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Feb 27, 2010 08:19 PM

ramen sadness

Since i discovered about a year ago that Ramen was not always wrapped in cello with a flavor packet, i have been addicted to the good stuff.

My favorite hands down is Daikokuya, Asahi has good chicken chashu.
Made it myself with amazing results.

A month ago, i was in tiny Tokyo(Sawtelle) and on a rec from here i tried out RobataYa. Didn't know they had Ramen, Asahi was too crowded and Chabuya...i get it if im stuck out with people that want to go there.
It was delicious! Had a large bowl of Chicken Chashu.
It was exactly what i wanted and close by.

Today i was out with the family and we went back. I got the chicken again, husband got the pork broth. Kids had Bento boxes with short ribs the other grilled Unagi.

Bento boxes are awesome, delicious, filled to the brim.

Ramen comes, i dig in and taste nothing. Maybe there is something wrong with me since im doing the allergy thing this week. Husband tries his, says it taste like dishwater.
And it does.
Try to add some vinegar, some chili oil, soy... nothing.
We tell our server who proceeds to ask around out loud to everyone if they broth recipes have changed, we are met with a chorus of NO ALWAYS THE SAME!!

Well it wasn't. The chicken in mine looked like a chicken roulade one would get at a graduation buffet, the broth tasted like it should've boiled down for another 5 hours at least. Noodles tasteless, i was so let down.

I didn't eat mine, it sat there while i picked at the Bentos.

They took it off the bill but the reaction to it was just offputting.
I know it was different, watery, no depth, no saltiness, nothing.
The "shrug, it's you not us response" just made me feel like they really thought i didn't know what i was talking about. And it grated me.

May go back for the skewers if pressed but Ramen is off my radar there from now on.

Robata Ya
2004 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

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  1. It's so disappointing when restaurant staff reacts unprofessionally. Depending who I was with, I would've asked the server very quietly in a serious tone why he/she did that. Sometimes people need a reality check.

    1. I would almost expect inconsistency in ordering ramen from a place that calls themselves Robata Ya.

      2 Replies
      1. re: J.L.

        i wouldn't have tried it if it hadn't come recomended by others who i know share my tastes.
        it was so good the first time, i guess i'm still very naive and expect consistency in the places i eat at.

        1. re: GenevieveCa

          Chabuya (next door) has better consistency in their ramen...

      2. How sad. It's hard to beat Daikokuya.

        1. Santouka Ramen is by far the best Ramen in Los Angeles.

          Daikokuya has been going downhill for the last 5 years.

          You should REALLY go to Santouka if you claim to love Ramen

          16 Replies
          1. re: ronnie_gaucho

            Agree. I first tried Daikokuya when I moved to Los Angeles three years ago and was surprised by how plebeian their ramen was. I think their reputation has far outlived their food quality. Santouka and Asa (in Gardena) are leagues better; I haven't found anything else in LA close to either. (Suggestions welcome! NB: I've already tried Ramen California, Foo Foo Tei, and Shin Sen Gumi)

            The guest ramen-yas that visit from Japan during Mitsuwa's food festivals (several times a year) are often even closer to ramen nirvana.

            1. re: Peripatetic

              Daikokuya may not be as good as it was several years ago, but it's still good. It's different though, and the flavors are very rich and not very "Japanese" IMO. If you like Daikokuya, I would recommend the salt ramen with pork at Santouka. Similar in character, but I would describe it as fresher and the individual ingredients stand out unlike Daikokuya.

            2. re: ronnie_gaucho

              I agree about the statement of sticking to a restaurants specialty. That is why I stay away from Chinese restaurants that serve sushi. I love Robata and would never think of ordering ramen at a Robata restaurant. Another rule is don't order sushi at a place that has rockin' or crazy in the name. It's like my bad pun = bad pho rule.

              That said, I have traveled far and wide and Santouka really does have the best ramen in town. My wife likes Shin Sen Gumi because you can put other items in the ramen and she likes the atmosphere better. I also really liked Ramen California (but haven't been there in a bit) since it really was something different and I thought it worked.

              1. re: bsquared2

                Keep in mind some of the top, highly regarded ramen houses in Japan are owned by Chinese.

                1. re: velozo155

                  japan is a different game. with thousands of ramen shops everywhere, you can't exactly cut corners over there if you want to stay in business. here in the states, you can coast on the novelty factor of serving something "exotic" simply because the general public doesn't know much better.

                  1. re: velozo155

                    It wasn't a comment about Chinese people owning sushi restaurants. It was more of a comment about picking a place that specializes in something. I could say the same thing about a falafel joint that serves dim sum. Some places try and be too many things to too many people. When I have noodles I want a place with focus like a laser beam.

                      1. re: Tripeler

                        Can I give examples? Is this a test? I feel like I am in high school.

                        Cities that aren't known for good Chinese food (Culver City is one example because I am there a lot) have places that advertise Chinese food and sushi. Drive around other areas of the Westside and you will find them too. I see commercials on late night cable for Wokcano. Chinese food and sushi? Check! Bad Pun in the name? Bonus Round!

                        Again, it is more of a comment that if you want Ramen, you should pick a place that specializes in Ramen. At Santouka, they don't serve Sushi, Curry, Yakitori, Dim Sum or Pastrami Sandwiches. They serve noodles. They don't even offer take out because they know it will overcook the noodles. I salute their dedication to good Ramen and that is why they are one of the best places in LA. They are hardcore.

                        1. re: bsquared2

                          His query was in reply to velozo155's statement that "some of the top, highly regarded ramen houses in Japan are owned by Chinese," not to you. I'm rather curious as well, though this isn't really the right board for it.

                          1. re: bsquared2

                            This post should be archived.

                            Totally agree with what you said

                            bsquared2's post, that is

                      2. re: bsquared2

                        Which Santouka are you all talking, or does it matter? Is the Costa Mesa location equally good?

                        1. re: SteveG

                          I've only been to the CM Santouka; it's quite good and there's often a long line....

                      3. re: ronnie_gaucho

                        We haven't eaten at Daikokuya for a while, but never thought it was super. I thought it was fairly good, but Mme. Akitist was sightly disappointed. Best thing there is the artificial retro-funky decor. We were both disappointed in Shin Sen Gumi (named after a paramiltary outfit in pre-Meiji Japan, BTW). Santouka is a whole 'nother story. Transcendent may be a bit strong a description, but it isn't much of an exaggeration.

                        It's no trick to find mediocre ramen around town. Wish there was at least onereally good shop in the SFV.

                        1. re: ronnie_gaucho

                          Santouka was really a revelation to me. I haven't been back to Chabuya since.

                          1. re: ronnie_gaucho

                            i have eaten there and it was transcendingly delicious.

                          2. I used to go to Daikokuya but the lines now make it less attractive. But of all the ramen joints, they put the most ingredients in their bowls. And those are giant bowls, the biggest in the West!. The broth is good and they have the egg done properly, still runny.

                            Santouka to me is like a condensed version of Daikokuya, with far less of everything yet the same price. And their refusal to make a take out for you, yet giving you the container to do it yourself and slosh all over the tray, speaks only to a certain style of Japanese boneheaded adherence to outmoded values, the need to impose their ramen etiquette on ignorant you. This is the 21st cent; get over yourself.

                            Asa in Gardena was all the rage on the boards when it first opened, eliciting swooning praise from authentic Japanese ramen lovers. When I finally went, I was shocked I was paying restaurant prices for what tasted like Nissin Chikin - I could almost taste the cellophane.