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Ton Chan Ramen (SGV)

Once again, Chandavkl has failed me.

I avoid the Mission/Las Tunas intersection for a couple of days, and whoa! what do you know ... another new restaurant mushrooms up.

This time it's a ramen joint.

We were enticed by their promo of a free ramen bowl on Super Bowl Sunday, but never made it there. Instead, we tried it last night.

I'm no ramen expert, but I enjoyed our meal there. The ramen are pork-based (or Tonkotsu), but you get your choice of Shiso, Shoyu, and Miso (does that make sense?) broth. And the typical fixings are all offered from what I can tell - e.g., chasu, soft-boiled egg, naruto (fish cake), mushroom, etc.

I liked the broth of the ramen, the fixings were all fine but nothing extraordinary, the service was friendly.

The menu also has rice bowls and gyozas and some other stuff that I can't remember right now. They mentioned that they might be adding Japanese-style fried chicken in the future, as well.

Oh, and before I forget, Ton Chan takes a playbook from Orochon w/r/t to the spiciness of their ramen broth, with a 0 = no spice and 6 = "I'm sweating out tears". (Also, if you go, see if you can spot the spelling error on Level 5 spiciness.) But word to the wise, if you go, opt for the Level 0. This is good broth, don't ruin it - or hide its inherent depth and flavor -- with a bunch of chili paste (which is what they use).

If there are any ramen experts out there (rameniac?), I'd be curious to hear your thoughts.

Ton Chan Ramen
821 West Las Tunas Dr (next to Golden Deli)
San Gabriel
(626) 282-3478

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  1. Thanks for the info. I will check it out.

    1. I've been there three times already. The first time was right after they opened, so the food was a little shaky. Broth and noodles (I believe I got the Shoyu that time) were both good, but the chashu was dry and tasteless. I made a comment about that to the server and it seems like they took that criticism to heart because the second time I went, the chashu was great!

      I like that their egg is usually perfectly cooked -- the yolk is still a bit soft and liquidy.

      Not sure if it's a promotion or not, but every time I've gone I've gotten a free plate of gyoza and a dessert pudding.

      Yes, the depth and flavor of the both is great, but if you like spice, don't hesitate to get a bit of the spicy paste on the side. The paste they give you has a lot of heat and a great smoky flavor that really enhances the broth.

      1 Reply
      1. re: PandanExpress

        Yes, closer to soft-boiled than actually boiled. Good egg technique.

      2. I think you mean Shio (salt), not Shiso (perilla leaf)?

        Thanks for the tip. I'll have to check it out next time I'm in the area.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mrhooks

          Gak. Yes, you're right. Shio, not Shiso.


        2. A buddy of mine (fellow ramen fiend) went on opening night and once again afterwards - Definitely good, he says, and the hanjyuku egg is legit.

          Love the "smoky broth" trend in the L.A. ramen-yas lately, so I needs to makes a pilgrimage to this place soon. Will report back.

          1 Reply
          1. re: J.L.

            went yesterday...it was GREAT! highly recommended. Glad to have something within short driving distance from Pasadena!

          2. Hey TonChan made some updates to their menu since the last time I went back in March or April. They now have other rice dishes like hamburger steak, chicken teriyaki, spam musubi, chicken kara-age, curry, and fried rice omelet. I haven't tried them all but the hamburger steak, curry, and chicken kara-age were all really good.

            I would say out of all the flavors, I really liked their miso broth the best and I prefer it without the chili paste since I feel the spiciness just masks the rich flavors of the broth. Tonchan is probably in the top 3 ramen places in socal along with Yamadaya and Santouka and maybe Daikokuya if they go back to their old ways.

            Also a heads up if you're in the area. They are having a 50% off event today July 3rd from 5pm. It might be a good time to check out their other dishes.

            14 Replies
            1. re: XI ShinE XI

              This is rather disheartening. Once they stray from their craft, I imagine the ramen will suffer. The kitchen looks to be constantly in the weeds as is, with the menu even more diverse & complicated.... I think "rut-roh".

              Cold ramen & tsukemen also came online this weekend?

              1. re: TonyC

                What do you mean by online? Anyway yes they do have cold ramen and tsukemen as their summer special. I tried the cold ramen and it was good and the portion was quite big. They give you double the amount of noodles.

                I dont think it's a bad idea that they are trying to add more items to their menu. Their menu is still quite simple and not as diverse as Shinsengumi. I know their kitchen is very small but adding a few items won't hinder their ramen in my opinion.

                1. re: TonyC

                  I took advantage of the non-carpocalypse to pop my tsukemen cherry, and I was very pleased with what Ton Chan has to offer. The broth is reduced to a thin gravy-like consistency, and served warm. Looks and tastes like they're using a healthy amount of the black garlic oil, but the garlic isn't overpowering - it lends itself well to the complex, salty flavor of the broth. Doesn't taste overwhelmingly or one dimensionally porky, which is nice.

                  I was a fool to ask for half thin, half thick noodles, but I wanted to try both. Definitely ordered an extra plate of the thick curly noodles for $1.50 which actually turned out to be a good call because there was more than enough dipping sauce to go with all the noodles. There's a healthy portion of chashu in the dipping suace, about 10-12 smaller pieces.

                  I liked the spam masubi - the rice was perfectly cooked. Could have used a thicker slice of spam, though. They have excellent hot sauce which is nice slathered on top of the musubi.

                  Place was pretty dead while Golden Deli had a long wait. Hope it does well. the people seem really nice - I got great service even while the Women's World Cup was playing!

                  Golden Deli
                  815 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                  1. re: maiweezy

                    I finally caught a whiff of this bowl, and was floored. Beyond the black garlic oil, I tasted just a ridiculous amount of (what I perceive to be) anchovies.

                    The soup base isn't conducive to drinking, but with the curly noodles on the side, it's portioned enough to generous serve as dunks for 2 portions of carbs. It's so overwhelmingly I had to take breaks and slurp from the dining companions' tonkotso broths to ease the sensory overload.

                    Continue to be a big big fan of this place, and saddened by its emptiness relative to the prosaic Vietnamese next door. Always thought these corners needed a nail salon more than a gringo attractant.

                    1. re: TonyC

                      Do any of the places in the plaza do even a third of the business Golden Deli does? Nail salon...what about foot massage? Or is that just needed on Valley?

                      Golden Deli
                      815 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                      1. re: TonyC

                        It does fairly decent business on weekends as for weekdays it does vary.

                        I didn't bother to ask last time but will they thin out the dipping sauce after you are done with your noodles like some places in Tokyo?

                        1. re: TonyC

                          I had the tsukemen too, a few weeks ago. I didn't get "anchovies" per se but it was epically salty (and I have a pretty high tolerance for salt). Does anyone know whether that's typical for tsukemen? I'd never had tsukemen before, so have no basis for comparison.

                          1. re: Peripatetic

                            Tsukemen in general is pretty salty to begin with but I haven't tried the one at TonChan yet so I can't really say much. I'm not much of tsukemen fan to begin with but I guess I'll try it the next time I head out there.

                            I was at TonChan last week, not for the ramen but for their karaage curry and I must say it was really good. I asked for level 3 spiciness for the curry and it had a perfect amount of heat.

                            TonChan is also having a ramen speed eating contest on Sept. 4 from 5pm-9pm! There is a spicy challenge and a regular challenge. The 1st and 2nd place for the spicy challenge gets free ramen for 1year and the 3rd place gets free ramen for 6 months. For the regular challenge, 1st place gets free ramen for a year and 2nd and 3rd gets free ramen for 6 months. I'll probably be competing. Anybody else going?

                            1. re: Peripatetic

                              Tsukemen is supposed to be much more concentrated because whatever flavor you get is only what sticks to the noodles after you dip them in the broth.

                              1. re: matikin9

                                I asked the server where the fishiness in the tsukemen comes from, and he said they dry a fish called "ivoshi" (he said it's a small Japanese fish "kind of" similar to anchovy - did a google search but nothing came up on it though) then they grind it up with salt and add it to the tsukemen broth.

                                Regarding the saltiness, now having sampled a few other tsukemen bowls, Tonchan's is certainly on the saltier side, even for tsukemen. I like it though, the saltiness enhances the garlic and fishy elements.

                                I was very impressed by the number of competitors and times for the ramen speed eating challenge! Fastest time for the regular bowl was 1:57.

                                1. re: maiweezy

                                  iwashi is sardine.

                                  Both are obviously hikari mono. Good to know I was close.

                                  Now, maiweezy, Eastward bound to Fujin, please.

                                  1. re: maiweezy

                                    I think the "ivoshi" you heard about may be a "niboshi". Small dried fish, often used to make stock. Quite salty.

                                    1. re: Tripeler

                                      Duh, that sounds even closer. Win! Thanks for that.

                                      For a second I was thinking: whoah, they're drying their own sardines? Hard core.

                                      1. re: TonyC

                                        Nawww, niboshi are in every Japanese supermarket, sold cheaply in large plastic bags. Actually, I detect very little "anchoviness" in them, but there is a little. because it is the whole fish, there is a full, complex flavor to them when dried.

                      2. Hmm I should give them another try, I wasn't impressed with their ramen when I went but that was only one visit.

                        I'll check it out Friday if possible, the idea of hamburger steak sounds cool though.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Johnny L

                          I've been there about 3-4 times now and generally, TonChan satisfies my ramen cravings as someone who lives out in the SGV (but wishes for a worm hole to jump to Gardena). Is their ramen as good as Santouka or Jinya or the Gardena spots? Nope. They still have a ways to go to perfecting a really memorable broth. But what they put out is good for what it is and it's a valuable addition to the magical Las Tunas/Mission corner.

                          3760 S Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                          1. re: odub

                            I still pretty miffed we can't get a good ramen restaurant here, I can only eat at Shin Sen Gumi so much.

                            Daikokuya really wants me to hate their ramen since it seems to become more bland each time I eat it. I wish something like Asa or Jinya would move out here.

                            Of course there is also Foo Foo Tei but it satisfies a different sort of ramen craving I suppose.

                            327 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                            1. re: Johnny L

                              Right now, I'd put TonChan ahead of Daikokuya (but I find the latter to be profoundly overrated). I think they're a legitimately...decent ramen shop. I know that sounds like damning with faint praise but really, if you're in the SGV and you 1) don't feel like driving 30-45 minutes for ramen or 2) don't want to hit up Shin Sen Gumi again, it'll do the job.

                              I was going to joke that TonChan to the SGV is like Hop Li to the Westside but it's kind of apples and oranges.

                              I still need to try Tamaya again, now that I think about it.

                              327 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                              17142 Colima Rd Ste E, Hacienda Heights, CA 91745

                        2. So anybody going to TonChan tomorrow Sept. 4 for their ramen speed eating contest? I think I can murk one of their bowls in less than 2 minutes. Winners get free ramen for a year or 6 months so it should be worth going.

                          2 Replies
                            1. re: XI ShinE XI

                              This is where I kick myself for not having checked this thread sooner. My best gorging days are far behind me but with the promise of a year's worth of free ramen, I would've rallied and competed. How was it?

                            2. I am not a Rameniac by any means, but today was my second visit to Ton Chan. The first one was a long time ago, so today when I saw the menu, it seemed like a much more expanded version than the first time.
                              I had the Hakata Shio broth with bokchoy and kikurage mushrooms as the two additional toppings. I also had the spic tuna roll. The ramen and particularly the broth was very good for my untrained taste buds (vis-a-vis ramen). Their ramen bowl is very large, so now that they have a half ramen bowl, next time I will order that instead.
                              I like my broth spicy, so I did choose the level 3 spiciness, but perhaps a level 2 would have been sufficient. They offered the free lemony custard at the end and that helped cool down!
                              It is still very empty - there was only one other table with two diners during the half hour I was there for lunch. I hope they survive!

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: suvro

                                I do worry about Ton-Chan. They're rarely full.

                                1. re: Peripatetic

                                  They've been open over a year now. Must be doing something ok.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    I've been going around once a month (usually for dinner) since last March (first visit was the night of the tsunami!). Back then they were very busy, but less so now. They're definitely doing something ok: making decent ramen. But for reasons I don't understand they aren't crazy busy.

                                    1. re: Peripatetic

                                      Golden Deli might have something to do with it. They also need to advertise in the Chinese Newspapers because sadly enough Ajisen in both Temple City and San Gabriel both get good business on weekdays.

                                      1. re: Peripatetic

                                        I went back today for lunch, and it was comforting to see that 6 other tables were occupied.
                                        I had the half sized Sapporo Miso and it was quite satisfying.

                                        I also ended up ordering the 6 piece Teppan Gyoza. These were quite unusual and good - the covering seemed like a rough textured wheat dough - I have never had gyozas like these before. The inside also seemed to have a slight soupy component, though not very pronounced like xlb. Came with its own dipping sauce.

                                        Next time I have to try the other noodles category. Portions are too large for my personal preference.

                                        1. re: Peripatetic

                                          I had a not so good experience today.

                                          As I have said above, the full size ramen is too large a portion for me - so the last few visits, I have been ordering the half size ramen. On one previous trip, the server asked me if I had a ramen card - I said no. She then gave me a card and said I should get it stamped everytime I ate - since after 10 purchases, they give you one free.

                                          Today's server - the server has changed in each of my last 3 visits - refused to stamp it because he said it was for the full size ramen purchase (the price difference is like $2 or so). This was the first time someone said that. When I said that the last few servers did not mention that (and it says nothing like this on the card itself) - he wanted to know who it was on those earlier trips that incorrectly stamped the card!!!

                                          I think that will be the last time I have visited this place. Lines are still large outside Golden Deli and this place is still empty. Now they won't need to worry about my business anymore!

                                          1. re: suvro

                                            So you're stopping over a frequent buyers card?

                                            How about.. take the large bowl broth home, buy some fresh ramen from Mitsuwa down the street, reboil stock and dump in noodles. That saving will beat the free bowl of ramen.

                                            Or you can eat that shit for pho at GD. *shrug*

                                            1. re: TonyC

                                              agreed. I don't get the lines at GD. My in-laws thought it was pretty low quality food.

                                  2. Tonchan is having their 2nd Ramen Speed Eating Contest tomorrow Sunday May 20th from 3pm-5pm. The entry is $10 including the ramen and if you win 1st place, you get free ramen for 1year, 2nd place gets 6 months, and 3rd place gets 3 months. You just have to show up and fill out an entry form and bring an ID. Hope to see some of you guys there! I'll try to get at least 3rd place. The fastest time from last year was 1 minute and 57 seconds or something.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: XI ShinE XI

                                      The ramen speed eating contest is today from 3-5pm. Anybody going?

                                    2. After slightly more than 2 years...Ton Chan is gone :(

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: dreamcast18

                                        I went there today and its doors were locked.

                                        I had gone two weeks back, when it was open. I sat down, and then the waitperson came 3 minutes later and apologized - the cook had not shown up, and she called to learn he would not be there for another 20 mins or more!

                                        The place was always empty for lunch on recent visits.

                                        1. re: dreamcast18

                                          The place started off strong and just couldn't keep it up. It showed over time as the quality declined.

                                        2. Benten is coming: http://la.eater.com/archives/2013/07/...

                                          grapevine (ramen blogs) says it's not the "best" tsukemen in Tokyo, but a solid in Japan will probably shock LA.

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: TonyC

                                            opens tomorrow? I'm gonna go check it out for lunch then..thanks for the heads up!

                                            1. re: TonyC

                                              Could this finally be the first "great" ramen restaurant in the SGV?

                                              1. re: Johnny L

                                                I find it really interesting that almost all of the ramenyas in sgv are lacking in quality. The closest thing to the good shops that litter west LA and the torrance/gardena area is (imo) yukino-ya in arcadia

                                                I'm hoping for a santouka or yamada-ya level place to open.. nothing yet..

                                                1. re: blimpbinge

                                                  Been waiting a long time, so long that these days I'm not interested in eating ramen that much anymore. Still this will be good for the neighborhood and maybe it will attract more high quality Japanese establishments if it works out.

                                                  1. re: Johnny L

                                                    Sad to see Tonchan go but this sounds interesting. I guess I'll head out there for lunch later today. Hope it's good.