HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >


new (good) ramen shop alert: RAMEN MOTTAINAI in gardena (nano-review)

so there's a brand new ramen shop in gardena; ramen mottainai in marukai pacific square. shops have been cropping up a-plenty lately, but this place is pretty legit. they actually do a kogashi (burnt) miso ramen. by charring the miso paste, the soup takes on this fragrant flavor. their shoyu-tonkotsu ramen is authentic as well, done in the tradition of a proper yokohama ie-kei shop. anyone interested in checking out what "ie-kei" ramen is all about can get a pretty accurate representation of the dish here. the place opened on july 1 and doesn't even have a sign up yet (it's in the southwest corner next to the udon/soba shop), but it's good enough for me to tell you to go and try it already. enjoy!


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Nice review...on my to-go list now. But why "mottainai"? It makes me think that their portions are so huge that there might be some left over....

    2 Replies
    1. re: OCAnn

      nah the portions are normal-sized. there's a little story on the menu explaining their name, about how they use the best ingredients in nature and don't waste anything, or something like that.

    2. Gracias. On my radar.

      1. Stopped by after work today. It's in the corner where the Peruvian-Japanese restaurant used to be.

        I ordered a large Yokohama(shoyu-tonkotsu) with a "red bomb". The portion size was similar to a large at Santouka. Doesn't look that big initially, but it fills you up pretty quickly.

        The noodles are thicker and more substantial than I've had at any of the other ramen-yas in the area. The soup had visible flecks of pork fat floating in it and was nice and rich. Adding one of the flavoring bombs to this was overkill. The chili bomb wasn't that hot, incidentally. About the heat level of of spicy miso at Santouka.

        Overall a nice addition to the South Bay ramen scene.

        Next time I'll try the regular shoyu with the garlic-pig-fat-bomb!

        1. Excellent review as always: so how does Mottainai stack up compared to the other heavyweights in the area? If some place like, for example, Santouka is my gold standard, is Mottainai going to turn my head?

          3760 S Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90066

          1. Anyone know the hours of operation? Wondering if they're open for lunch today...

            1. whoa... i was totally there last week and i didn't even notice this place. maybe i'm used to that place/location going out of business?

              i'd love to know the hours and if they do take-out

              1 Reply
              1. re: catbert

                not sure about take-out, but i believe they're currently open until 10 or 10:30pm for the time being. they might stay open later, once they've settled in.

              2. I almost couldn't find it, because the signage still says it's a massage parlor.

                I had the tonkotsu shoyu with the "white bomb" (seabura and garlic) and marinated egg, and my friend dnahd the same, but with corn and butter. We both liked it a lot - it's about as good as it gets here in LA. The chashu isn't cut from the belly, but it's really good. I greatly prefer the thin Hakata-style noodles, but the noodles here are quite good, considering how thick they are. The soup is really what makes this place - the tonkotsu shoyu was the closest thing to Ippudo or Tatsunoya I've had from a place in LA. The "white bomb" was good - there was just enough garlic to give the soup a not-overpowering-but-not-entirely-subtle hit of flavor.

                The bamboo wasn't bad, but it was a bit sweeter than I'm used to. The only real miss for me was the egg. It was cooked okay, maybe a bit more done than I like (it was only slightly runny in the very center of the yolk), but the marinade had a very weird flavor, like some kind of alcoholic drink.

                Compared to Santouka, I think the soup is a little funkier and porkier, less sweet without the shellfish that Santouka's has. It's the only ramen soup in LA that gives me the same sort of vibe as the good places in Japan, although it's slightly subdued in terms of flavor concentration and oiliness (but not as subdued as the other LA places). The noodles are a little different but equally substantial and filling. Chashu, I prefer Santouka's cut (their regular chashu, not the toroniku), but Mottainai's seems to be of higher quality.

                The tonkotsu shoyu at Mottainai actually reminds me a bit of the tonkotsu at that new place in City of Industry, Yukino Ya (which I thought was good, but not quite on the top tier of LA ramenya). But with the exception of not having thin Hakata-style noodles, it's better in every way.

                3760 S Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                1. So they're closed Tuesdays, but serve lunch 11-3 and dinner from 5:30-10:30. ( http://blogs.laweekly.com/squidink/re...


                  I went by last night and had the miso ramen, which I've got to say, was really good. I think I may prefer it, just on a personal level, to Santouka. Should get better once they get the permit to make their own noodles (they're hoping for September).

                  3760 S Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90066