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What's your fav ramen shop and why?

Mine is Hanaichimonme in Little Tokyo. Located in the 2nd Floor of what used to be the Mitsuwa Mall shopping center (now Woori), it's a small shop with authentic ramen and they come in these adorable sets! My favorite is the curry and ramen combo. You get a small chicken curry with a bowl of traditional ramen. They also have a great window display of plastic Japanese food.

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

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  1. yamadaya, because it's close to school and good enough. extra noodles for free! oh, and it's quiet.

    robata jinya, my fav bowl of ramen in socal, is too far away and not really a ramen shop.

    1. mottainai, wok'd butter corn + miso

      8 Replies
      1. re: ns1

        Mottainai, smoky Sapporo style with flavor bombs...

        Santouka, special Premium Pork Broth #7...

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        Santouka
        3760 S Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90066

        1. re: J.L.

          amen on special premium pork #7. just had that 5 days ago haha.

          1. re: J.L.

            Ramen Mottainai is the best I've had in the LA area. Flavor bomb indeed.
            http://mottainairamen.com/

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            Ramen Mottainai
            1630 W. Redondo Beach Blvd., Suite #9, Gardena, CA 90247

            1. re: wienermobile

              Yeah, I was just at Mottainai for the second time this weekend. I couldn't resist getting the smoky miso w/ butter corn again. My wife opted for the soy broth. Soy was fine. Smoky miso was, again, OUTSTANDING and my wife made we switch with her halfway through :)

              Mr Taster

                1. re: Mr Taster

                  I crave that miso butter corn ramen daily.

                2. re: wienermobile

                  I got confused trying to find this place last year. I have to try again.

            2. Big fan of Ramen Jinya in Studio City.

              I rather like Santouka as well.

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

              Ramen Jinya
              11239 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

              1. Down in Orange County it's going to be Gomen. While I also like Shin Sen Gumi and Santouka, Gomen comes out just a little bit better IMHO. The only setback is that Gomen is only open very weird hours, and they don't even stick to those hours a lot of the time. So if you're not local, you may be very disappointed in making the trek out there to find out they closed early, or haven't opened yet. But if you get in and get to try it, mmmm delicious.

                Clean, tasty broth, and various kinds too. The fried rice/ramen combo is a very good deal, and the chashu pork is just melt-in-your-mouth goodness. I always order extra chashu, it's that good.

                1 Reply
                1. re: kingkong5

                  yeah the hours that Gomen keeps is definitely not convenient for folks like me. tastes pretty darn good though!

                2. Yamadaya, Horon, or Santouka, depending on my mood. Usually Yamadaya. I don't think any one aspect of their ramen is the best around (not even the broth - though very good, I think there's an over-reliance on lard to enrich it, plus there's a gritty, rustic quality to Horon's broth that seems more to me like what you'd get in Japan, that Yamadaya's is lacking), but they do everything pretty well to very well, the serving is generous (moreso than the other two places I mentioned), and I prefer the Hakata style of ramen. Horon does a similar style, but it's not really a ramen shop, and the wait for a table sometimes can be long, so I don't go there as often as I would like. Plus, they're a little skimpy with the toppings.

                  The very best are those occasions when places like Tatsunoya or Hakata Ippudo visit from Japan and set up shop in Mitsuwa for a few days.

                  I used to love Hanaichimonme for their yakisoba, but I haven't been there in years. I remember liking their noodles, but the broth was too light, even for that style of ramen. I love their soup spoons.

                  1. 1. Tsujita (sawtelle) Super fatty broth, nice chew on the noodles, fatty-tender pork.

                    2. Mottainai: good basics and great creativity

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: AAQjr

                      2nd Tsujita as my #1. Just bonkers delicious. The fat will congeal at the top before you're done with your meal, it's that gloriously rich.

                      1. re: maiweezy

                        eww. is the soup served hot? it shouldn't congeal so quickly...

                        1. re: maiweezy

                          Am I the only one disgusted by this?

                          "The fat will congeal at the top before you're done with your meal, it's that gloriously rich."

                          1. re: ns1

                            I was done with my ramen and my brother was still working on his tsukemen. By the end of the meal there were little globules of fat floating at the top of my bowl but I was finished. I guess that is pretty gross, sorry! It's definitely served hot enough.

                            1. re: ns1

                              lol! It's really good. Seriously.

                        2. Recently had Ramen Yamadaya in Culver City. Best ramen I've had in LA so far. The broth was so complex and rich. The pork pieces tender, and nice chewy fresh noodles.

                          1. Kosuke in Alhambra. I love their tonkotsu and it is walking distance from my place :)

                            1. #1: Santouka -- their broth seems to have a hint of sake or wine or something that gives it a special flavor.

                              #2: Kosuke -- love their Kuro ramen with black oil, quite unusual!

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: chowchow12345678

                                1: Tsujita for Tsukumen, although I wish the broth was hotter.
                                2: Mottainai
                                3: Yamadaya - although not fond of Sun ramen they use.
                                4: Santouka
                                5: Jinya

                                Have not tried daikoku or asa or horon yet.

                                1. re: Sgee

                                  Your top 4 is my top 4 too! (though Santouka ranks #2 with me)

                                  Skip Daikokuya. Asa is worth a try.

                                  I bring my own sudachi to Tsujita (they use lime, which I feel detracts from the broth).

                                  You can also bring your own chili/spice/hot sauce to most ramen joints to add your own fire to your bowl...

                                  1. re: J.L.

                                    "I bring my own sudachi to Tsujita (they use lime, which I feel detracts from the broth)."

                                    Great idea JL, and Nijiya is conveniently located across the street. Also love Tsujita's spicy pickle.

                              2. Ramen Yamadaya on Washington because the broth is very flavorful and the spicy ramen is actually spicy! As I write this though, I'm wondering if other ramen shops have the spicy paste to add like Yamadaya does. I can only recall getting chilli oil whenever I ask for my ramen to be spicy, which absolutely does NOT to the trick.

                                Also, I'm not a ramen connoisseur and don't travel far just for ramen, so this is limited to the westside.

                                1 Reply
                                1. Robata Jinya recently opened Jinya Ramen in the Miracle Mile area.

                                  1. i'm surprised at the lack of responses to include daikokuya. that's where i set the bar. the wait is the worst part, but i understand why there is one to begin with. tender, perfectly cooked noodles, and the broth. it's the best part. i'm a brothy. i'm the type to order an XL pho and finish all of the soup in the bowl. daikokuya has by far, THE best broth i've ever tried. i might not have too many to compare with, but from the various places i HAVE tried, it leaves me longing for daikokuya, even right after the meal.

                                    16 Replies
                                    1. re: iluvmysh

                                      >> i might not have too many to compare with

                                      Welcome to the world of ramen, and welcome to Chowhound.

                                      10 years ago there weren't that many choices in LA for great ramen and I think Daikokuya was the gateway ramen place for many of us. It certainly was for me, and it's where I fell in love with the stuff. (This was after choking down a terrible bowl at Asahi ramen on Sawtelle... Daikokoya was ambrosia by comparison)

                                      However, over the last 10 years the bar has been raised to much greater heights. There are now many, many places to get good to great ramen. At the same time that these strong newcomers have stepped into the ring, Daikokoya has let itself go. I haven't been there in years, simply because there's no comparing Daikokoya's broth with the shio tonkotsu at Santouka, or the miso ramen at Mottainai. Asa ramen in Gardena is also very good (though I also haven't been in years) and the new upstart Tsujita on Sawtelle has been getting a whole lotta love here.

                                      For a comprehensive (if occasionally outdated) read on the state of ramen in Los Angeles, check out www.rameniac.com or search the Chowhound boards for the latest and greatest happenings in the world of LA ramen.

                                      Mr Taster

                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                        thank you for your input. my fiance and i will be reviewing that list rameniac in the very near future!

                                        1. re: iluvmysh

                                          I have utmost respect for ramaniac, but I would also weight this thread heavily in choosing places to try. As Mr Taster said, recent developments -- particularly in the last two years -- have upended the conventional wisdom. There are many excellent recently opened ramen specialists that ramaniac hasn't yet reviewed.

                                          1. re: Peripatetic

                                            care to elaborate on a list of ramen houses that haven't been reviewed yet that you feel may be a substantial contender in a ramen shoot-out? (i don't get out much in LA)

                                            1. re: iluvmysh

                                              I'm partially mistaken -- I was looking at rameniac's blog in chronological order, but not all of the reviews appear on this timeline. I thought I hadn't seen reviews for Yamadaya, Jinya or Mottainai, but they are there. That said, I didn't find reviews for these places that have received favorable attention for their ramen on this board:

                                              Fujin Ramen (opened Aug 2011)
                                              Hong Kong Plaza, 1017 S Glendora Ave, West Covina, CA 91790
                                              626-814-2020

                                              Tsujita LA / Artisan Noodle (opened Aug 2011)
                                              2057 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025
                                              310-231-7373
                                              http://tsujita-la.com/

                                              Yukino-Ya (opened Dec 2009)
                                              18230 E Gale Ave, Industry, CA 91748
                                              626-581-8420

                                              Kushiage Dining Horon (opened Dec 2009)
                                              2143 182nd St, Torrance, CA 90504
                                              310-515-6147

                                              1. re: Peripatetic

                                                Hmmm, I've been to Fujin and Yukino. In my humble opinion, I still feel that Daiko is leaps and bounds superior to those places.
                                                What I like about Yukino is their frequent eater - stamp for discounts program :)

                                                The other two, I have not tried.

                                                1. re: iluvmysh

                                                  Of those four places, Tsujita seems to be the standout, based on what I've read from the ramen hounds. (I haven't made it there yet.)

                                                  Have you been to Yamadaya, Jinya or Mottainai yet. Or even older places like Santouka, Asa or Foo Foo Tei? If so, do you still prefer Daikokuya to these?

                                                  These days, due to location, I'm at Ton Chan more often than the others. While Ton Chan can't really be called a heavyweight, I still prefer it to the muddy mess I remember having at Daikokuya when I first moved to LA five years ago.

                                                  1. re: Peripatetic

                                                    I haven't been to the aforementioned 6 you've mentioned in your post. I will definitely be giving those a try. I'm going to google their location shortly. I'm in the IE so it's a bit of a trek for me.

                                                    1. re: iluvmysh

                                                      Wow, it must be something of a curse to be a ramen lover in the IE!

                                                      If it helps, here's my far-from-complete list of notable ramen places, ordered from newest to oldest for recently opened places:

                                                      Ramen Jinya (opened Dec 2011)
                                                      5174 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
                                                      323-549-0188
                                                      http://www.jinya-la.com/ramen/

                                                      Ikemen Dip Noodle (opened Aug 2011)
                                                      1655 N La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046
                                                      323-800-7669
                                                      http://www.ikemenhollywood.com/

                                                      Fujin Ramen (opened Aug 2011)
                                                      Hong Kong Plaza, 1017 S Glendora Ave, West Covina, CA 91790
                                                      626-814-2020

                                                      Ramen Yamadaya (opened Aug 2011)
                                                      11172 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230
                                                      310-815-8776
                                                      http://www.ramen-yamadaya.com/

                                                      Tsujita LA / Artisan Noodle (opened Aug 2011)
                                                      2057 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025
                                                      310-231-7373
                                                      http://tsujita-la.com/

                                                      Ton-Chan (ramen) (opened Dec 2010)
                                                      821 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776
                                                      626-282-3478

                                                      Ramen Yamadaya (opened 2010)
                                                      3118 W 182nd St, Torrance, CA 90504
                                                      310-380-5555
                                                      http://www.ramen-yamadaya.com/

                                                      Ramen Jinya (opened July 2010)
                                                      11239 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604
                                                      818-980-3977
                                                      http://www.jinya-la.com/ramen

                                                      Ramen Mottainai (opened Jul 2010)
                                                      1630 W Redondo Beach Blvd, Gardena, CA
                                                      310-538-3250

                                                      Yukino-Ya (opened Dec 2009)
                                                      18230 E Gale Ave, Industry, CA 91748
                                                      626-581-8420

                                                      Kushiage Dining Horon
                                                      2143 182nd St, Torrance, CA 90504
                                                      310-515-6147

                                                      Asa Ramen
                                                      18202 S Western Ave, Gardena, CA 90248
                                                      310-769-1010

                                                      Santouka Ramen at Mitsuwa Marketplace
                                                      21515 Western Ave, Torrance, CA 90501
                                                      310-782-0335
                                                      http://mitsuwanj.com/

                                                      Santouka Ramen at Mitsuwa Marketplace
                                                      3760 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066
                                                      310-398-2113
                                                      http://mitsuwanj.com/

                                                      Foo Foo Tei
                                                      15018 Clark Ave, Hacienda Heights, CA 91745
                                                      626-937-6585

                                                      Kosuke (very mixed reviews)
                                                      618 W Main St, Alhambra, CA 91801
                                                      626-289-8030

                                                      Shin Sen Gumi
                                                      18617 S Western, Gardena, CA 90247
                                                      310-715-1588
                                                      http://www.shinsengumiusa.com/

                                                      1. re: Peripatetic

                                                        I should print this out and keep it in my wallet! LOL

                                                        thanks for the list!

                                      2. re: iluvmysh

                                        I feel the reason why Daikokuya is not mentioned much on this thread is because there is much better ramen to be had in LA in many other places right now. Daikokuya's tonkotsu broth was pretty good when it first opened, but in the past year or so the quality of their bowl has slid downhill. Drastically.

                                        You're not alone: Most of us 'Hounds are "brothy" types, when it comes to ramen.

                                        1. re: J.L.

                                          With ramen, the broth is the raison d'ĂȘtre. So yes, for "brothy types" ramen is the way to go.

                                          On the other hand, udon is all about the crafting of the noodle. The broth is more of an afterthought.

                                          Both are wonderful when executed well, though udon is far less trendy in LA nowadays.

                                          Mr Taster

                                          1. re: Mr Taster

                                            It's funny how ramen has become elevated to a culinary art form. As a Japanese American growing up in L.A., it was just a hot simple dish my mom made once in a while. My earliest memory was the instant Sapporo Ichiban ramen noodles. That was the brand all my friends and family ate. There was no other.

                                            1. re: meg3325

                                              Have you ever had the opportunity to see the film "Tampopo" by any chance?

                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                Yes, I did, many years ago. It shows that ramen isn't just a bowl of broth and noodles. It's made with the right ingredients, hard work and with love. The smallest details make the biggest difference.

                                          2. re: J.L.

                                            +2

                                            Went back to daiko after hitting up all the other ramen joints and daiko was below most (but not all). Daiko when on point is awesome...when they are not on point it's just okay. How good the bowl is probably depends on how long you have to wait.

                                        2. Being one to mostly dine not too far from home, it's either Ramen Nippon or Small Island. I'm leaning towards Small Island but the slow service usually pushes us to Ramen Nippon unless we've got the time to wait.

                                          1. I'm a big fan of Orochon Ramen (Miso #3 or #4); probably the least authentic but for me, the most tasty. I've gone through a lot of different places with my friends and they all hate Orochon, but I find their taste to be too greasy for me. Santouka is 2nd, it's a couple blocks from my house and even though it's not as spicy as I like, it tastes pretty good.

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: ThaFlash_LA

                                              Ramen in LA has come a long way in the past 2 years. I lived in Japan and visited often eating my fare share of ramen, traveling to ramen museums, etc. I have eaten at every place mentioned in this thread. There is only one place in the US that I would consider good by Japan standards, and that is Tsujita for both tsukumen and tonkotsu, both are amazing, after that everything is a significant tier down.

                                              People should also be on the look out for the mitsuwa food fares. They often have famous ramen shops from japan who serve up their ramen in the market for a few days at a time maybe 2 to 3 times a year. Some of these are truly amazing. Ippudo was there, and it was interesting because it tasted just how I remember it in Japan (delicious) while in NYC it tasted nothing like I remember, unfortunately for the worse.

                                              I do like Mottainai's Miso, its solid and I eat it often I would say they are the second best joint if i had to rank.

                                              Horon is pretty good too. I liked the tan tan men at chin mai ya in gardena but unfortunately they just closed. Fujin is in this group too. Ikemen is fairly tasty as well, all they need is a place to park. I'll give Yamada credit for their broth, its gotten much better. For me though, all these places in are a very distant second. Tsujita is authentic, and the real deal. Also, beware of anyone that suggests a ramen that has MSG, that is a sure sign they have no clue what they are talking about.

                                              1. re: notjeff

                                                "Also, beware of anyone that suggests a ramen that has MSG, that is a sure sign they have no clue what they are talking about."

                                                I think not: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyl...

                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                  It's a good read.

                                                  Ok so anyone that tells you that Ajinomoto/ added to ramen as a flavoring agent has no clue. I can promise you that any of those joints in the ramen museum in yokohama where i have gone many times dont use that as a way of flavoring their soup, they would never do well in japan.

                                                  "What does chiefly animate Japanese soups and broths is an amino acid called glutamate. In the best ramen shops it's made naturally from boiling dried kombu seaweed; it can also come from dried shrimp or bonito flakes, or from fermented soy. More cheaply and easily, you get it from a tin, where it is stabilised with ordinary salt and is thus monosodium glutamate."

                                                  1. re: notjeff

                                                    Glumates, naturally occurring or man made, are one reason that Japanese food, ramen included, tastes the way it does. Ajinomoto is a chemical the same way water is a chemical (water, after all, is 2 Hydrogen atoms and 1 Oxygen atom).

                                                    1. re: notjeff

                                                      I've been to the ramen museum in Yokohama and I'm a bit confused by your holding that up as the ne plus ultra of ramen. It's a fun place to visit (in the same way that Disneyland is fun to visit) and interesting in that you can taste many different styles of ramen in one place. Which sounds remarkable, until you remember that we're talking about food crazy Japan, and that even a local train station is likely to have a section of ramen restaurants representing several different styles in one place. You don't have to go to Yokohama to experience this.

                                                      I'm wondering why Santouku doesn't make your list?

                                                      Mr Taster

                                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                                        Servorg,

                                                        the best way i can respond to you IMO is that MSG is like a steroid version of the naturally occurring MSG when you cook down kombu and bonito to make a broth, or eat a piece of ham, thats a big difference, and its one I think you can taste, and sense in your mouth. For me, it means your not taking the time to create flavor the right way. In japan, you will never see a famous place sprinkle ajinomoto in their broth ever. If you think japanese food tastes the way it does because of ajinomoto I have to seriously question that.

                                                        Mr Taster

                                                        I assume Japanese dont go to the museum for the disney atmosphere, i certainly didnt! Yokohama ramen musuem is the first place in japan as far as i know that had the idea to invite the best shops from around the country to come and set up shop in their space for a few months. It changes constantly, and i think its age gives it clout. People were waiting for 2 or more hours to sample shop A's ramen from some place far away. The comparison to a local train station or even an area like takadanobaba is not completely accurate because there are only so many top places at one time even in japan (ie the top 100 every year.) However I will say that many stations began to set up similar concepts where they would invite a bunch of ramen shops as well, so it is no longer a novel idea. But they always had top top quality ramen there. I used to go and eat 3 different minis. If you love ramen, that is heaven.

                                                        3 years ago Santoka would be #1 on my LA list and my NJ/NYC list. For the US they are pretty good, and I will give that special chashu credit, its excellent. I also like their kimchi ramen. Maybe i have just eaten it for so long, I guess I should include them. . Funny thing is some are better then others, i have had it in SD, NJ, Venice, Torrence, Costa Mesa. Costa Mesa is the best one for some reason. Their decent, but I think LA has just caught up.

                                                        If you would ask me

                                              2. Santouka, order with less salt. Simple and sort of comforting.

                                                Tsujita, as close to a Tokyo ramen shop you'll find in LA. Tsukemen is pretty good here.

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: andrew_eats

                                                  You can order it with less salt?! This might be a relevation for me... Which ones can you order less salty?

                                                  --Dommy!

                                                  1. re: Dommy

                                                    I agree, how do you order with less salt if the broths are simmered for a long period of time in advance?

                                                    1. re: Porthos

                                                      they don't include that salty red thing? haha!

                                                  2. re: andrew_eats

                                                    Good news to me too. Can you do that at any location?

                                                    1. re: jblee

                                                      For Santouka? Yes. Cause they add extra salt to your shio ramen as standard.

                                                  3. For Santouka? Yes. Cause they add extra salt to your shio ramen as standard.

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: andrew_eats

                                                      Still trying to figure out why you would order salt ramen and ask for less salt?!?

                                                      1. re: andrew_eats

                                                        Are you saying they add extra salt to your bowl after ladling out the shio broth? I would assume the shio broth is already at the desired level of saltiness. Does that mean they add extra miso to their miso broth or extra shoyu to their shoyu broth? I always assumed it was 3 separate broths...

                                                        1. re: Porthos

                                                          The shio soup stock comes standard saltiness, then they add more salt after its done. It's supposed to be some type of special salt from Japan.

                                                          I'm not sure about the Miso or Shoyu soup.

                                                          I was at the Vancouver location opening recently, and one of the corporate chefs came from Hokkaido to oversee everything. So he explained to me what they do.

                                                        2. re: andrew_eats

                                                          Ah... will try to ask for it next time, I would usually get the shio with the special pork...

                                                          Anyway, the BEST thing for me there is during the summer months when do they do cold ramen. Just ramen noodles and special pork. So delicious...

                                                          --Dommy!