I used to live in L.A. and will be visiting in June; can't get great ramen in Minneapolis, and I used to frequent, and loved, Yokohama Ramen.
Any other favorite places I should try?
I great starting point is at Rameniac's blog:
I'm not sure how long you've been away, but probably one of the more accessible and worthy ramen joints Santouka which are found at the Mitsuwa food courts in Mar Vista, Torrance and Costa Mesa. These have been around for about a few years now. They're cash-only and no take out.
21515 Western Av, Torrance, CA 90501
3760 S Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90066
665 Paularino Ave, Costa Mesa, CA
3760 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA
Here are a couple other threads to help your decision:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/583088 | Is there better Ramen than Daikokuya?
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/683006 | Need help with Ramen Marathon - State of Ramen in Gardena/Torrance currently?
327 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
ASA and Shisen Ramen in Torrance are my faves.
also, out of the Santoukas, Costa Mesa is definitely the best.
Kohryu in Costa Mesa has perfect eggs, and is best when you're drunk.
1730 W Sepulveda Blvd, Torrance, CA
3760 S Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90066
891 Baker St, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
I'd go with Santouka, hands-down. Daikokuya's Chashu is wonderful, and you can get gyoza and beer there, which you can't get at the Santouka locations, due to being in foodcourts. There have been comments regarding Daikokuya going "downhill" quality-wise, but it's still a benchmark joint for ramen in LA. I think it's still great, and in a great location. Even so, Santouka is the vastly superior bowl on all accounts.
As for Shin Sen Gumi, I know they seem to be a board/locals favorite, but I think they might be the worst ramen I've ever had. I don't even really know where to start....I can honestly say that there isn't a single part of the bowl that I liked. And this has little to do with the Hakata style not being my thing. The broth is thin and underdeveloped (especially in comparison to the broth at Santouka), the egg isn't done in the wonderful soft-cooked style, instead, it's hard-boiled, and the result is a dry overcooked yolk with gray around the rim and nothing of a marinade on the white of the egg whatsoever, the noodles are surprisingly plain, the garnishes don't compare in quality to other bowls in town (the menma/bamboo shoot in particular is awful, and the beni shoga/pickled ginger is so overdone with coloring that it immediately stains the broth and the noodles)....But the chashu is probably the biggest offender. Miniature, paper-thin little rounds of pork. As if someone had taken a little frozen log of cooked pork loin, and then put it through a meat slicer on the thinnest possible setting. The little discs have no texture or real meat to them at all. They fold like little bits of paper in the soup. In comparison to the chashu at Daikokuya and especially Santouka, it's like comparing a slice of week-old coldcuts vs. Filet Mignon. I can't believe that I haven't read any comments about this anywhere, so maybe I'm the only one who isn't a fan of that part.
On the flipside of all this, the fried rice and the gyoza at Shin Sen Gumi are both outstanding. And, again, you can get beer there. As for the service, it's fine, although the waits are ridiculous for what you get. Also, I tend to get turned off by any place that lets me customize my bowl beyond adding/removing certain garnishes or toppings. At SSG, they make you fill out a form to select the doneness of your noodles, the strength/oil of your broth, and select every single topping that comes with it. People may like that about Shin Sen Gumi, but I find it tedious and unnecessary. If anything, that should be the waitresses job to ask me how I want it, not for me to fill out some form. They take it to such a level of customization that if you get the wrong combination of broth strength/oil, and you don't like what you receive on top of it, it ends up being your fault for having ordered it that way. I prefer the bowl to come out as the cook intended it to be eaten. If I want to tweak it myself I can by asking.
Anyway, there are a lot of ramen options in town. Just thought I'd give my $.02 about "the big three". Obviously, there is the location factor depending on what you have available in your part of the counties, but Shin Sen Gumi would be a last option for me. I don't mean to rag on it so much, but it's like one of those hip/cheap neighborhood sushi joints where everyone wants to do a sake bomb and get all these fun rolls at rock bottom prices. Shin Sen Gumi is like that to ramen for me.