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Best Ramen?

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?

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  1. I great starting point is at Rameniac's blog:

    http://www.rameniac.com/reviews/archi...

    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.

    -----
    Mitsuwa Marketplace
    21515 Western Av, Torrance, CA 90501

    Santouka
    3760 S Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90066

    Mitsuwa Marketplace
    665 Paularino Ave, Costa Mesa, CA

    Mitsuwa Marketplace
    3760 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA

    4 Replies
    1. re: bulavinaka

      2nd, 3rd, and 4th Santouka! I've been to Shin Sen Gumi and Daikokuya and like Santouka's shio ramen the best. It's salty, warm, and fatty goodness!

      -----
      Daikokuya
      327 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

      Santouka
      3760 S Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90066

      1. re: bulavinaka

        actually, they let U do take-out.. only they give u the styrofoam bowl to pack urself. of course u should always try to avoid doing take-out on ramen, however, since the noodles soak up all the soup and get swollen and mushy.

        1. re: namstermonster

          Thanks namstermonster, I didn't know this. This will come in handy for those situations where I've nixed Santouka because of this reason. I'm not far from Santouka, so I can make use this option on occasion without too much compromise.

      2. 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?

        -----
        Daikokuya
        327 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

          1. 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.

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            Shisen Ramen
            1730 W Sepulveda Blvd, Torrance, CA

            Santouka
            3760 S Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90066

            Kohryu
            891 Baker St, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

            1 Reply
            1. re: nomnomnoms

              Kohryu ....yum, I had their garlic ramen last week... yum yum

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              Kohryu
              891 Baker St, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

            2. 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.

              1 Reply
              1. re: cookieshoes

                Agreed re: SSG. Don't hate it, but much prefer Daiko/Santouka vs SSG ramen. Not a fan of their noodles.

              2. Check this link out for the new Ramen Mottainai, really great ramen in the South Bay:
                1630 W. Redondo Beach Blvd., Suite 9
                Gardena, CA 90247
                Tel: (310) 538-3233
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7211...:

                10 Replies
                1. re: wienermobile

                  Did anyone mention Ajisen Ramen? I don't know about the best but it's the best I have had so far. They are in San Gabriel but I think they are a chain that is in Japan and other countries as well as other places in the US. So in LA there might be more than one otherwise come out to San Gabriel.

                  Oh wait I edited my post because I found their website and posting it here -

                  http://www.ajisen-la.com/welcome.html

                  1. re: HoundDogz

                    Ajisen Ramen is also now in the Century City mall food court.

                    1. re: wienermobile

                      Also in Irvine at the Diamond Jamboree shopping center. They make a pretty good tonkotsu soup for a chain. Their prices are higher than the other stand bys, but they serve bigger bowls with more toppings. I guess if you're looking for volume and don't mind paying a little more, Ajisen is good

                    2. re: HoundDogz

                      Had it once, terrible, will never go back.

                      Not even playing the same game as Daiko/Santouka/SSG

                      1. re: ns1

                        Ajisen isn't playing the same game, that's sort of the point of the place. Where SSG / Daikokuya / Santouka specialize in the one, uber-porky tonkotsu broth and have very limited, focused menus, Ajisen offers more variety in the kinds of ramen you'll find across different parts of Japan.

                        I'm not arguing matters of taste, because I'm with you on the preference for SSG / Daikoku / Santouka 's soups (is that what you mean, their soups?). I think that we get spoiled here in LA with the quality and variety within that one style of soup. It's nice to have other styles of ramen (meaning the whole package - broth, the soup from which it's made, noodles, and topping) represented, even if those styles aren't my first choice.

                        Also - the gyoza at Ajisen Irvine was pretty goddamn good, and any worthy ramen joint better put out a good plate of gyoza. Lately, the cooks are Daikokuya Costa Mesa are putting out some sloppy, gummy-yet-al-dente gyoza and someone at the Little Tokyo honten ought to go down to Costa Mesa to set things straight in the kitchen

                        -----
                        Daikokuya
                        327 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                        Santouka
                        3760 S Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                        1. re: Professor Salt

                          fair enough :)

                          Never been to Daiko CM, too afraid of being disappointed. Hell I rarely ever go to Daiko LT anymore cuz I hate waiting + finding parking

                          1. re: ns1

                            With good reason. The last few trips to Daikokuya CM have been very disappointing. Lukewarm soup, crappily cooked gyoza. Really fundamental QC problems.

                          2. re: Professor Salt

                            I haven't yet been to Daikokuya in CM; I've only been to the Hacienda Heights location which I found to be very good. They had this fried octopus dish that was very, very good and I prefered their gyoza to Foo Foo Tei's. Two apps, two ramen, tax & tip = $44.

                            -----
                            Daikokuya
                            327 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                      2. re: wienermobile

                        @ Mottainai I didn't like the Freaker (pork shoyu). it had a weird consistency and sort of tasted like ketchup. But the miso was interesting and didn't taste like other miso broths. they run out of gyozas way too quickly. get there early.

                        1. re: awwwyeah206

                          Also try Naga Naga, it's in Alhambra and Pasadena. I like Ajisen a little better but Naga Naga is very good too.

                      3. Santouka at the Mitsuwa marketplace. No question for me. That's always my stop when I get the craving.

                        The ramen is delicious and the atmosphere is just so... Ramen-y! I can't describe it. Just awesome.

                        -----
                        Santouka
                        3760 S Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                        1. Santouka at the Mar Vista location, tried the Torrance location Santouka and it was definitely a couple steps below in quality.

                          For a better dining experience than Santouka, and ramen nearly as good, Ramen Jinya in Studio City is pretty marvelous.

                          the other westside ramen places are all pretty blah, but Ramen YaYa on Olympic was a smidge better than the rest of the Sawtelle crowd.

                          -----
                          Santouka
                          3760 S Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                          Ramen Jinya
                          11239 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: jadekarrde

                            To be honest, I was disappointed at Jinya. The chashu was so so, the noodles were on the overcooked side. The worst thing was the egg. . . it was the chalky HARD hard boiled egg rather than the nice hanjyuku egg I was expecting. The tonkotsu broth was ok. Their gyoza was a chicken filling but tasted decent. The karaage was nice and crunchy and served hot but the cut of meat was fatty which was disappointing.

                          2. So what is the best ramen that is the least salty and greasy and doesn't use much or any MSG? We're visiting later this year and may do a ramen stop if there are good contenders. Close to the I5 on the way up (or down) to/from Anaheim would be ideal. No Daikokuya though.

                            17 Replies
                            1. re: K K

                              Wherever you go you can always request less oil. Saltiness and MSG go together and I don't think you can avoid, unfortunately.

                              Take any of the recs here except Ajisen and Naga Naga. Both would get massacred in Tokyo. Aren't they both Chinese owned?

                              1. re: K K

                                A quick re-route should get you to the Torrence Santouka. Do a ramen tasting, the miso vs shoyu vs shio/tonkotsu. All very good actually. I used to always prefer shio/tonkotsu but recently have really liked the shoyu.

                                -----
                                Santouka
                                3760 S Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                                1. re: Porthos

                                  Quick re-route? Disneyland to Torrance is 30 to 70 mins :-o. I'd do that without family, but it's going to be a tough sell just going there to eat.

                                  1. re: K K

                                    Go to the Santouka at Mitsuwa in Costa Mesa. From Disneyland, just head down the 5, onto the 55, and exit on Baker to Paularino. 15 minute drive.

                                    1. re: K K

                                      I assumed you were driving down from the bay area. I was thinking 5 to the 110 then you can just take the 91 over to Anaheim when you're done.

                                      Don't forget to payoff the in-laws to babysit and go to Mori...

                                      1. re: Porthos

                                        Yes, driving down from up north, but the meal(s) are either going to be on the way down (I forsee one, maybe a Korean meal) or on the way back up (likely one lunch, if dinner that may require an overnight stay but I doubt it).

                                        I assume the Southern California Santouka's are better than the NorCal/San Jose one?

                                        Mori is not going to happen at all, unfortunately. I will have to keep drooling over reports, photos, and blogs.....Sorry to go off topic, but is there any good solid Taiwanese or non Cantonese non spicy, non greasy, low to zero MSG Chinese, that won't require more than a 20 to 25 min detour along the I5 - Anaheim/NorCal route? Not sure if the units will be willing to sit in bumper to bumper from Anaheim to MP/SGV if it is during rush hour (will there be on a Saturday or Sunday?). Anything closer that's good? Rowland Heights?
                                        I wouldn't mind going back to Dai Ho, but I'm sure there are better and closer options.

                                        1. re: K K

                                          if you're going to Rowland Heights, what about Foo Foo Tei?

                                          http://exilekiss.blogspot.com/2008/11...

                                          1. re: ns1

                                            In that neighborhood, Yukino Ya's Tonkotsu Ramen is better than FooFooTei.

                                            1. re: J.L.

                                              Do they have other types of ramen (shio/shoyu)?

                                              1. re: OCAnn

                                                Yes! They're in City of Industry, in the Smart & Final shopping center.

                                                -----
                                                Smart & Final
                                                10113 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034

                                  2. re: K K

                                    It's an odd duck because most ramen is made with pork stock, but for your request, I'd recommend the ramen at Oki Doki. It comes with chashu (pork) slices, but "soup" is a clear, awesome chicken broth. Very little grease, and pure, clean chickeny flavor. The Tustin location is a 1/2 mile off the 5 fwy.

                                    Also - AFAIK, most ramen shops aren't adding synthetic MSG, but gettting their natural glutamates fom kelp, dried mushroom, and such

                                    1. re: Professor Salt

                                      Good to know, thanks! I looked at the Yelp listing, and I see xiaolongbao and American Chinese wor wonton soup during dinner....whoa? The ramen sounds good though.

                                      1. re: K K

                                        Haven't tried the XLB, but I wouldn't trust it. 1) they're not known for it so it's not like they crank them out fresh all day long like Din Tai Fung in Arcadia and 2) Oki Doki is Japanese owned with a Pan Asian menu. Some of the non-Japanese stuff is mediocre, and I am assuming the XLB falls into that category. But take one for the team if you're going, will ya?

                                        The wor wonton soup is good, but I personally like the sizzling rice soup better. They both use that awesome chicken stock. Both have pieces of boneless skinless chicken breast that are tough as rubber and devoid of flavor. My guess is that the breasts are hard-boiled remnants of the broth making process.

                                        -----
                                        Din Tai Fung Restaurant
                                        1108 S Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007

                                      1. re: OCAnn

                                        Very likely between Anaheim and a drive down from Northern California, or on the way heading back up. "On the way" is key here, with some deviation allowed.

                                        1. re: K K

                                          Gotcha. Here are a couple more ramen-yas to add to the mix (or confusion! =).

                                          A bit out of the way is Foo Foo Tei in Hacienda Heights. Our (mine & Mr OCAnn's) is nanchatte tonkotsu. Here are two reviews from our ramen hounds:
                                          http://exilekiss.blogspot.com/2008/11...
                                          http://www.goramen.com/search/label/F...

                                          A bit closer to D'land in Stanton is Gomen Ramen. I haven't yet tried it, but it's on our radar to visit soon. This is the review that got me curious; note though, that it's from 2008:
                                          http://www.goramen.com/2008/04/gomen-...

                                          And here are his ramen rankings for your area--might help you to decide whether his palate matches yours (or not):
                                          http://www.goramen.com/2009/03/northe...

                                          1. re: OCAnn

                                            Thanks so much! Will research and hopefully decide/figure out, and report back in a couple o' months!