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(Chicken) Ramen in Little Tokyo

New girlfriend-like-thing announced today that she loves instant ramen. I mentioned that there actually is such a thing as REAL ramen, so now I feel I should introduce her to the stuff. Thing is, I know nothing about ramen. Where can I take her to try ramen with the following restrictions:

1. I am still recovering from growing up kosher, so while I LOVE THE PIG (I will fight you over how dry-rub is better than wet for ribs), the concept of pork soup still weirds me out a little. Plus, as all good Jews do, I love chicken soup. Hence, I'd like to go to a place with good chicken ramen. (Although, does this still come with pork chasu?)

2. From other reviews on the site, it seems that ramen-central is now in the South Bay. However, I don't really believe in the South Bay, as I always get frustratingly lost there. Is there still good ramen to be found in Little Tokyo? (I've read that Daikokuya has gone downhill.)

3. Do I need to head to Little Japan on Sawtelle and Olympic and brave the non-existent parking?

4. We are both poor, as she's in grad school (hence the love of instant ramen) and I'm a struggling whatever. So no high-end, next-to-me-is-Nicholas-Cage sort of joint is necessary.

Much Appreciated!

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

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  1. Since no one else has taken pity on you I will respond. Ramen Jinya, in Studio City on Ventura Blvd. just south of Eureka has excellent chicken-based ramen. This recommendation will perhaps be flamed as they had a bit of trouble with service early on (not the food mind you - service speed), but they have ironed things out. Its not Little Tokyo, but you won't have to deal with traffic. That said, while I respect your kosher scruples, IMHO - and I am a true haole, ramen is all about pork. Oh - Ramen Jinya is definitely reasonably priced. Enjoy.

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    Little Tokyo Restaurant
    150 E Bonita Ave, San Dimas, CA 91773

    Ramen Jinya
    11239 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

    6 Replies
    1. re: ebethsdad

      1. Gotta go goy all the way to truly embrace the ramen... But yes, Jinya is an acceptable stepping stone.

      2. Ya gotta get lost sometime. A food pilgrimage is as worthy a cause as any. South Bay is home to Mottainai, with its fabled flavor bombs. Ramenophiles flock here. Little Tokyo's ramen throne is vacant, IMO...

      3. Parking is VERY achievable at Sawtelle. (By the way, the moniker is Little Osaka, not Little Japan). But all bowls in that 'hood use pork broth as a base, as far as I know. Nearby, on Centinela, is Santouka, with its special broth (more porcine-based goodness).

      4. Not aware of any high end ramen joints. Ramen shouldn't make too much of a dent in the wallet.

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      Santouka
      3760 S Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90066

      1. re: J.L.

        Thank you to you both. I'm sure I'll step up to authentic pork ramen eventually, but I'd like to stick my toe in with chicken first. Ramen Jinya it is, although Ramen California also sounds interesting.

        Oh, and thanks for the name update on Little Osaka!

        I heartily believe in getting lost for food, just the South Bay annoys me somehow. All the streets and intersections look depressingly similar, with chain stores and restaurants. However, what really gets me is that every time I go I take the 405 there and then somehow cannot find it on the way back, and then I end up on the 105 which inevitably leads me to El Segundo which then begs the question: HOW AM I BEHIND THE AIRPORT?!?! I THOUGHT THE OCEAN WAS BEHIND THE AIRPORT!

        but, in deference to you two, I make the trip. If I get lost, though, I'm calling you...

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        Ramen California
        24231 Crenshaw Blvd, Torrance, CA 90505

        Ramen Jinya
        11239 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

        1. re: Rosiepigs

          Most of LA has similar looking intersections and strip malls and the fact that blocks there are less dense than mid city should make it easier to navigate. You should consider breaking out of your comfort zone; the idea of avoiding neighborhoods with good food because the street layout intimidates you is hard to sympathize with.

      2. re: ebethsdad

        lolz. Taken pity...

        Ramen Cal seems the perfect answer to OP's self-created conumdrum. Granted the price tag ($9) and the drive may piss you off but...

        It seems no one is empathetic towards the claim of Judaism as the cause of the pork soup phobia.

        1. re: TonyC

          Classically, ramen is a pork broth. What else needs to be said?

          1. re: TonyC

            Oh dear I should explain - Rosiepigs post had been on for almost a day with no responses which prompted my "pity" remark. I meant no disrespect to kosher scruples although as J.L points out ramen is about pork. I hope either Ramen Jinya or Ramen California afford Rosiepigs and the girlfriend a wonderful meal. Don't try the chashu though...you'll be hooked.

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            Ramen California
            24231 Crenshaw Blvd, Torrance, CA 90505

            Ramen Jinya
            11239 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

        2. Jinya is good, and parking is plentiful in the building basement (the shade is important in the Valley in July). Don't be shocked if there's a wait for the food though. Time for conversation or a Sudoku.

          South Bay or Sawtelle, after your meal pick up some better-grade instant ramen at Mitsuwa or other market of your choice.

          1. I think there's a Santouka on the westside. I've been to one in SD, and several times in Tokyo. You MUST get the "salt" ramen. I'm still a big fan of Little Tokyo's Daikokuya... way more than Orochon. However, the line's a battle, usually.

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

            Santouka
            3760 S Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90066

            2 Replies
            1. re: tenxtone76

              Santouka is at the Mistuwa Market food court on Centinela in West LA. Though the shio "salt" bowl is very good, I think the special pork broth (#7 or #8) is even better.

              Daikokuya's gone way downhill since it opened, in my opinion.

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

              Santouka
              3760 S Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90066

              1. re: J.L.

                Just back from Little Tokyo. My friends and I went into this place in Weller Court called Yakitori Koshiji and they have chicken ramen on the menu. Since none of us were in the mood for a hot soup we opted for other items so I can't vouch for the quality. The food was good (but not great) and the servings were kind of small. Service is nice, but perhaps a bit slow. Seeing as it's a yakitori place, the specialty seems to be skewered chicken. The skewers are pretty small.
                Yakitori Koshiji
                123 S. Onizuka Street, #203
                Los Angeles, CA 90012
                213-626-4989

            2. Hana Ichimonme
              333 S. ALAMEDA ST., #303, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA 90013
              (213)626-3514
              Food Style: Ramen Restaurant Style: Casual
              Hours: 11:15am-8:00pm / 11:15am-3:00pm (Wed)
              Closed: Wednesday (Dinner)

              Sanuki No Sato
              18206 S Western Ave
              Gardena Ca 90248
              405 fwy south off at western turn right (north) turn in right in parking lot befroe 182nd st.

              Kotohira Restaurant
              1747 W Redondo Beach Blvd Gardena Ca
              405 fwy south off at Western turn right (north) past Redondo bch blvd (abt 3 miles) Right turn into Tozai Plaza ...accross Gardena Honda.

              No big deal...Yahoo or google maps can't get lost..or turn on your GPS / Garman..

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              Kotohira Restaurant
              1747 W Redondo Beach Blvd, Gardena, CA 90247

              Sanuki No Sato
              18206 S Western Ave, Gardena, CA 90248

              Hana Ichimonme Restaurant
              333 S Alameda St Ste 303, Los Angeles, CA 90013

              1. Most of the ramen places in the South Bay aren't far from the freeway, although I suppose the on/off-ramp layout is sometimes weird (on cross-streets from each other, for example). If you want to make it easy on yourself, just take the 110 to the 91 to Artesia Blvd. and enter/leave the South Bay that way. That's close enough to most of the good ramen places anyway.

                The only problem with that will be Ramen California, which is significantly further south on the 110, and not close to the freeway. it's still pretty easy to find though. I must agree with those who feel that hating the South Bay because of your own refusal to use navigational aids / insistence on navigating by intuition and landmarks won't get any pity.

                BTW, Horon (also in the South Bay) once had a chiciken ramen special. I wasn't fond of the chicken meat - it was white, and not as good as Ramen California's - but the broth was funkier, in that oily, unrefined, tonkotsu-esque way (though not as good as their tonkotsu ramen broth). Like their tonkotsu ramen though, it was a very minimalist bowl - broth, noodles, scallions, and a bit of meat, and I think that might have been it. I don't make it there very often, and I only saw it once.

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                Ramen California
                24231 Crenshaw Blvd, Torrance, CA 90505

                Horon
                2143 W. 182nd Street, Torrance, CA 90504