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Any ramen place better than Daikokuya?

zzztimbo Feb 23, 2007 10:45 AM

I'd like to know if there is a place BETTER than Daikokuya?
Please give me ideas in both OC and LA. I'm looking anywhere in Southern California.

Last Sunday, I ate at Ebisu in Fountain Valley. Their tonkotsu ramen tasted watered down and flavorless compared to Daikokuya. The only upside was that they gave a little bit more pork.

  1. h
    hhh168 Mar 15, 2007 05:03 PM

    asahi ramen on sawtelle in los angeles is good.

    1. d
      Dave and Stuff Mar 15, 2007 04:29 PM

      Rameya on Olympic is kind of dumpy, but has AWESOME (and cheap) ramen.

      1. modernist Mar 14, 2007 11:22 PM

        santouka is absolutely the way to go but they close early
        i tried san sui tei and i was not into it all. the takoyaki was fine but not great. they were really nice and they were giving 20 percent discount on some items but i dont like to mess around so it will be weekends at santouka.

        1. onigiriyumyum Mar 14, 2007 11:07 PM

          first post! woohoo! I gotta say I like to go to Ramenya when I don't feel like making the drive to Shinsengumi in Torrance...but sometimes I just gotta have a taste of that soup base! yumyum!

          1. w
            witerice Mar 14, 2007 07:44 PM

            Hey how about the old perennials like Ramenya in WLA and Kouraku downtown (The Torrance one is truly terrible in comparison). Classics that should not be forgotten! I would add another vote for Hakata ramen as well, and also throw Torrance's Shisen Ramen into the mix. Finally I have to say that the last time I visited "the New" Mama Ramen in Torrance it honestly wasn't that bad... I know there might be skeptics out there, and it is possible that I just caught them on a good day! By the way, for my money Chabuya was a big disappointment.
            Ramen will never really taste the same here as it does in Japan until they start exporting the water...

            1 Reply
            1. re: witerice
              r
              rameniac Mar 15, 2007 04:16 PM

              shin mama ramen flies a bit under the radar these days but they actually have some pretty good, distinctive stuff there. i just went there last night and took pictures so i'll try to post something soon.

            2. ronnie_gaucho Feb 26, 2007 01:01 AM

              Santouka Ramen is the best ramen in Los Angeles by a mile. Nothing even comes close.Which is pretty pathetic...

              1 Reply
              1. re: ronnie_gaucho
                m
                MeowMixx Mar 15, 2007 09:41 AM

                Had Santouka last night for dinner. It's only my second time there but gawd I love this stuff!

              2. e
                eiji Feb 25, 2007 05:57 PM

                I go through phases on which ones I like best.

                For better than the regular Daikoku ramen, in my opinion if you do not get it either kotteri or add the garlic paste, it lacks flavor. When you do add garlic or make it kotter, it's much better. Their pork is wonderful. The kurobuta is the start. Only Santouka can compare. I'm a broth, noodles, and toppings person:

                Santouka Ramen Shio-Tonkotsu ramen (Costa Mesa)

                Hanaichimonme Champon or Spicy Champon Ramen (Little Tokyo Shopping Center above Mitsuwa)

                Shinsengumi Hakata Ramen (Rosemead and various locations), get the kaedama (95 cents) for second helpings of noodles and choose the firmness of the noodles to your liking and oilyness of the broth. The noodles are thin.

                Although not tonkotsu, I used to love the mabo ramen at Umemura where Orochon is right now.

                3 Replies
                1. re: eiji
                  r
                  rameniac Feb 26, 2007 12:15 AM

                  umemura really was a pretty good place, although back in the day there were few other options to choose from. i'd like to think that it was "ahead of its time" lol

                  1. re: rameniac
                    Skunk2Racer Mar 14, 2007 10:41 PM

                    How Is Umemura In Gardena on Redondo Beach BLVD?

                    1. re: Skunk2Racer
                      f
                      Fat Billie Mar 15, 2007 02:10 AM

                      IT IS AWESOME!!!

                2. eezerik Feb 24, 2007 09:48 PM

                  ShinSenGumi is good but expensive for what you get. Pleasant staff at the Fountain Valley one. If you eat 7 bowls, it's free...

                  But at 8-9 bucks a pop for barely any noodles and meat...I would rather go eat pho..

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: eezerik
                    Bon Vivant Feb 25, 2007 07:01 AM

                    I would try the branch in Rosemead because the bowls are huge and I never feel the need to order extra noodles like I do at some places. I usually go at lunch so I think that it's cheaper but I think that it's a pretty substantial amount (the Rosemead store is the only one that I've gone to so I don't know about the others.)

                    http://myculinaryadventures.blogspot.com

                    1. re: Bon Vivant
                      eezerik Feb 27, 2007 12:04 AM

                      Bon Vivant, much appreciated. Thanks I will go try this weekend!

                      EEZ

                  2. mpken Feb 24, 2007 08:05 AM

                    There's a new Shin Sen Gumi location inside the Marukai Pacific Square food court in Gardena. Not too many patrons there the last time I went. They are occupying the old "Back Home in Lahaina" spot.

                    I still like Santouka better.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: mpken
                      r
                      rameniac Feb 24, 2007 09:51 AM

                      the SSG in marukai pacific square is a yakitori stand. not that it isn't excellent. because it is quite excellent indeed!

                      1. re: rameniac
                        mpken Feb 24, 2007 11:39 PM

                        There is now a SSG ramen counter in addition to the yakitori stand. The SSG yakitori stand is also in a new space across from the pickle counter. The new SSG ramen counter is in the old hawaiian food space, between the pickle counter and the chinese counter. I only saw a few people eating ramen, but the people working the ramen counter were definitely some of the crew from SSG Ramen down the street.

                        1. re: mpken
                          r
                          rameniac Feb 24, 2007 11:49 PM

                          oh really? guess i'm going to have to hit it up. althought the lure of yakitori is strong down there - i usually make off with a big box of 10 skewers and bring my own chili powder and yuzu kosho and eat 'em right there. it's not as good as actually dining at SSG yakitori, but i swear, for the price, it can't be beat (10 sticks for $12 or something like that!!)

                    2. Bon Vivant Feb 24, 2007 06:44 AM

                      Another vote for Hakata Ramen; I like everything about it and the add ins (wontons, pickled mustard greens, etc) are fun too.

                      I don't know how chowhounders feel about Chabuya on Sawtelle but each time that I've gone I've had a great bowl of soup. I always get the pork special with miso and I always enjoy it.

                      http://myculinaryadventures.blogspot.com

                      1. b
                        BabyDaddy Feb 23, 2007 08:28 PM

                        There is a Shin Sen Gumi on Brookhurst in Fountain Valley that a coworker took me to. I had my first ramen experience there just a few weeks ago. I have nothing to compare it to, but I enjoyed it thoroughly.

                        1. r
                          rameniac Feb 23, 2007 04:28 PM

                          Gardena ramen in Torrance (Western & 182nd). Santouka in the West L.A, Torrance, and Costa Mesa Mitsuwa food courts. Hakata Shin-Sen-Gumi on Redondo Beach Blvd. & Gramercy. Orochon in Little Tokyo. Daikokuya has fallen off quite a bit. Will be posting a review on the new San Sui Tei soon; it's... ok, but not great.

                          Have a few pics and writeups here: http://www.rameniac.com

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: rameniac
                            SecretAsianMan Feb 24, 2007 09:45 PM

                            Rameniac,

                            Lovely Companion and I ventured down to Gardena tonight on the basis of your writeup. I'm afraid that we were a bit dumbfounded about what the fuss is over this place. We weren't impressed at all. The broth was extraordinarily unremarkable, though the gyoza was passable.

                            SAM

                            1. re: SecretAsianMan
                              r
                              rameniac Feb 24, 2007 11:23 PM

                              asianman,

                              if you've ever had shoyu ramen at the vast majority of places in southern california, you may find that soups tend to be overwhelmingly generic - slightly thin and leaning on the bland side (ramen-ya on olympic being a notable exception, but only in that it's more salty).

                              a lot of people who've been to japan will swear that there is no "real" ramen to be had outside of that country. i tend to agree. it all comes down to something that poster yokozuna once described on these boards as "depth of flavor." of course people will invariably have differing opinions on what tastes good, and which ramen shops they like, but "depth of flavor" is something that i think is rarely taken into active consideration.

                              in essence, a well-developed ramen soup should be multi-dimensional, with a lot of different tastes and sensations going on, savory flavor from the shoyu base, musky hints of pork or chicken from specific bones used in the broth, the sweetness of seafood if present (in asahikawa-style santouka ramen, for instance) and just all sorts of other subtleties.

                              not every good ramen shop will appeal to every customer, and as such, you probably weren't feeling gardena ramen, but the key factor is that there should exist that level of complexity in the soup if it's to be considered a "real" ramen place in the way certain posters sometimes long for on these boards.

                              sadly, i feel pretty confident in saying that most of the assari-kei ramen shops around town really don't have that kind of a complexity, good OR bad, but instead settle for a bland shoyu broth that more or less tastes the same wherever you go. koraku ramen in little tokyo, ramen nippon in the valley - the taste really doesn't vary much from shop to shop - basically, it's soy sauce and water and little else to appease the palate.

                              gardena ramen, even if you don't really like it, captures the "spirit" of what a ramen shop is to me - a neighborhood kind of place with only one old guy tending the soup, throwing all sorts of different things in it to create a delicate and complex balance of flavors. sometimes, he may strike out, especially if he's inexperienced (even gardena has only been open about a year), but the key is that he's individualizing his ramen and perfecting it over time with a myriad blend of ingredients and processes (such as boiling the soup for several days) in order to create a soup that can't be found anywhere else. that's what i can really appreciate, and i could tell from the moment i tasted it.

                              besides gardena ramen, eboshi ramen (in lomita) is worth a mention - the broth is distinctly "wafu" in style and you can fairly taste undercurrents of sardines and/or bonito, much like in hot udon or soba. as such, a lot of Japanese ex-pats really love the place. but the problem is the soup is still too bland to rise above the run-of-the-mill.

                              like i'm pretty sure i've mentioned elswhere (either in the review or on my posts), gardena ramen isn't for everybody. of course that's fine. and i definitely appreciate that you gave your opinion of the place and even called me out on it. but i'll stand by my assertion that it's a rare example of so-called "real" ramen in southern california.

                              1. re: rameniac
                                m
                                mattmh Mar 14, 2007 11:07 PM

                                I also ventured down to Gardena Ramen on rameniac's review. I thought it was great - the soup broth was different, more clear (similar to a chicken stock), the noodles were on the al dente side and the bamboo shoots were crunchier than Daikokuya. It wasn't super different but very enjoyable and a nice contrast...and the free gyoza were excellent as well. Like rameniac, I respect the guy for doing his thing, in a downtrodden strip mall no less.

                                By the way, does anyone know if Chowhounds in Japan debate various burger joints?

                          2. MeAndroo Feb 23, 2007 11:36 AM

                            I'm sure it was a typo, but it's actually tonkotsu ramen. Tonkatsu is fried pork cutlet.

                            Shinsengumi seems to be the top chain ramen spot across LA and OC. There's a number of places on Sawtelle in West LA, but like the previous poster, I'm wondering where exactly you're looking.

                            If you like gimmicks, try Orochan in Little Tokyo. They've got customizeable ramen, from ingredients to spiciness. I've heard mixed reviews, but have a friend who swears it's better than Daikokuya.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: MeAndroo
                              E Eto Feb 23, 2007 12:28 PM

                              I'm sure it was a typo, but it's Orochon, not Orochan. And their assari-kei ramen is pretty good.
                              http://www.orochonramen.com/index.html

                              1. re: E Eto
                                MeAndroo Feb 23, 2007 12:45 PM

                                Ah, sorry. It wasn't a typo, I actually thought it was Orochan...thanks!

                              2. re: MeAndroo
                                z
                                zack Feb 24, 2007 02:09 PM

                                orochon is good, but is very different from daikokuya. i love the shio ramen with extra chasu, but the soup base is totally diferent from tonkotsu.

                                shinsengumi gets my vote for consistency. daikokuya can be great but quality varies. last few meals there were only average.

                                1. re: zack
                                  Dommy Feb 25, 2007 10:47 PM

                                  We went for the time today (Mass in the Cathedral means Little Tokyo for brunch! :)) and were rather impressed. The noodles had some real TOOTH. The broth had nice flavor and asian 'funkiness' in the broth aside from the spiciness (I perferred the Miso to the Shio).

                                  But I found Daikokuya more balanced, and Santoka more refinded. Another thing I didn't like was the 'per charge' for the 'extras'. A simple bowl of Ramen can get REALLY pricy by the time you get the basics (Pork, bamboo, EGG!! :P). I also was really dispointed by the greasy gyoza. It looked so good... :P I did like the extra noodles option tho'! :)

                                  Can't wait to try the new place down from Daikokuya, mostly because they also have Takoyaki!!! :)

                              3. Cicely Feb 23, 2007 11:23 AM

                                You first asked for Little Tokyo, then all of OC and LA. If your search is broader than downtown, try Shinsengumi and Santouka.

                                In LT, someone just posted that the new San Sui Tei, just down the street from Daikokuya, is good.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: Cicely
                                  f
                                  Fat Billie Feb 24, 2007 02:07 AM

                                  The best place:

                                  Umemura
                                  Redondo Beach Blvd. (@ Western Blvd.)
                                  Gardena, Ca. 90028

                                  The best in So Cal.

                                  1. re: Fat Billie
                                    Bon Vivant Feb 24, 2007 06:40 AM

                                    I remember there used to be a Umemura in Weller Court many years ago. I always liked this place for their variety and good noodles. I wish it were still there instead of Orochon (which I do not like).

                                    http://myculinaryadventures.blogspot.com

                                    1. re: Bon Vivant
                                      r
                                      rameniac Feb 24, 2007 11:35 PM

                                      there also used to be an umemura on sawtelle, in the space occupied by present-day kiriko or yakitori-ya (one of those). i think the one in redondo beach is is a little less magnificent than the now defunct sawtelle branch (it doesn't help that it's in a converted taco bell lol), but at least it's a relic that's still around. the only place to get yakiniku ramen that i can think of!

                                      1. re: rameniac
                                        Bon Vivant Feb 25, 2007 07:04 AM

                                        I remember that branch! I never went there since I lived closer to downtown and if I ate around there it was usually at Ramen-ya. I really miss Umemura. Gardena is such a schlepp for me but it might be worth it to go down there early one Sat morn.

                                        http://myculinaryadventures.blogspot.com

                                  2. re: Cicely
                                    f
                                    Fat Billie Feb 24, 2007 02:08 AM

                                    Shinsengumi

                                    I love this place too.

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