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Our very own Rameniac in the LA Times

SauceSupreme Jan 2, 2008 10:24 AM


As the tagline suggests, he's the rock star of ramen.

Just to keep things on topic, here's a list of his 5 favorites:

Santouka: Despite their pedestrian locations in Mitsuwa Marketplace food courts, these restaurants are hands-down the best in Southern California, Wong says. "That's right. The best noodler in town is roughly the Japanese equivalent of a Panda Express or an Orange Julius," he writes on his website. "Rich and luscious, Santouka's Asahikawa-style tonkotsu shio broth is the reigning champion of world-class ramen in Los Angeles." 3760 S. Centinela Ave., Los Angeles, (310) 398-2113; 665 Paularino Ave., Costa Mesa, (714) 434-1101; 21515 S. Western Ave., Torrance, (310) 212-1101.

Asa Ramen: Wong raves about this new place, open only since early fall. "Already, a bowl of Asa's kotteri shoyu ramen rates among the best in town," he writes on the website. "Though it lacks the institutionalized perfection of a Santouka shio ramen, Chef Kubo's shoyu-tonkotsu creation already stands head and shoulders above nearly everything else in the local game." Furthermore, he says, Asa is one of the few ramen shops in town to source its noodles domestically, from an artisanal maker in the Bay Area. 18202 S. Western Ave., Gardena, (310) 769-1010.

Gardena Ramen: Wong loves the spirit of this place so much that after first eating here he ranked it second, behind only Santouka. But, he now says, the quality may be slipping a little -- or maybe it's just that Asa has come on so strong. Gardena Ramen is a one-man operation run by Isao Nakamura. On his website, Wong describes the soup as a "complex (the key word here) concoction derived from torigara (chicken bones), genkotsu (pork knuckle), and niboshi (dried sardines). It is slightly opaque and just a tad too salty, but flavorful in impossibly distinctive ways. It is sweet yet savory. Rich yet light."1840 W. 182nd St., Torrance, (310) 324-6993.

Shin-Sen-Gumi Hakata Ramen: In Japan, Wong says, Hakata ramen is "super popular, and is actually my favorite style of ramen overall; Shin-Sen-Gumi's version of it comes close to what I miss most about living in Kyushu." Hakata ramen is made with ultra-thin, firm noodles; is a purely pork bone soup with no shio, shoyu or miso; and has a wide range of toppings. 8450 E. Valley Blvd., No. 103, Rosemead, (626) 572-8646; 18315 Brookhurst St., No. 1, Fountain Valley, (714) 962-8971; 2051 W. Redondo Beach Blvd., No. C, Gardena, (310) 329-1335.

Daikokuya: Though this Little Tokyo standard is a favorite among Internet foodies, Wong demurs. "It is a decent place," he says, "but I have to say it's also the most over-hyped place in L.A. You have to wait for hours to get in, and it's just not that great." 327 E. 1st St., Los Angeles, (213) 626-1680.

  1. f
    fdb Jan 10, 2008 11:29 PM

    And on the Chinese newspaper:


    1. nakni Jan 7, 2008 04:08 PM

      Tried to go to West L.A. Santouka today (Mon. 1/7) to get the special pork ramen around 3:15 and they had already run out of shio broth at 1:30! Granted I've usually never gone there right by closing time, but that was a first for me. They know about the article by the way. I don't know if the broth ever ran out so early when Jonathan Gold's review in the Weekly came out, but foot traffic never seemed more excessive than usual when I visited.

      <shakes fist> DAMN YOUUUUU, Rameniac!

      3 Replies
      1. re: nakni
        SauceSupreme Jan 7, 2008 04:18 PM

        It was easy to get a table at Asa last night, during the torrential downpour. Until the hubbub dies down, save your noodling for when the weather turns.

        Did you have the shoyu broth instead? Honestly, both are very good.

        1. re: SauceSupreme
          CulverJack Jan 7, 2008 09:49 PM

          Here, here. We also were stuck by a shio outage last week, went with the Shoyu and it was great. Still very porky and nice. I was pleased.

          1. re: SauceSupreme
            nakni Jan 8, 2008 10:52 AM

            I'm only in town until Sunday, so I'm gonna have to deal with the hubbub at Asa. Will try going early evening Wednesday or Thursday. I want to go early enough to get the kotteri shoyu ramen and not be denied.

            I had the shoyu at Santouka twice I think, and it was never more than serviceable to me. I left and decided to hit up Ramenya and get some garlic-y goodness, which also enabled me to walk a little ways and get my Beard Papa fix.

        2. nakni Jan 3, 2008 05:36 PM

          What a treat to fly back into town and see this when I rip open Wednesday's paper. And the photo is much better than the KCRW one. Great article next to it regarding Hitachino Nest and Echigo beer. A couple I know living in Japan has flown into town as well. I gave them a bottle of Hitachino Nest White Ale, and neither had ever seen it over there before. But I took them to Santouka (West L.A.) on Wednesday, and they were very satisfied with the special pork ramen.

          Gotta hit up Asa Ramen at some point to check it out, but now I'm a little worried about crowds. What's a good time to go to sit solo at the bar?

          1. s
            slacker Jan 3, 2008 12:45 PM

            Wow, nice! Much more than 15 min. of fame. Now I want to check out your store too. :)

            1. SauceSupreme Jan 3, 2008 12:11 PM

              By the way, TonyC tells me that his Japanese coworker went for dinner and it was packed, all with non-Japanese. A 2 hour wait! Fortunately it's open until 2am, so if there are any late night Chowhounds who still want to try Asa out, GO LATE.

              1. Akitist Jan 3, 2008 10:30 AM

                I saw the article. Pretty cool. Too bad the only Top 5 place in the central part of town is listed as "slipping".

                1. OCAnn Jan 3, 2008 07:45 AM

                  Nice article...now I can also put a face to a name!

                  1. e
                    Erik M Jan 3, 2008 07:29 AM

                    I said it in private, and now I'll say it in public: you done your parents proud!! <smile>

                    But, seriously, Rickmond, the chow community has benefited tremendously from all of your hard work.


                    P.S. Tell Russ that it's Erik-with-a-K. <smile>

                    1. c
                      CulverJack Jan 2, 2008 09:23 PM

                      Sweet! Great profile. Rameniac, I appreciate your writing (Santouka is a frequent stop for us) and you should know your recs go far - my son just turned 3 and when I told him I'd take him anywhere he wanted to eat, he said after a short think - "the Japanese market", which for us, means ramen. He's hooked! LOL!

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: CulverJack
                        fdb Jan 2, 2008 09:27 PM

                        My 10-year-old held his birthday dinner at Santouka to introduce his favorite ramen to his friends. :)

                        1. re: fdb
                          CulverJack Jan 3, 2008 01:08 PM

                          Ha! LOL. You must be as proud as I am... F.I.Ts (Foodies In Training) are the best.

                        2. re: CulverJack
                          rameniac Jan 2, 2008 11:59 PM

                          LOLOL... younglings need their carbs! XD

                        3. Sarah Jan 2, 2008 03:26 PM

                          Link has been showing "server error" all day ... ! Frustrating.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Sarah
                            bassbiz Jan 2, 2008 03:52 PM

                            Rameniac you crack me up "For an Asian American, being a foodie on the Internet is kind of like being a rock star without having to be unemployed or doing a lot of drugs or disappointing your parents."

                            I think my asian parents would agree with that if I weren't too lazy to do a food blog, LOL.

                            I've tried 3 out of the 5 on your list, I'll have to try out Asa and Gardena still for now Santouka will rank as my favorite.

                            Great article.

                            1. re: Sarah
                              rameniac Jan 2, 2008 04:52 PM

                              hehe sorry ! the sudden spikecrashed my server... been dealing with tech support all day XD...

                              1. re: rameniac
                                Sarah Jan 2, 2008 05:09 PM

                                LA Times' site is having probs as well -- food and dining.

                                1. re: rameniac
                                  b0ardkn0t Jan 2, 2008 08:35 PM

                                  Read the article. What city in the SGV are you from?
                                  Ditto to fellow bloggers I will have to try Asa.

                                  1. re: b0ardkn0t
                                    rameniac Jan 3, 2008 12:00 AM

                                    thanks =). i'm from alhambra, pretty much grew up in all the restaurants in the alh/monterey park/san gabriel area. every now and then i still crave a bowl of roast duck won ton at sam woo on valley!

                              2. e
                                exilekiss Jan 2, 2008 03:26 PM

                                That's awesome! :)

                                Congrats Rameniac.

                                1. r
                                  rameniac Jan 2, 2008 11:59 AM

                                  lol thanks you guys! ticking down on my 15 minutes of fame... i'll put them to good use by loading up on as much arterial-clogging tonkotsu ramen as i can find. still recovering from shin sen gumi's late night new year's eve noodling =)

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: rameniac
                                    Melanie Wong Jan 7, 2008 10:40 AM

                                    Super! And here's another 15 minutes,

                                  2. g
                                    greengelato Jan 2, 2008 11:23 AM

                                    yeah- i read it in the times this morning! congrats!

                                    mm...i've frequented your ramen site (and even made the trek out to gardena) but i don't think i ever made the connection that i've met you until i saw your pic in the article. we met at a 4th of july party and witnessed the most spectacular fireworks perched on that downtown roof. this year's fireworks sucked, btw.

                                    my ratings:
                                    1) santouka
                                    2) chabuya
                                    3) daikokuya
                                    4) gardena
                                    5) shin-sen-gumi

                                    i recently had asahi, just for college nostalgia's sake, and it friggin SUCKED. can't believe i ate that crap for 4 years.

                                    1. n
                                      Nicole Jan 2, 2008 10:58 AM

                                      Are there any ramen places in L.A. that do NOT use MSG (or at least not much)? Or is MSG a necessary ingredient? I can tolerate small amounts of MSG, but in large doses it gives me an excruciating headache.

                                      1. raytamsgv Jan 2, 2008 10:46 AM

                                        Very cool!

                                        1. Dommy Jan 2, 2008 10:28 AM

                                          Whoo hoo! On the front page too! :) Great profile dude!! And I totally want to check out your store now...


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