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Sep 22, 2005 05:28 PM

Ramen Wars!

  • m

Long ago on a continent far far away...


Mr. Taster and his lovely Tasting Assistant

This week...

Tuesday night: RAMEN-YA!

On Olympic, near Sawtelle. Gyoza unspectacular. Cubed cold tofu appetizer with ginger, garlic, soy sauce and green onions was surprisingly tasty. Ramen soup... (added wontons for $1.50). Wontons wimpy and largely flavorless. Really nice, chewy noodles, *super* tender stewed pork (not enough, however) and a tasty but unspectacular soy broth. $17 out the door.

Weds night: Asahi Ramen

On Sawtelle. Gyoza similarly unspectacular (are there any in this town that are spectacular?). Shredded cucumber and chicken appetizer with sesame seeds and soy ginger marinade was the tastiest thing we had (about $3) The ramen? Weird, perfectly circular slices of dry, flavorless Porc(tm). Looked like it was sliced from a formed loaf. Startling in it's contrast to the lovely succulent, tender bits of stewed prok we had the night before. Noodles not as chewy, but broth was similar (i.e. unspectacular). Total bill... $18

Tonight.... Daikokoya(sp?)

In Little Tokyo. Have read several great posts about this place on CH... including one account of a person who took his homesick Japanese friend and when he tasted the ramen, he cried. I am hoping to have a similar experience tonight. Any ordering suggestions?

And now... the future. What other outstanding ramen places does LA have to offer?


Mr. Taster

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  1. Please try the gyoza at Daikoyuya and let me know how you think they compare...I think they're tasty, although greasy.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Chowpatty
      Don't Get Ramen

      I've only been to one Ramen restaurant - Kinchan's on Sawtelle, which has a decent rep on this board. The noodles had a consistency identical to spaghetti. It was boring. Is this the nature of ramen or just Kinchan's?

      1. re: Don't Get Ramen

        I've had a similar expereicne w/ the ramen at Ramen-Ya on Pico. First off, I couldn't believe I was dragged to PAY for ramen, and then when I tasted it, I was so mad at how awful it tasted. I'll stick to eating ramen at home, and you can make it look like the restaurant served kind by just adding an egg, some chopped up green onion, maybe some slices of beef or chicken....I'll never try another ramen place again.

        1. re: WaterIsGood

          I am going to have to disagree. A proper bowl of ramen at a good shop cannot be compared to instant ramen dressed up at home. I encourage you to try another shop with an open mind. Dont let your first bad experience turn you off from such a great meal

          1. re: MEalcentric

            I second that notion!! I stuffed myself silly on instant ramen in college, ignorant of the existence of the true stuff. The first true glorious ramen I ever had was in Honolulu, and you will always remember your first. There is plenty of good ramen to be had in L.A. -- you will know it when you taste it. Think about those places that have great soup: totally different from canned soup. It's all about the slow-cooked broth and the homemade noodles. Daikokuya should change your mind -- if not, more for MEEE!

            1. re: kimpossible1138

              Amen, sista! PS, LOVE the screen name. I like that naked mole rat, rufus.

              And Ramen-Ya is a ramen mecca. Check youtube for my homemade Ramen-Ya commercial.... coming soon.

          2. re: WaterIsGood

            You need to try either Daikokuya's ramen in Little Tokyo, or Shin Sen Gumi's ramen (get them hard/al dente... a little more chewy).

            Comparing great ramen like Daikokuya to home ramen is like comparing great basmati rice to Uncle Ben's instant rice.

            Give it another chance. If Daikokuya won't satisfy you, I promise not to bug you again. :)

      2. re: spectacular gyoza

        Tokyo Cafe on Judge John Aiso Street downtown has the best gyoza. I think I've mentioned them a couple times here, but let me just say again how much I love these. They are not like the sub-par,crescent-shaped, doughy potsticker-type gyoza that you find in too many places around here. These are delicate, thin-skinned rectangular pinched pillows of savory herb and pork goodness, fried til crispy on both sides. I accompany them with a mixture of rice-wine vinegar, chili oil and a touch of soy sauce, and dig in. I don't have the menu in front of me, but they have a gyoza meal that comes with rice, or you can order them as a side/appetizer - look on the back page of the menu. I think they're $3.50 for an order of 6. I usually get 2 orders alone.

        I don't remember their hours, but I have a feeling they close early- they're primarily a lunch place. But call and see if they're open while you're downtown tonight and stop by Tokyo Cafe first for a gyoza appetizer.

        TOKYO CAFE
        116 Judge John Aiso St
        Los Angeles, CA
        (213) 628-3017

        1 Reply
        1. re: h2obemo

          Was there last night (see my current ramen report). They were open until 8:00.

          Mr. Taster

        2. r
          rabo encendido

          Nice one, Taster-san...

          At Daikokuya, make sure to get their gyoza. Outstanding.

          Ramen-ya---agree that the pork in their ramen is excellent (second only to...Daikokuya). For the best experience, get the chashumen, which has loads of that tender, fatty pork. A little pricier than other selections, but worth it.

          For my yen, DAIKOKUYA and RAMEN-YA are the places that most remind me of Japan. I've heard excellent things about SANTOKA RAMEN, but I'm not sure if your ramen explorations will take you to OC.

          A couple of other places you could try.

          KOURAKU---I love this place, but their take on ramen----a real greasy spoon version---is not to everyone's liking. Menu is extensive, so I would recommend ordering one bowl of ramen (the "gomoku-ramen" is my fave) and something else (perhaps unagi donburi? (eel over rice)), so you and your lovely tasting assistant can maximize flavors.

          OROCHON RAMEN---in Weller Court. Their gimmick here is spice---their ramen comes at different levels of heat, the lower the number the hotter it is. I had a "3" that wrecked me for the rest of the day (and I think I'm fairly heat tolerant). Truthfully, I don't care for this joint, but might be worth sampling. Ignore the whole spice things and get a "ten". Ramen isn't supposed to set the plumming ablaze.

          KYUSHU RAMEN---in Van Nuys. Hit or miss. Good miso ramen, good champon (spicy seafood ramen), but the jia-jia men I had there on Monday was too salty. The gyoza are not bad.

          Looking forward to further installments. Gambatte, Taster-san!

          Kouraku Restaurant
          314 E. 2nd St.
          (213) 687-4972

          Orochon Ramen
          (213) 617-1766
          123 Astronaut E S Onizuka St
          Los Angeles, CA 90012

          Kyushu Ramen
          (818) 786-6005
          15355 Sherman Way
          Van Nuys, CA 91406

          2 Replies
          1. re: rabo encendido

            Santoka is Above Avg. Lots of MSG...yuck.

            1. re: rabo encendido

              Ramen-Ya is not a place I would take a foreigner to get a taste of home. Although it is my favorite Ramen-ya in LA (I have YET to go to the legendary Daikokuya), I admit the appeal is the VARIETY. With over two dozen types of ramen, from ones with spicy egg drop soup base, to miso, to gravy... Ramen ya covers all bases. Depending on who's working, service fluxuates. But the Tan-tan men is the BEST and most original bowl of ramen I've had outside of Japan. ((Strangly enough, the beef and broccoli is off the hook, too.))

            2. I have always enjoyed Lai Lai Ken, at the corner of Beach Blvd & Ball Rd in Stanton/Anaheim. Decent roast pork ramen, fine gyoza and even decent shu-mai. Worth the drive from L.A., we make it about once a month. Good report thus far!

              1. My husband ordered ramen at Beacon last week and it came with a hunk of stunning braised kurabuto pork belly. I don't remember anything else about the meal but that pork belly was divine.