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Traditional (non-tonkatsu) Shoyumen?

I have just moved back to Pasadena after 7 years and am looking for a great ramen shop. I have read through the forums and seen the recommendations of shops on the west side and some in SGV, but it seems as though they all specialize in tonkatsu (gravy-style) ramen. I am not a big fan and prefer the almost clear, more traditional shoyumen. I used to go to Ramenya on Olympic however, a recent trip told me that their broth is either not as great as I remembered or my recent trips to Japan have changed my point of reference.

Any suggestions for a good bowl of traditional shoyumen or chashumen? I'm willing to drive anywhere in LA but would prefer SGV recs.

Thank you!

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  1. I am really loving the shoyu broth these days at Yamadaya Costa Mesa. It's very flavorful, clear, and not heavy like all the tonkotsu ramen broths out there. You might want to check if the Westwood and Culver City Yamadayas are doing the shoyu broths there. They also have a great clear shio broth.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Porthos

      culver city is doing the chicken and fish broth have no clue what the japanese name for it is though.

      And it was pretty good and not too heavy. paired it with a spicey tuna bowl (not so good) and the karage, which was perfectly fried textbook, the only thing that would have made those better is if they were oyster karage.

      1. re: kevin

        That's their "premium shio broth".

        Yamadaya's karaage, fried rice, and chasu bowls are also excellent.

    2. What is or is not traditional depends on region. Tonkotsu (not tonkatsu, that's a breaded pork cutlet) ramen is traditional in northern Kyushu. What you're asking for is Tokyo-style ramen.

      I don't know of any good non-tonkotsu ramen shops in the SGV. I had a really good shoyu ramen when Tsujita set up shop in Mitsuwa a few weeks ago for the Umaimono Gourmet Fair, but the West LA branch doesn't have it on their menu. I haven't had the premium shio at Yamadaya yet, but someone I know did, and said it was very good. Mottainai might have something like what you're looking for as well.

      Yamadaya's karaage is good until you try the karaage at Izakaya (or is it once again Yakitori?) Bincho. I actually prefer it to most of Tomo-san's yakitori offerings. Yamadaya's takoyaki is okay, but too heavy on the ginger when I tried it (but I despise ginger, so YMMV).

      19 Replies
      1. re: mrhooks

        Took a girl from Fukuoka to Yamadaya last night who proclaimed the broth too light and not porky enough! Can't wait (but also a bit scared) to try the tonkotsu in Fukuoka.

        1. re: Porthos

          Which Yamadaya? The tonkotsu at the Costa Mesa branch, though good, seemed noticeably lighter to me than that of the Torrance branch.

          In my very limited experience, I don't think tonkotsu in Fukuoka will necessarily be any thicker or heavier in consistency than Yamadaya's tonkotsu, just more flavorful. In fact, its consistency might seem slightly _less_ like "I can see this broth congealing before my very eyes" than Yamadaya's, despite having more flavor.

          1. re: mrhooks

            on the other hand i think comparing an entire prefecture (fukuoka) to one chain (yamadaya) is a bit premature...

            1. re: kainzero

              Maybe you need to read what I wrote again:

              "I don't think tonkotsu in Fukuoka necessarily will be" - as in, "it may or may not be, but it doesn't have to be";

              The point was never "this is how _all_ tonkotsu in Fukuoka compare to Yamadaya". It was "there is tonkotsu that's better and more flavorful without being quite as heavy". Anything else you inferred was neither written nor implied by me.

              1. re: mrhooks

                Yeah, my bad, I came off a little harsh.

                I just meant to say (to Porthos no less) that there is a lot of variation itself in Fukuoka, so there's nothing to be scared of.

                Personally I thought Yamadaya's kotteri was much richer (thickness-wise and flavor-wise) than the one yatai I ate at in Fukuoka as well as the Ichiran in Cancal City. But that's a sample size of 2 and I only went once.

          2. re: Porthos

            their broth is inconsistent, at Yamadaya. Sometimes it is extremely porky.

            1. re: epop

              Been to Yamadaya Torrance greater than 2 dozen times (so much so that they recognized me at the Westwood branch) and Yamadaya Costa Mesa close to a dozen times now. The two are pretty close even taking into account the variations. It's the egg I wish was more consistent and softer in the middle.

              I think my friend was referring to the fact that there is some chicken used in making the Yamadaya broth (which is correct if I correcty recall ramieniac's initial report) and that the recipe she uses is all pork. Pork head to be exact.

              Tried to go to Jinya Costa Mesa last night. Closed even though the sign clearly stated open 11am-10pm Sun-Mon. Better luck next time I hope.

              1. re: Porthos

                i really liked the chicken broth at yamadaya culver city great stuff as well as those karage, but is seriously desired that they have oyster karage, that would have been beyond fucking awesome.

                1. re: kevin

                  Which ramen places are you going to that has oyster karaage?

                  1. re: Porthos

                    None, ... yeah, izakaya bincho has fried oysters but it wasn't in the style of of yamadaya.

                    1. re: kevin

                      If you're ever in the OC, Fukada has good soba and udon and good fried oysters. Batter is a bit thick but still good.

                      1. re: Porthos

                        will check it out, probably be in the oc in a couple weeks anyhow, maybe i can get out to Fukada for a light lunch and then a sushi dinner, time permitting and a mid-pm snack of the veal parm hero at pina's. and dessert at cream pan.

                        what could be better than that.

                  2. re: kevin

                    Oyster karaage = kaki furai. Kaki = oyster. Furai = "fry" in katakana or romaji. Japanese lesson over. :)

                    1. re: bulavinaka

                      Not quite right. Kara-age implies that the protein is marinated and dusted with potato starch before frying, while kaki-furai would imply being prepped in the style of katsu (egg wash and panko crusted) before frying. If I ordered oyster karaage and I received kaki furai, I'd be disappointed.

                      1. re: E Eto

                        Thanks - I've personally never heard of oyster karaage so I figured they were using the term interchangeably with "furai." Something to look forward to since I really enjoy oysters...

                        1. re: bulavinaka

                          Personally, I've never heard of it either, but I would think it would be pretty good, and something that can be made easily with frozen oysters. In most Japanese markets, there's a product called karaage no moto, which is a preseasoned starch mix with which you coat your protein with it and fry. I think a lot of bargain izakayas use this stuff, rather than make a mix/marinade from scratch. I know a lot of busy mothers use this stuff to make quick meals at home for their kids.

                          1. re: E Eto

                            Speaking of oysters, I caught your post on Hiroshima's oyster season - thoroughly enjoyed it and makes me want to return to Hiroshima just for that.

                            1. re: bulavinaka

                              dang, you will have to provide a link to your japan trip ???

                              hopefully

                              1. re: kevin

                                I was actually too busy on this trip to do much Hounding. Sad but true...