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May 25, 2006 07:04 PM

Ramen does Mama Ramen stack up?

  • p

Ramen experts (Rickmond's input would be greatly appreciated), planning on doing my q2month LA trip in 2 weeks and would make this a ramen trip.

I got a tip that Mama ramen is stellar but a search on the boards revealed shin-sen-gumi, daikokuya, and santoka as top ramen houses. If you had to rank them in 1,2,3 fashion, how would you set the rankings? Does Mama even come close to the board favorites? Thanks much.

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  1. For a brief time, not so long ago, MaMa Ramen served what had to be the best miso (and chashu) ramen in L.A. Then there was a change in ownership last year, and it went downhill from there...

    It's not that MaMa is particularly bad now, but Santouka just blows the doors off the place.


    1 Reply
    1. re: Joe B.

      haha really? didn't know their miso ramen was so highly regarded but i'll definitely concur with your point about santouka.

    2. this place is actually a little hidden treasure that i've never written on. gotta save something for my website =P. actually another reason is that whenever i'm in the south bay i usually get lured to santouka. though not the best, shin-mama ramen is better than most, and they do a special rotating "feature" ramen or two (every month or so it changes) that is in a particular regional style with a limited number of bowls per day. recently they had "kumamoto ramen" versus "nagasaki champon" limited to 50 bowls per day or something like that.

      if it's still going on: kumamoto ramen is a tonkotsu broth (similar to daikokuya or SSG) with slivers of fried garlic and black pepper, while nagasaki champon is topped with assorted seafood and has a more chinese influence in terms of preparation and taste.

      in the past i've also had something called "hiroshima onomichi ramen" there, which is pretty distinct with a chicken and fish based stock and abura (well, diced fat, for lack of a better word) sprinkled throughout.

      if i were to rank them:

      1. santouka - by a mile

      2. orochon - better "standards" - shio, shoyu, and miso than anywhere else in town

      3. hakata shin sen gumi (gardena) - as close as you'll get to real hakata ramen in L.A., although if i was in japan i wouldn't eat there

      4. ikkyu "It's Q" ramen (hacienda heights) - decent tonkotsu broth made uncommonly good with the addition of yuzu kosho in the "yuzukosho ramen", just throw out the piece of bok choy

      5. shin mama - yup if i had a choice i'd rather chow here than daikokuya, MOST of the time

      6. daikokuya - thick and flavorful shoyu-tonkotsu broth that is near where i live, but i'm not keen on the kind of noodles they pair with the soup, STELLAR Gyoza tho...

      etc. etc.

      one of these days i'll post my "official" rameniac rankings ;)

      7 Replies
      1. re: rickmond

        Is Shin-mama the same as Mama? Who has better tonkatsu broth? The milky white stewed from pork bones type.

        1. re: Porthos

          shin-mama is the place i always think of when i think of mama ramen. in the huge shopping plaza on crenshaw near PCH. there may in fact be an older "mama" ramen as "shin-mama" merely means "new mama" but i can't confirm this. i seem to recall another ramen shop in the area (on carson i think?) that MAY have been named mama ramen but i can't remember. that place was thoroughly mediocre but when i ate there it was 4 years ago.

          fyi it's tonkotsu not tonkatsu. tonkatsu is the breaded pork cutlet - which is a whole different animal. well, same animal, but you know what i mean =P.

          1. re: rickmond

            Hahaha. I stand corrected. Who has the best tonkotsu broth in 1,2,3 fashion?

            1. re: Porthos

              if you wanna go strictly by the tonkotsu broth, i'd say:

              1. santouka - their "shio" ramen is actually a shio (salt) + tonkotsu soup. the uncontested champion, full of flavor, rich, and oily as an exxon spill (the oil keeps the soup crazy hot)

              2. daikokuya - a shoyu (soy sauce) + tonkotsu soup that is rich, thick and has a certain kind of musky flavor to it. some hounds recommend ordering it "kotteri" style, which means "extra rich & fatty," but common sense usually prevents me from doing so.

              3. hakata shin sen gumi - traditional "nagahama tonkotsu" style - smooth pork bone soup that is a regional specialty and a bit white in color. you can also adjust the flavor and richness to your liking (i.e. strong, etc.) i rate this place higher than daikokuya overall because it uses authentic "al dente" noodles that go better with the broth imho.

              (honorable mention)

              ikkyu ramen - a decent tonkotsu soup, but pop that yuzukosho in there and it's flavor city.

              1. re: rickmond

                couple rumor questions:
                santouka is by far my favorite as well. someone told me that the soup base is frozen and sent over from japan. any validity to this claim?

                another note: last time i was at daikokuya (about a week ago) i saw them pouring what looked like milk into the broth. my fried was saying that sullungtang restaurants do this in korea to fake that long cooked bone milky aesthetic. i was wondering if it could also be some kind of thickening agent.

                1. re: modernist

                  don't know about santouka freezing the soup, but whatever the case the end result is pretty on the level with what you might find in the ramen motherland. i'm not complaining.

                  actually some ramen shops DO use stuff to accentuate the milky pork bone-ness. if they do, it's probably a chinese soup/stock-thingy called paitan.

        2. re: rickmond

          Oh my goodness the gyoza at Daikokuya are SO good.

        3. I go to Mama Ramen every now and then since I live so close by. It's really a great "go back" place. Recently, I had a new special there called "onomichi" (I THINK) ramen. I thought it was great and have already gone back again to order it for fear the special would be over soon. Anyone else try this new dish?

          2 Replies
          1. re: mstinawu

            I am happy to report that they've added the onomichi ramen to their regular menu! =D

            1. re: mstinawu

              the onomichi ramen is great! best thing about shin-mama i think, and relatively unknown here on the boards. now that it's on the regular menu, it's time to get the word out ;).

          2. hmm....

            where is santoka?
            in j-town?

            i've been to a ramen place there on 2nd bet. central san pedro....
            that place was soooo bad!

            if you really really some good ramen go to the oc.
            there is a market there by the name of mitsua... or something like that....???
            there is ramen noodle place in the food court.....
            i guarantee that it will be out of this world!!!!

            2 Replies
            1. re: livnihs05


              Does it look like this place?

              . . . .

              That would be the Santouka located in, you guessed it, the Costa Mesa Mitsuwa food court.


              1. re: livnihs05

                Santouka is also located in both the Mar Vista Mitsuwa market and the Torrance Mitsuwa market.