

San Sui Tei, several doors down from Daikokuya on First Street, is giving Ye Olde Yellow Awning a serious run for its money.

A branch of a shop in Temple City has taken over the old Kobe Ramen (?) spot. Lovely Companion and I went in for a taste test today and were delighted by what we found. Run by Japanese, the tonkotsu is marvelous. "Can I have this in a coffee cup to go" I wondered to myself.

The menu has lots of ramen choices (miso, negi, etc), we opted for the "special" which came with 5 quivering pieces of roasted pork, so tender that teeth are optional. One also has a choice of kind of noodle (thick? or thin?). We opted for thin. Simply marvelous, chewy, tasty, yummy.

For kicks, we also elected for an order of octopus balls, Takoyaki, from the largish appetizer menu. They were crispy and light.

Dishes are cool, white modern. Service is friendly.

I encourage you to check it out! You won't be disappointed.


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  1. And takoyaki? If they're doing everything well, I think the Big S soon might be looking over their proverbial pork shoulder... I'm not in J-town very often anymore, but will give it a whirl if I am... SecretAsianMan - that's great - now I can't get that tune out of my head...

    1 Reply
    1. re: bulavinaka

      I definitely think its worth a trip..they're even open on Sundays.

    2. I wasn't to happy with my last visit to Daikokuya so I'm going to check this place out. Thanks!


      2 Replies
      1. re: Bon Vivant

        Hmmm. Nor was I, broth seemed a little less flavorful...

        Great blog!

        1. re: Bon Vivant

          our last visit to daikokuya was also a disappointment. the broth was still pretty good and intense, but the pork! the pork was dry and not nearly as fatty and tender as its been in the past. im so sad. well definitely have to check out san sui tei soon!

        2. kobe ramen was awful. the san sui tei in temple city is pretty decent, specializing in nagasaki-style champon. haven't tried the new branch yet but i see them open 'til 2am most nights, which is definitely a plus!

          1 Reply
          1. re: rameniac

            Yes, the Little Tokyo shop is much, much better than my memory of the Temple City shop.

            (its been a few years...)

          2. We went to Kyusha ramen, in Van Nuys today. We were very pleased, good noodles.

            5 Replies
              1. re: SecretAsianMan

                What should I get at Kyushu? I usually enjoy the shoyu and miso at Nippon Ramen in Reseda

                1. re: wizardx

                  ironically, i'd say the tonkotsu ramen at kyushu is a bit overrated. the soup is not bad, but the yellow egg noodles don't quite fit the broth. try it though if you're nowhere near hakata SSG...

                  1. re: rameniac

                    Agreed, Rameniac. While it has gotten better, Kyushu Ramen is just ok; noodles are not special. It's also never quite as hot as it should be. (To paraphrase Tampopo, "Ramen that's not hot is not ramen at all.")

                    Nippon Ramen served up a pretty good Shio-Butter ramen last time I was there.

              2. I've been obsessed with ramen ever since I got back from Japan in 03, so to hear there's another spot worth trying in downtown is music to my ears. I'm a bit surprised to hear Daiko's fallen off, but it's been a while since I've been there. Do they serve katamen (hard noodles) at San Sui Tei?

                1. Do they serve katamen at San Sui Tei?

                  If you mean, katayaki or sara udon, yes.

                  If you mean "al dente" also yes. They'll also ask you if you would like Thick or Thin noodles as well.

                  Its just great.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: SecretAsianMan

                    yeah San Sui Tei does katamen. i just asked for it the other day. it basically means "al dente", wherein they undercook the noodles a little bit so that they are firmer and thinner. i don't know if they actually USE two different kinds of noodles (thicker and thinner ones) but the net result from ordering katamen is normally a thinner strand. i'm guessing that ordering "thin" or "thick" is effectively ordering katamen or futsumen, or maybe even something overcooked and softer.

                  2. i agree in the decline in daikokuya. i actually asked about this and incquired whether there was an owndership change or change in recipe. the waitress said "the manager made a change in the recipe" i said "it tastes totally different" she asked "different good or bad" i said "different bad" she said, "i'll tell the manager" i havent been back since.

                    ill try this new joint out. i finally went to santouka on saturday with my girlfriend. it was pretty awesome but the noodles got overcooked as i got stuck behind obachan trying to figure out how to use her credit card while i was waiting in line to buy some oo-toro from the market (which they sliced for me by the way!) the oo-toro was awesome! and the broth was delicious!

                      1. re: Ciao Bob

                        I think right now they are open for dinner... I stopped by Lunch time on Sunday and they weren't open! *snif!* And no hours are listed at the door...


                        1. re: Ciao Bob

                          Yes, on the same side and a few doors down from Daikokuya, it's next to the sweet shop and doesn't have a permanent sign there, but it does have a canvas banner with the name and saying it serves Ramen and other Japanese Food. I'll be sure to go down in a few weeks after class... :) I must have fried octopus goodness!! :)


                        2. I'm sorry to hear they weren't open on Sunday. They were when we went...maybe they're still trying to figure it all out.

                          The octopus goodness is worth it! Crispy, light and flavorful.

                          1. I'm planning on trying San Sui Tei this week. I don't know if I like the idea of mixing takoyaki and ramen, but if they've got gyoza or fried rice, I'm game.

                            1. Address for San Sui Tei? And are they open on Sunday -- conflicting reports here...

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Silverlaker

                                Well, Daikokuya is at 327 East 1st Street in LA, and San Sui Tei is on the same side of the block. Find parking, find that yellow awning that signals Daikokuya, and look up and down 1st a couple of doors.

                              2. Hard to imagine that a ramen-ya on First Street in LA wouldn't be open for lunch during the week, tho...

                                1. I phoned to get clarity on the hours

                                  Address for San Sui Tei:

                                  313 E. 1st Street
                                  LA 90012
                                  213 613 0100

                                  Tues-Thurs + Sunday: 11 to 3, Dinner: 5 to 12
                                  Friday/Saturdays 11am to 2am
                                  Closed Mondays

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: SecretAsianMan

                                    Thanks SAM!! I hope next sunday they are open! :)


                                  2. Thanks -- I have yet to try either of these places as I'm rarely downtown these days, but been craving ramen. Hmm. Wonder which I'll try first. Thanks for the info!

                                    1. my basic take on san sui tei, now that i've been there, is that it's a chabuya clone. from the decor right down to the shape of the bowls and the type of ramen they're trying to make. i'd be willing to give them the benefit of the doubt if they were less obvious about it, but even the cook seemed to be referencing chabuya a lot in our conversation. i'd be more forgiving if it was particularly good ramen, but i can't really get into it as the tonkotsu soup is too thin and insubstantial for what it is trying to be, although the noodles are decent if you order "katamen."

                                      the original san sui tei in temple city specializes in champon. to me, with the new shop at least, it seems as though they just tried to dress up the recipe a bit by copying chabuya's style and toppings and calling it spicy tonkotsu ramen.

                                      will i go back? they're fairly new so if they get into their groove and up the originality a bit i just might. are they the best in little tokyo? although daikokuya may have fallen off, i'd have to say "meh." i'd be more inclined to go to orochon and hanaichimonme for decent light broth shio and shoyu instead of SST for mediocre tonkotsu.


                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: rameniac

                                        I'm going there this weekend. Are the portions as small as Chabuya?? Me and my friend are hungry people...

                                        1. re: slacker

                                          ehh, just estimating... give you a little bit more than chabuya. or at least the bowls look slightly bigger.

                                      2. We were just there yesterday and ordered the #2 ramen, the spicy tonkotsu. The pork was good, but minimal. They also have one with extra chashu, but not spicy. This broth was just the right shade of spicyness, and utterly delicious. Funny I didn't get any choice of thick or thin noodles, next time I'll ask. This one is a keeper, and yes I think a notch better than daikokuya.

                                        1. I had the tonkotsu ramen and gyoza last night. The gyoza were falling apart before I even got them, and were pretty average tasting. I disagree with the OP about the soup, as I actually found mine a bit bland. The corn was kind of unusual, and the cabbage IN the soup was totally unnecessary. The pork, however, was plentiful, tender and tasty, the noodles were good enough, and I loved the free edamame before the meal, even though I wasn't drinking a beer.

                                          I wouldn't order the tonkotsu again, but I might try some of the other stuff there. Daikokuya is still my first choice in the area for ramen.

                                          1. I thought the signature ramen at Daikokuya was terrible! It really did taste like something instant I could make at home!! Soooooooo bland.

                                            Hopefully this San Sui Tei is out for some serious competition...

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Liquid Sky

                                              I went to Daikokuya yesterday to remind me of what it tasted like...and it was definitely worse than I remember it. It had only been about 6 months or so, but the soup tasted different, they gave me almost no bamboo or sprouts, and the egg was COLD! It was still good, but I may have to rethink my position after trying more of what San Sui Tei has to offer.

                                              I saw on rameniac's site another place in Little Tokyo called Hanaichimonme...I think that's my next stop. Very disappointed in Daikokuya...

                                            2. went to san sui tei last night and didn't care for it at all! my top two ramen is still orochon and hakata.

                                              1. I tried the pork belly ramen. The pork belly was good! nice and smokey and lots of it. The broth was a little thin to me, not very flavorful. The noodles were nice, just the right level of chew. The egg needed to spend more time in the soy sauce. I liked the cabbage in it, but there was maybe just a bit too much cabbage. Overall, it was fine, I wouldn't run back, but it's a good option to have, especially with the late hours.

                                                1. fear not ramen seekers. i have made your thoughts known to the Daikokuya management. they can either take our criticism to our bowls or to the trash. let us all pray that their ramen isn't all lost...at least their salad hasnt changed.

                                                  contact them indirectly at their homepage and tell them that the broth sucks:

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: AppleSpam

                                                    I feel the sheer popularity of Daikokuya has driven it downhill. The place is ALWAYS packed, regardless of quality, and I think it's caused them to get sloppy.

                                                    1. re: foodmonster

                                                      Was really disappointed with the ramen when I went to Daikokuya. Is OROCHON RAMEN better??

                                                      And what about a decent place for SOBA noodles?

                                                      1. re: Liquid Sky

                                                        personally i like orochan over daikokuya

                                                  2. I visited San Sui Tei last night and it was a great experience. My date and I went early (around 6:30?) and there was only one other diner there. We got excellent service (not too pushy or clingy), although the waitstaff's English was not great. They gave us edamame and fried tofu on the house, and the gyoza was excellent. I'm craving it already! (This batch didn't fall apart, as someone else said here, but it could have been just a little bit crispier on the bottom.) I had the kobe ramen. The beef was excellent, but the "flavor egg" was quite overdone and I did not want to taste it.

                                                    I also have some pictures at http://www.flickr.com/photos/megalope... if anyone is interested.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: megalope

                                                      I'm headed to J-town tomorrow - I know where I'm eating lunch... your photos are making my stomach gurgle! Thanks.