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Apr 5, 2012 11:07 PM

LA's Best Ramen?

So I have a friend coming to town and wants to see what the city offers in regards to Ramen. She's lived in Vancouver and Japan so it's not like I could put anything past her...

Any suggestions?

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  1. Controversial topic here in L.A., but I'll bite...

    My current picks:
    Mottainai - Flavor bombs, Sapporo style
    Tsujita LA - Tsukemen, Tokyo style
    Santouka - Get the #7 special kotteri broth
    Yamadaya - Kakuni ramen
    Miyata Menji - Unorthodox Italian-esque tsukemen

    Since your friend has lived in Japan, skip Daikokuya, Asahi

    (bracing for the firestorm which is about to erupt on this thread...)

    33 Replies
    1. re: J.L.

      I've gone to Tokyo and Yokohama several times and agree about skipping Daikokuya for ramen. The quality of their ramen does not justify the crowds.

      1. re: Ernie

        Those two places were among the few ramen joints around LA that were some of the better places long ago. I think part of the reason so many still go is because those of the previous ramen-dining generation still rec and go to those places. It's telling how much better the local ramen scene is now...

        I have been staying away from ramen for a while, but I'd pick Mottainai (Sapporo is memorable), Santouka and Yamadaya as my top three.

        1. re: bulavinaka

          those are my top 3, though tsujita is good too but i don't like waiting a long time for it.

          5 years ago, out of those 4, only santouka existed and the top 3 was probably something like santouka/shinsengumi/daikokuya. and santouka is a chain found in vancouver and japan as well.

          mottainai: sapporo + white bomb
          tsujia: ramen (chashu if you like meat)
          santouka: shio (chashu if you like meat)
          yamadaya: all-stars

            1. re: wienermobile

              All this ramen talk got me out of my ramen funk and I'm glad it did. We went to Mottainai and I had the kogashi miso ramen again with garlic bomb - yup, it's the best bowl I've had in LA...

              Their spinach with black sesame paste is pretty awesome as well...

              1. re: wienermobile

                > ttp://

                404 Not Found

                . . . even after adding the missing 'h' in 'http'.

                  1. re: Servorg

                    Ah, thanks, generic link. Thought it might have been a link to _which_ of Mottainairamen's ramens wienermobile was particularly happy with.

        2. re: J.L.

          That is pretty much my top three. Although I would put Tsujita as #1 because I prefer the broth and noodle texture. I haven't made it too Menji yet

          1. re: AAQjr

            Thanks for all of the suggestions! I'll definitely look smarter than I am. I plan on trying all of these, albeit not all w/ the friend.

            Has anyone heard anything about Ikemen yet?

            1. re: mlreneau

              parking sucks, but i liked the tomato basil tsukemen.

                1. re: mlreneau

                  I would hit up daikokuya everyday before going back to ikemen.

              1. re: J.L.

                What about Orochon? Just good if you want to go after the spicy challenge ?

                1. re: kevin

                  Orochon is pretty much never mentioned except for the spicy challenge.

                  1. re: kevin

                    Orochon was pretty good a few years back but has declined. Mme. Akitist says the broth tastes "chemically".

                    1. re: Akitist

                      Went with some folks who wanted to do the challenge today (they failed). I had no-spicy. Agree the broth was chemical flavored but the noodles were tasty nonetheless.

                  2. re: J.L.

                    Enjoyed the tsukumen at Miyata Menji immensely.

                    1. re: J.L.

                      Eh, the people who shit on Daikokuya usually prove to just be scenester snobs jumping on the backlashwagon. In a blind taste test Daikokuya will stand AT LEAST even (and imo, considerably above) an otherwise passable broth by Santouka. People just hate it because of the lines (or worse, just because it's too well known). The smokier deeper broth, included egg, and their meat far surpasses the chewy stuff at the Santouka. And since it's way closer to me, I'm usually more then fine with shopping around for 30 mins while waiting for a table. And bonus points for not having to eat it in a shitty food court.

                      1. re: ThomasLC

                        Welcome to Chowhound, ThomasLC.

                        I don't mind waiting for food, as long as it's worthy of the wait. And I could care less where I eat said good food once I get it (if I didn't like food courts, a great portion of the glorious food mecca of Singapore wouldn't be possible for me to experience).

                        I love JTown. I spend quite a bit of time there. Little Tokyo deserves a truly great ramen-ya. I want to like Daikokuya so badly, which is why I go back every now and then to try it. Daikokuya started strong when it first opened. Having said that, the "smokier deeper broth" you alluded to just hasn't been my experience at Daikokuya in the past 2+ years, despite waits of over 45-75 minutes. Sadly, far from it.

                        1. re: J.L.

                          I've said it before, and I'll say it again, until it echoes throughout the Great Halls of Chowhound for all time.

                          The secret to minimizing the wait (and cost) at Daikokuya is to put your name on the list and then go 'round the corner to Tokyo Cafe and get a plate or two of their wonderful homemade gyoza.

                          They're cheaper (and more generously portioned) than what Daikokuya serves. By the time you're done enjoying your appetizer, your name will be up for the main course. Just be forewarned that they do not stay open late.

                          Mr Taster

                          1. re: Mr Taster

                            Or go to any of their other branches.

                            1. re: TonyC

                              ...and forego the spectacular homemade gyoza at Tokyo Cafe? Never!

                              Mr Taster

                        2. re: ThomasLC

                          Ramen in Los Angeles has thankfully moved way beyond Daikokuya v. Santouka arguments.

                          1. re: AAQjr

                            It seems like there have been a dozen joints that have opened up in the interim period since Daikoyuya and Santouka opened up shoppe.

                            Does most hounds think Orochon is terrible ? or at least not very good?

                            1. re: kevin

                              Pretty sure the only reason you go to Orocon is to eat the giant bowl and try to put your face on the wall.

                              they also opened up an orochon in downtown burbank (empty as hell last time I walked by)

                              1. re: ns1

                                Even for the fame of being on the wall it's not that special since many people can actually complete it and they will take it off the wall once they get more new ones.

                              2. re: kevin

                                and if you add enough spicy level, it's a great/cheap/fast way to do a colon cleanse.

                                probably 1 of the worst bowls of ramen in LA?

                                1. re: TonyC

                                  Is that a nomination for best tasting colon cleanse?

                              3. re: AAQjr

                                Funny you should say this. I still remember when Santouka first arrived on the westside, replacing (if memory serves, a Tampopo, which was not very good). I know the Torrance location was already around then (this ~2006) but the addition of Santouka on the Westside was kind of a big deal because the Sawtelle scene, at the time, was really middling.

                                And boom, six years later and it's kind of nuts. I feel like the number of ramen boutiques has doubled in just the last couple of years.

                            2. re: J.L.

                              Just had both the tsukemen and tonkotsu ramen at Tsujita.

                              That tsukemen is really something special. I could eat double portions of that all day. The egg is also delicious.

                              While I liked the tonkotsu broth at Tsujita (delicious rich pure pork broth, doesn't taste like they use any chicken) I found the noodles too thin and too soft for my tastes.

                              I hope we get a Tsujita down here in OC. Craving that tsukemen already.

                              1. re: Porthos

                                Yeah, it is rather killer, Porthos.

                            3. My favorite right now is Tsujita.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: A5 KOBE

                                We talkin' ramen or tsukemen? Cuz they're different birds.

                                1. re: J.L.

                                  Tsukemen for me. I always thought tsukemen was just the way you eat it. : /

                                  1. re: A5 KOBE

                                    Some will find that to be fighting words ... LOL.

                              2. just had the tonkotsu black at jinya yesterday and was impressed. you have to ask for the crushed garlic but when you add it, the broth just came alive. i'd still put it behind yamadaya but a solid bowl.

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: cdub

                                  I had the Tonkotsu Red on Monday at Jinya (sawtelle), I use horrible to describe it. Can anyone tell me what is the best ramen from Jinya that deserves to try?

                                  1. re: LAmaggie

                                    If I want a chicken based ramen that's where I would definitely go for, add in their wontons too which are kneaded to have a very dense meaty texture.

                                    1. re: LAmaggie

                                      I personally prefer their chicken based ramen, and their chicken wonton ramen is awesome.

                                      Studio City only, have not been to Sawtelle so can't comment there.

                                      1. re: ns1

                                        They have the chicken ramen at the Miracle Mile location as well. It's delicious there too. In 2007 on my honeymoon in Kyoto, Japan my wife and I had an awesomely rich ramen topped with (why not?) fried chicken. I'm still looking for that here. Here's my original write up on the place, called KARAKO.


                                        Mr Taster

                                        1. re: Mr Taster

                                          IMHO the chicken wontons > the chicken chashu

                                          1. re: Mr Taster

                                            Kosuke in Alhambra tops their ramen with fried chicken although the quality of their broth is somewhere along the lines of Ton Chan ramen not amazing but good enough for this area.

                                        2. re: LAmaggie

                                          i've only eaten at jinay in studio city. having said that. i've had a very good bowl of ramen at jinya and avg ones as well. however, when it's on, it's as good as some of the best in the city. tonkotsu black is my recommendation. ask for the garlic.

                                          1. re: LAmaggie

                                            Probably stick to their basic shio one. I think the red/black versions are excessive. Just get fresh garlic on the side if you want more of a kick. And maybe you need to visit the Studio City one for the optimal Jinya experience (I myself haven't made it to the Sawtelle one yet)...

                                        3. For me Tsujita is worth going alone for their perfect chashu and tsukemen. Although I like Yamadaya it is a fat bomb and artery clogging experience which is not what I want all the time. Jinya is also a worth place as their chicken ramen surprised me with the depth of the broth.

                                          1. jidaiya is not too shabby. i'd put it in the same category as mottainai, jinya, and yamadaya.

                                            20 Replies
                                            1. re: raizans

                                              What type of ramen do they serve? I just read about it opening recently but not sure if its worth the trip from the SGV.

                                              1. re: Johnny L

                                                they have shoyu and several variations of tonkotsu. if you'll drive for any of the above, this one is also worth the trip.

                                                1. re: raizans

                                                  Well I guess this will be an excuse to shop at the Torrance Mitsuwa then.

                                              2. re: raizans

                                                tried it last saturday, pretty good. the tonkotsu shio was much lighter than mottainai and yamadaya. it was more in line with zenya but with more flavor than zenya.

                                                ufo gyoza (hane gyoza) was excellent, delicious when hot but if it gets cold it tastes terrible.

                                                they also have chicken broth ramen. might give that a try next.

                                                1. re: raizans

                                                  I much prefer Jidaiya's karamiso tonkotsu over Jinya/Tsujita/Yamada-Ya, etc. Big fan of Jidaiya, especially because it is by the Torihei folks, who aren't out to out expand starbucks ala Yamada-ya.

                                                  That's my Southbay ramen fave right now, and it's hellaciously affordable.

                                                  1. re: TonyC

                                                    What kind of noodles does jidaiya serve with their ramen?

                                                    1. re: odub

                                                      Thick, non-curly, manly ones for the "Yokohatma", which I believe is proper. It hits so much harder than the thin/curly Tokyo style.

                                                  2. re: raizans

                                                    Just had Jidaiya yesterday for lunch. I agree. Subjectively it was a real "wow" experience for me. When I went, it was packed with nearly all Japanese expats and a line outside. There is a counter for solo dining. For lunch they have Yokohama Tonkotsu, Tokyo Yatai (chicken and pork broth) and Sapporo (spicy). The dinner menu includes Tan Tan Men and Tsukemen. The Yokohama has the thick noodles. I chose the Tokyo Yatai and had an extra side of chashu, which was absolutely delicious, juicy and tender. The noodles were firm, the broth tasty and the egg was perfect. The UFO gyoza was okay, just not the right crisp. Options include extra noodles for $1.50 and free garlic.

                                                    Parking is much better here than at Yamadaya and is closer to my work. Service was great. This will be a regular spot for me. I agree with Raizans: this belongs with Yamadaya and Mottainai and definitely worth a trip.

                                                    1. re: Ogawak

                                                      Wher is this place? And are Yamadaya and Mottanai nearby so that I can try all three in one lunch session?

                                                      And do any of these have chicken only broth? Without any pork in the broth ?


                                                        1. re: J.L.

                                                          Thanks JL. And a post on shunji's is forthcoming.

                                                          And I'll try that panna cotta for a lite brunch with a mug of Cappuchino there.

                                                        2. re: kevin

                                                          I guess you can try all three places in one session. Just know that both Yamadaya and Jidaiya get very crowded. The counter is your best bet for both. Mottainai is more spacious.

                                                          Yamadaya(Crenshaw) and Jidaiya (Western) are freeway close on the 405. Mottainai is in the Redondo Beach Blvd Marukai shopping complex in Gardena. Happy slurping.

                                                          That chicken/pork broth was the first I've ever had.

                                                          1. re: kevin

                                                            Christ, can you actually eat that much? I find one bowl filling enough and I don't think Yamadaya offers a half bowl.

                                                            1. re: Johnny L

                                                              My record is finishing 5 bowls in succession within 3 hours during a suicidal "tabe aruki" (food tour) a few years back.

                                                              1. re: J.L.

                                                                If that had been me it would have been a "tabe miyuki" tour ;-D>

                                                                1. re: J.L.

                                                                  I'm a big eater and I bow to you. Two bowls would put me in the coffin.

                                                              2. re: kevin

                                                                Yamadaya Costa Mesa just added a "Premium" Shio Ramen. The broth is made with chicken and dried fish. Just had it for lunch now. It's a much lighter, clear broth. It's got a little nice briny salty taste from the fish and it's flavorful without being heavy like the tonkotsu. Served with poached spinach, and egg. You can order it with or without chashu. I of course added the Yamadaya toppings on the side. Defintely a nice addition for those that want ramen but not necessarily the uber rich tonkotsu.

                                                              3. re: Ogawak

                                                                Just had jidaiya. Had the Yokohama shio tonkotsu. Clean broth. Well flavored. Definitely cheaper than yamadaya. However, yamadaya has much more depth of flavor to me. As a matter if fact, had the jinya tonkotsu black last week and thought it was better than jidaiya too. Just my personal preference.

                                                                1. re: cdub

                                                                  shio tonkotsu is lighter than straight up tonkotsu, so that makes sense.

                                                                  1. re: cdub

                                                                    Me too, I prefer Yamadaya over Jidaiya. Personal preference.