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Feb 23, 2007 10:45 AM

Any ramen place better than Daikokuya?

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.

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  1. 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

      The best place:

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

      The best in So Cal.

      1. re: Fat Billie

        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).

        1. re: Bon Vivant

          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

            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.


      2. re: Cicely


        I love this place too.

      3. 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

          I'm sure it was a typo, but it's Orochon, not Orochan. And their assari-kei ramen is pretty good.

          1. re: E Eto

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

          2. re: MeAndroo

            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

              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. 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:

            3 Replies
            1. re: 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.


              1. re: SecretAsianMan


                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

                  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. 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. 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.