Ramen Hayatemaru on the Westside
[Full-size photos, with captions, at http://theoffalo.com/2013/03/ramen-ha...]
I've heard very good things about Ramen Hayatemaru in Torrance and have been trying to get to their new West L.A. location for a few weeks now (since they've only been open for a few weeks). They're at the corner of Olympic and Barrington, where Waraya used to be.
I finally went tonight with my younger daughter. We were the only ones in there at ~6:30 PM. The interior did not look new, so apparently no major remodeling was done before opening and the place probably looks close to what Waraya looked like before (I presume, having never been to Waraya). Everything was clean, but I did take notice of the aging and stained drop ceiling with a rusty metal air vent hanging down, and the somewhat haphazard looking bathroom.
I've never been to the Torrance one and I'm no ramen connoiseur, but I generally like the shio at Santouka (my favorite ramen place) over their shoyu or miso, and I've gathered that Santouka's shio is tonkotsu-esque, so I ordered the "Hokkaido ramen" which I figured was close to either shio or tonkotsu at Hayatemaru.
I probably still like Santouka's shio better, but I did enjoy the Hokkaido ramen. The noodles were cut relatively short and were easy to eat with the large spoon provided. I didn't get any add-ons, so the ramen had just two slices of chashu and the ajitsuke tamago was cooked through. Does anyone know if that's standard for the ajitama that's included with the ramen but if ordered as an add-on would be more hanjuku?
My daughter wanted "potstickers" so I ordered gyoza for her. Those were very good, mostly due to the skin, which were very thin. They allowed the gyoza to really crisp up. The filling didn't have too much of what I thing of as "empty" filler like cabbage, just pork and asatsuki from what I could tell, which was good, but was a little compact. The slightly spicy miso dipping sause was very good.
I would definitely go back again, especially since it's a little more convenient than going to Santouka. I may order the tsukemen next time just to see how it compares to Tsujita. Or maybe I'll try the white or red miso, since I've read that "real" Hokkaido ramen is usually miso-based.
11678 West Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
yeah, no.. i'm just not feeling it for this place. the broth lacks flavor, the pork is too lean and hard and has an unpleasant texture, the egg is cooked completely hard. i do like the thicker, chewier noodles, but that's not enough to overcome the other major shortcomings. their gyoza is pretty good, but unlike you, i didn't care for the miso dipping sauce, which i found oddly sweet (reminded me of thai sweet chili sauce) and didn't find it complementing the gyoza at all.
the jjigae ramen was a joke and should not be called that.
The default egg (for the ramen dishes that come with egg) is hard-boiled but you can sub the medium-boiled egg for free. The chashu was leaner and drier on my earlier visits but much better on more recent visits.
I actually don't use the gyoza sauce generally anyway, opting for straight shoyu, but the first time I had it (as reviewed above) it wasn't overly sweet to me.
I guess we'll have to just disagree on the broth lacking flavor. I found it to be pretty flavorful. Luckily there is a glut of ramen places to choose from on the Westside.
(I don't know enough about ramen to know if "jjigae ramen" is a variety that is served in Japan the way Hayatemaru serves it, and is intentional and "authentic" in that way, rather than trying to duplicate real Korean jjigae flavors.)
If anyone is looking for a cheap, delicious, late-night meal, Hayatemaru is celebrating the 1 year anniversary of the opening of their mothership in Torrance with $5 regular size bowls of the Hokkaido (shio) ramen and the white miso ramen (regularly $7.50)... AND they're open until 1 AM.
So I tried a few of the other noodle dishes besides the Hokkaido (reviewed above) and the white miso (reviewed here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/896285), including the shoyu tsukemen, and the jjigae and red miso ramen. Here's a quick recap of each...
Shoyu Tsukemen: I didn't like it much. The noodles are really thick and looked like the dough was blended with buckwheat, neither of which are negatives per se, just not what I'm used to, but that wasn't the issue. The problem was that the shoyu broth was so dark and bitter that it was unpleasant to eat. It almost had a coffee or chocolate taste, like a mole, but not in a good way. If you're in the mood for tsukemen, definitely go to Tsujita instead.
Jjigae Ramen: Not bad at all, with decent spiciness, and some different toppings with the small shrimp that you eat shell and all. However, despite the name, it did not have much of a Korean flavor to it. I'd get it again, but I'd probably try the spicy miso first.
Red Miso Ramen: I ordered this mistakenly thinking it was the spicy miso ramen. It's not; there is a separate spicy miso ramen on the menu. I really enjoyed the red miso. It kind of had a bold, nutty flavor. I liked the deep-fried tofu topping too. Probably my second favorite after the Hokkaido.
One thing I do like about Hayatemaru is that all of the ramen have slightly different toppings. The Hokkaido does not have any ground meat, but the miso ones do. The white miso has bean sprouts, but the red does not. Et cetera.
[More experiments with captioned photos for a better reading/viewing experience...]