Chinmaya Tantanmen, what's the word?
- E Eto Jan 26, 2009 09:58 PM
While I was in town, I was going to make it to the recently opened Chinmaya, a Tokyo-based ramen-ya for their tantanmen. Although I had dinner in Weller Court a couple times in the last week, I never had room to sample it. How disappointing for me. The word on the Japanese blogs and newspapers seems to be good (although I'm sure a lot is driven by PR). I wonder if this could be another serious ramen player in LA. It's located one level below Orochon ramen.
Japanese blog site:
This place is downright D E L I C I O U S !!! I'm a sucker for good ramen, and this place definitely has that. Their Tan-Tan Men has a rich and spicy broth that blends well with the firm texture of the noodles. A generous portion of ground pork and beef adds just the right combination of sweetness and saltiness. And finally, the spinach and tokyo onions make it pure bliss.
They also have a delicious mabo tofu dish that is called "Chinma han" or something like that. It is also very flavorful and packs a punch if you order the original version. I have to say they have a number of winners on their menu and my only complaint is that they don't have more! I'm sure as time goes on they'll be adding to their menu, though. In the meantime, I'm just happy they decided to bring Chin-Ma-Ya to the U.S.... It's great!
We really enjoyed it.
I'm a big fan of the ramen at Daikokuya and the Bun Cari Ga at Lee Kam Kee in Alhambra, and I find this Tan Tan Men just as appealing. (Yes, yes, each of these noodle dishes is unique.)
I'm not a big fan of ground meat, so I had the Tan Tan Men topped with fried chicken, ground meat omitted. The large bowl of ramen was toothsome, the perfect base for the rich, buttery, sesame flavored, spicy, golden broth. The fried boneless Karaage chicken is fine and all, but the broth is what really captured my taste buds.
At one point, biting into a bunch of those dripping noodles, I felt as though nothing else in the world mattered. There were no worries or work deadlines, just a tangled mass of divine nourishment being forced into my face by my inept hand and a pair of sloppy chopsticks. (The 99 cent happy hour Kirin pints may have had something to do with it, too.)
The service is really friendly and attentive, so if you're tired of waiting in line at Daikokuya, pop over to Chinmaya and you should find yourself seated immediately. (At least for the time being. I guess this place will soon have as many fans as Daikokuya or Orochon.)
The decor here is more straightforward and modern, a contrast to Daikokuya's kitsch. Dinner for two cost us about $25. We'll definitely be back!
Two thumbs up.
Chinamaya replaced a soba noodle place and it retained its character. It's a clean and comfortable interior without any real extraneous noise. The ramen is pretty good IMO. While the noodles are the generic yellow stuff, it has a good bite to it, similar to what you get at Daikokuya if you order katamen. The broth is what set its apart. It's spicy and savory, with a strong sesame/peanut flavor but not overpowering. When it first opened, topping options were scarce. You could either opt for the standard ground pork and spinach or top it with karaage. Now you can get items added such as chasu, hard-boiled egg or corn and butter. They offer other soup bases such as shoyu and shio (soy sauce and salt) but I'd stick with tan tan men since I'd rather get those broth styles upstairs at Orochon. The chinmahan is a Japanese rendition of mapo tofu over white rice. It wasn't to my liking. The prices are good and the portions are fairly sizeable. They have combinations and half-portions available. Definitely a place worth checking out.