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Tsujita Annex Opens, But.....

Well, the Tsujita Annex has opened, but there's a catch. The catch is that they're operating off a somewhat different menu. No tonkatsu ramen, no Tsukemen. They want you to try their soy ramen. Explains the large crowd outside of the main store, while the Annex had available seating.

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  1. Pulling double-duty, I see.

    No wonder you need to gain weight ...

      1. re: chrishei

        Nah, I had lunch in the Olympic collection then went later to see what was happening.

      2. Shoyu ramen is the original old school flavor 古早味 of Japanese ramen (shio with animal protein broth, was the precursor brought over by Chinese immigrants to JP). But alas we live in a modern pork bone broth world (same goes for Hong Kong and Taiwan), thus not many non Japanese out there can appreciate a well done shoyu.

        3 Replies
        1. re: K K

          I haven't found a shoyu ramen I've liked as much as a shio, but maybe Tsujita's will be the first. Will have to go try it.

          1. re: PeterCC

            Boils down to personal preference. The original shoyu ramen is made with chicken stock. Classic example is Chuka Soba Inoue by Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo

            http://www.stanleyliew.com/2011/10/ja...

            You can see a tiny glimpse of it also around the 34:45 mark on the Jiro Dreams of Sushi DVD, only identifiable by the unmistakenable flower like logo on the ramen bowl, the shoyu and broth being poured into the bowls, plus a the trays of menma/bamboo shoots.

            Curious if any Southern California yakitori shops also serve the classic style shoyu ramen. Particularly those who purchase whole chickens...why waste the carcass...can make a killer stock with it, if not chicken shabu shabu with chicken soup (baitan mizutaki).

            1. re: K K

              Yamadaya does a nice clear shoyu with chicken and fish. Not sure if it's bonito or dried fish.

        2. *Crossing Fingers* Hopefully this is just at lunch, since the mothership is serving tonkotsu ramen and tsukemen, and that at dinner the annex will have the full noodle menu.

          1. There's always a catch with Tsujita.

            It is something very frustrating - and extremely fascinating - about their clear intention to NOT give the people what they want.

            It is like they are committed to teaching us something, and that commitment answers to a higher authority than the almighty dollar. I suppose it is reminiscent of Nozowa in his hey-day but in these looser times seems even more....hmmm...I really don't know what to call it....

            1 Reply
            1. re: Ciao Bob

              I would call it either "hubris" or "arrogance."

              1. re: wienermobile

                Thanks! I was trying to read the horribly compressed version on their Facebook page and I couldn't find it linked on their site. How did you find it?

                  1. re: wienermobile

                    Ah, of course I missed the "GO TO ANNEX PAGE!!!" link right in the middle. I was trying to parse the text talking about the annex and looking for a link there.

                1. re: wienermobile

                  large ramen w/ char siu + coke + tip = 20pp for ramen O_O

                  1. re: ns1

                    They have to keep up with the neighbors (cough, cough, ROC).

                    1. re: ns1

                      Blame that on all of us. Landlords can count crowds and price their space accordingly.

                  2. Went for lunch today. Less of a line than regular location, but still a 15-20 min wait around noon (although they gave out barley tea to people waiting). Note: they didn't check my "invite," although I saw people having it ready (maybe because they recognize me from all the visits to across the street).

                    Only shoyu available - miso probably won't be unveiled until after soft opening weekend. Broth very good, kind of fatty/heavy for a shoyu though. Chashu and soft-boiled egg good as expected. Noodles were very thick though, like almost udon-thick + consistency (a bit harder though - maybe closer to lo mein in appearance). Also, bigger bowl than the ramen across the street.

                    Looks like they're going to stick with shoyu + miso at this location for now...so no shio + tsukemen :/

                    1. come on! so much talking, and no one has tried it yet? i'm gonna do it tmw and report back

                      1 Reply
                      1. Went for lunch today and tried to shoyu (they still hadn't started serving miso--waitress said hopefully next week). Very very good. Probably the first shoyu that would cause me to order it over the shio ramen I usually order.

                        Of course, the shio ramen I've been having are tonkotsu-shio hybrids, and the shoyu here also has a tonkotsu base. In fact, when it was brought out, it looked like a giant bowl of gravy, complete with sprinkles of cracked black pepper.

                        Broth was delicious on its own but takes on totally different flavor profiles with the addition of the onikasu (house-made "red spice"--dried chiles of some kind) and ninniku (garlic, raw and chopped). I put a little of each at first, but heaped it on later.

                        No menma (preserved bamboo shoots) for vegetation, moyashi (bean sprouts) instead. The photos on the menu (http://tsujita-la.com/annex.html) shows additional vegetation (looks like napa cabbage) but I didn't get much of it, or it was lost in the sprouts.

                        Anyway, don't want to turn this into a full-blown review so I'll quickly recap:

                        * Thick-ish, al dente noodles.
                        * Thick, fatty, broth (very kotteri--sounds like a band name, or a former SNL actress). Believe it or not, additional back fat can be added to the broth for free (it's on the menu).
                        * Thick, golden yolk in the hanjuku egg (though outer edges of yolk were more fully cooked),
                        * Thick, tender slices of chashu, much moister than one might assume from the photos on the menu.

                        Thick. Good. Will go back.

                         
                         
                         
                        22 Replies
                        1. re: PeterCC

                          thanks for the review. any wait?

                          1. re: PeterCC

                            Almost no wait, but I was solo. As I was eating I could see a few people waiting outside at any given time, and as I left (1:30 PM or so), there was maybe a dozen waiting.

                            I didn't see a huge line at Tsujita mothership across the way either when arriving or leaving either. Maybe just a relatively "slow" (if slow meant packed inside but without a line outside) day.

                            1. re: PeterCC

                              Whew ... thank goodness about that egg. I see runny yolks! Whew.

                                1. re: PeterCC

                                  Yeah, it's like salmon at a steakhouse. Why even bother showing the inside Peter?

                                  1. re: Porthos

                                    This is getting too meta for me.

                                    1. re: Porthos

                                      Well, I'd go to Luger just for the lamb chops.

                                      Do you still like me?

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        As long as you and your friends don't laugh at me for asking for jian jiao at 101 Noodle Express.

                                        1. re: Porthos

                                          Is there even a "go to" dish at 101 NE?

                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            I hear the eggplant and meat over rice is pretty good.

                                            Btw, salmon at a steakhouse wasn't my analogy for egg in ramen.

                                            I have no problems with you getting lamb at Luger. And if you want the steaks well done and ask the waiters for their steak sauce to put on your steak, that's okay too.

                                            1. re: Porthos

                                              Steak sauce??

                                              Ketchup, my man. Ketchup!

                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                Not even sure they have that at Luger...

                                                1. re: Porthos

                                                  Bet it would go well with the lamb chops.

                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                    I know it's hard to believe but I haven't had a chance to try either in my dozen or so visits. Maybe next time.

                                                    1. re: Porthos

                                                      What do you usually get?

                                                      I'm happy with the burger (no cheese) and a side of bacon.

                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                        Steak for x, medium rare.
                                                        German style potatoes
                                                        Creamed spinach
                                                        +/- bacon appetizer
                                                        +/- cheesecake +/- mit schlag

                                                        I'm told by my culinary doppelgänger that the cote de bouef at Minetta Tavern rivals PL. That the burger is even superior.

                                                        1. re: Porthos

                                                          relatives have told me the cote de bouef at minetta is superior to lugers.

                                                          1. re: Porthos

                                                            Actually not a fan of the Minetta burger myself.

                                                            I like Spotted Pig and the very underrated Heidi's House (UES)

                                                    2. re: ipsedixit

                                                      Good luck asking for ketchup at FO...

                                                      1. re: J.L.

                                                        BYOK. BYOK all the way.

                                                        That's what I do at Urasawa too ...

                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                          Ah, another successful thread derailment. At least Ipse is bringing it back to Japanese food.

                                    2. Another review, by our own chrishei. Like the factoids that he researched. I'm posting because he doesn't generally post/link to his own stuff.

                                      http://oheithere.wordpress.com/2013/0...

                                      1. Yesterday I tried the ramen at the Tsujita Annex.

                                        As others have noted, it is different than the Ramen at the original Tsujita across the street. But, in this case, different isn't a bad thing.

                                        Broth:

                                        The broth is excellent. Thick, rich, and lip-smackingly delicious. Though slightly different, I found it just as good as the original tonkotsu broth accross the street.

                                        Noodle:

                                        The noodles are thick....very thick. I think they are even thicker than the noodles they use in the tsukemen at the original location. This is by far the biggest difference when comparing the new Shoyu ramen to the original tonkotsu. I think the noodle will be the make it or break it for many people.

                                        But i enjoyed the noodle. They were well cooked, and had a good chew. I think I prefer the more traditional skinny noodles (i feel the thick noodles make a more sense in a tsukemen), but this was a nice change of pace and made for an enjoyable ramen.

                                        Be warned, though, that these thick noodles are filling!

                                        Char siu

                                        The pork was delicious. A generous portion of thickly cut, tender, juicy, and well marbled pork.....pure porky goodness.

                                        Easily the best char siu I have had in a ramen....and that includes the kakuni pork belly at Yamadaya.

                                        In fact, the char siu I had yesterday confirmed my belief that the quality of the char siu at the original Tsujita location had become a bit inconsistent lately (it's never been bad.....but inconsistent....and sometimes a tad dry)

                                        Egg:

                                        Same outstanding soft-boiled egg with the gooey, neon-orange yolk we have come to expect from Tsujita.

                                        Toppings:

                                        The toppings options are extremely limited. After the optional char siu and egg, the ramen is topped with bean sprouts.....and that is all.

                                        The bean sprouts add a welcome crunch and some freshness to balance the richness of the broth, pork and egg. They are a perfect addition to the ramen.

                                        Clearly, there is a is a reason why they chose to use bean sprouts (and only bean sprouts) as a topping....because it works, and it works extremely well.

                                        But those who love to modify their ramen with nori, green onions, menma, wood ear mushrooms. corn or any of the myriad options available at other ramen joints may be disappointed.

                                        for the record, I am a huge fan of adding extra green onions and nori to my ramen, and I often add other toppings for something a little difference. So I a was a bit nervous when I saw the limited options available at the Annex.....but I wasn't disappointed at all.

                                        Condiments:

                                        Several interesting condiment options are available for you on the counter.

                                        The most noteworthy condiments are the fresh chopped garlic and the "red" spice powder. As you would expect, both condiments complimented and enhanced the ramen perfectly.

                                        I love garlic, so that is always a welcome addition.
                                        And I found that adding some extra "red spice" about half way through helped cut through some of the richness. And one spoon of the red spice added depth, flavor and a little heat without making it overly "hot".

                                        For those of you that love your spice, you will have no problem building a fiery bowl using the "red spice".

                                        Other condiments included a black pepper grinder, soy sauce and a "ramen sauce" (similar to the "tonkotsu" and "tsukemen" sauces at the original location).

                                        Clearly, just like the toppings, the condiment options were chosen to specifically work well with the particular recipe they they are serving....and they chose wisely.

                                        However, fans of the hot-leaf mustard and/or the sesame seed grinders (I LOVE the sesame seed grinders)....may be disappointed.

                                        Conclusion:

                                        This was an excellent bowl of ramen and a welcome addition to the ramen landscape.

                                        It's at least in the same ballpark as the tonkotsu and tsukemen at the original location (for the record: I have Tsujuta's tonkotsu and tsukemen tied for the best ramens I have ever tasted).

                                        And while I, like many others, am disappointed to find that Tsujita's original ramens will not be available at dinner time, this new version they just rolled out is by far the best ramen available for dinner in West L.A.

                                        I look forward to trying the Miso ramen....and I hope that the Miso comes with skinny noddles, if for no other reason than for some additional diversity.


                                        Of course, I would love for Tsujita to eventually offer all 4 versions of their ramen at the Annex ....at least for dinner......but the small size of the annex may make this impossible. As it is organized right now, the capacity is only around 20 people.

                                        However, even if we never get to order some tsukemen for dinner, I am thrilled that we now have a new, and somewhat unique, version of ramen to choose from.....and I can't wait to try the miso ramen

                                        2 Replies
                                          1. re: MrF

                                            Spot on review. The garlic & red spice both add a lot to this already great bowl.

                                          2. Has anybody tried the Miso Ramen yet?
                                            Is it even available yet?

                                            I'd be interested to hear a review of the Miso Ramen

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: MrF

                                              Went yesterday; no miso ramen yet... :-(

                                              1. re: MrF

                                                They told me sometime this week when I went last week, but yeah, wasn't available yesterday :(

                                              2. New happenings at Tsujita Annex this week...

                                                Last time I was at Shunji, he mentioned getting a preview of the miso ramen at Annex before they opened, and the Tsujita chef there was not too happy about the recipe at the time, and said they would continue tweaking it (Shunji did not say whether he liked the miso or not personally). This is supported by the fact that just on Monday I asked on Tsujita's Facebook page when they were going to start serving miso, and they said "We will announce when we will start serving miso ramen at annex as soon as we get the perfect taste we want!"

                                                Well, apparently they got the recipe how they wanted, because yesterday, they started serving the miso ramen. I had it today at lunch. It's just as fatty and porky as the Annex's shoyu, and unfortunately I didn't really get much of a miso flavor from it. I think the fat content and the very strong tonkotsu base still form the dominant flavor. I'd probably have to do a side-by-side tasting between the shoyu and miso to tease out the miso flavoring, but even I am not hungry enough to be able to consume two bowls of the stuff. The good news is that the miso ramen is still so darn tasty, just not that miso-y (to me). If anyone else has tried it, let me know if my assessment is on-track or not.

                                                Also, this will I'm sure be good news to most, if not all of you tired of the line at the mothership; the Annex will start serving tsukemen tomorrow. From the photo on their FB page (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fb...), the soup for dipping the noodles looks identical to the ramen they serve at Annex, with the fatty broth, moyashi (bean sprout), and onikasu (red spice). Don't know if they'll also serve the same tsukemen soup as the mothership.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: PeterCC

                                                  I was there Monday for the first time - pre-miso - loved it. Loved that I could have it for dinner. Loved the lack of a line.

                                                2. 2 major developments this week:

                                                  1) No more miso ramen - 2 days after they finally unveiled it, they decided that the final product was still not up to par and decided to shelf it for good. I wasn't able to try it...but I was there with PeterCC when Shunji-san mentioned trying the miso ramen, and seemed rather indifferent about it (same w/ the main ramen chef at Tsujita, but he seemed disappointed in himself).

                                                  2) New menu item: shoyu tsukemen - same noodles as the tsukemen across the street; the soup is basically the shoyu tonkotsu broth, but with a vinegar/ponzu sauce diluting it. Also, some onikasu is already added to the broth. Overall, it's pretty good, but nowhere near the quality of the ramen. Also (as I feared), the tsukemen is too similar to the ramen to distinguish itself as a legitimate independent option.

                                                  Also, there might be a new menu item in summer. I asked the manager if it was along the lines of a hiyashi ramen, and she hinted that it's possible. So, maybe something else to look forward to. But R.I.P. miso ramen - 5/14/13-5/15/13.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: chrishei

                                                    As I said above, the miso as they served it didn't distinguish itself enough from the shoyu there. Wonder why they didn't want to do a bit more of a traditional miso? Maybe logistically, in a small shop like that, maintaining two different soup bases at the quality they want would be too difficult. I think though they could have experimented more, maybe with a red miso, something that paired better with the fatty base.

                                                    1. re: chrishei

                                                      Was one of the first in line for this. Was actually hoping to give the miso a go, since I was underwhelmed by the regular ramen broth last time (though the noodles, chashu, egg were all fantastic). But as we waited she brought out some new menu - introducing the tsukemen.

                                                      She asked if we wanted it with the included spice. Of course. It was served tsukemen style. Thick curly noodles and chashu on this side. The chashu was thick cut just like their ramen chashu. The meat was cold, which I don't know if was intentional or not. I found it improved after allowing it to soften and warm in the broth.

                                                      The broth wasn't really anything like the Tsujita tsukemen. And it wasn't like their creamy ramen broth either. It seemed kind of I between in terms of heaviness. But I thought it was very good - the spice, the shoyu, the bits of meat and such all gave it a much more interesting flavor profile. Some in our group actually preferred this to Tsujita proper, as it had a bit more texture than the regular ramen, and was not as impenetrably heavy as their tsukemen.

                                                      Anyway, I left happy and would now be willing to go back again sometime and see how things have progressed. Looking forward to seeing what else they cook up. IMO, even if you leave preferring the original Tsujita's wares, you're still getting a bowl that's at least as good if not better than santouka, yamadaya, and all the other top places in town.

                                                    2. Had a "light" lunch here recently with TheOffalo and chrishei. No wait at 11:30am. Tsukemen with char siu and an extra hanjuku tamago for me. Just the one scoop of onikasu, and that was enough to clear out my sinuses. As the others have mentioned, the broth is ridiculously rich, but still flavorful. TheOffalo very rightly described it as bowl of delicious gravy, into which one could quite happily go face-down.

                                                      Count me a fan of the Annex - I'd rather eat here than the main store.

                                                      Two photos of fatty heaven attached.

                                                       
                                                       
                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: stravaigint

                                                        im with you- love the thicker noodles and the spice and garlic stuff...one thing i miss is that awesome spicy mustard green stuff.

                                                        1. re: stravaigint

                                                          Took my kids after I went with you and chrishei. Got one ramen and one tsukemen. Kids preferred the former. I think the noodles with the latter is better but I may prefer the ramen broth too. Wonder if they'd do a 50/50 with the ramen broth but with tsukemen noodles.