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WLA Ramen Round-Up

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I am really confused -- we went from Asahi and Ramen-ya being the "best" and only options to tons of teeming bowls.
I guess my favorite is Tsujita. What about the rest of y'all? How's Ramen Hayatemaru?

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  1. Nothing has yet held a candle to Tsujita in my opinion, including Tsujita Annex. However you're only limited to Tsukemen and Tonkotsu styles.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Xan7hos

      Heh, I am the opposite; I much prefer the Jiro-style ramen at the ANNEX to Tsujita proper...

    2. Bob, here's two posts of mine on Hayatemaru, the second is a tongue-in-cheek comparison to Kotoya, another WLA option:

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/892901
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/896285

      My favorite is Tsujita (actually, specifically, the ANNEX), but I've been to Hayatemaru probably a dozen times now and here are some of the ways it's "better" than Tsujita:

      * It has a variety of ramen (shio, miso, shoyu, etc.), and I think it does them very well. Not as good as Tsujita, but good enough. Different people can each find a ramen they like at the place, whereas pretty much everyone in your party has to like Tsujita's take on tskuemen/tonkotsu (or the ANNEX's different take on shoyu/tsukemen) or they're out of luck.

      * It is very reasonably priced, with full-size orders starting at $7.50, and half-size orders starting at $5.00.

      * It has really good sides. I've gone in just to have the gyoza and the amazu (Hokkaido-style karaage, called zangi, in a sweet-and-sour ginger/scallion sauce). (Is it unfair to judge the sides?)

      * It does have hanjuku (medium-boiled) ajitsuke tamago, a.k.a. ajitama (seasoned egg).

      * It is not as crowded as Tsujita. :-)

      6 Replies
      1. re: PeterCC

        Thanks Peter.
        I have to eat early, 6:30, alone tonight near Santa Monica and Sepulveda.
        I am thinking I will use your great reports and go low carb @ Hayatemaru with those Gyoza and Karaage and save my ramen/tsukemen cravings for another day!

        1. re: Ciao Bob

          Let me know what you think! And it's cash only!

          I forgot to mention the sides are also very reasonably priced. $3.90 each for the gyoza (6 to an order) and the amazu (decent amount).

          1. re: PeterCC

            PETER!!!!
            Great call. Loved the sides. Especially that kaarage with a kickass ginger broth.
            Also -- HAPPY HOUR DRAFT SAPPORO - 1.98
            Will try the ramen soon.
            Thanks

            1. re: Ciao Bob

              Awesome! Glad you liked it!

            2. re: PeterCC

              Kanpai!

               
              1. re: Ciao Bob

                \_/ :-)

                (That's supposed to be a pint glass...)

        2. My current WLA power rankings (if we're not counting tsukemen):

          1) Tsujita Annex
          2) Tsujita
          3) Santouka
          4) Kotoya
          5) Hayatemaru - it's solid Bob, but the ramen doesn't do anything to stand out above the rest (although the half orders + excellent sides makes for a good combo)

          ...

          t6) Asahi, Chabuya, Ramenya

          15 Replies
          1. re: chrishei

            Flip 4 and 5 and that's my list, but again what Hayatemaru has going for it over the top three (for me) is convenience. Tsujita/Annex are always packed and not that close to me, Santouka is farther away from me than even Tsujita, but Hayatemaru is a (relative) hop, skip, and jump from me.

            1. re: PeterCC

              I think I had it flipped last time you or someone else asked me, but it's close enough to the point where I'll have a different answer every time.

            2. re: chrishei

              And if we DO count Tsukemen?

              1. re: Ciao Bob

                I'm betting just 1 and 2 are flipped.

                1. re: PeterCC

                  I thought Annex does have Tsukemen?

                  1. re: Ciao Bob

                    It definitely did when I went last wk. And the tsukemen seemed to be the same stuff that I had at the original Tsujita for lunch several months ago (b/f the Annex opened).

                    1. re: ilysla

                      Though it is slightly lightened compared to the ramen broth at the Annex, the tsukemen at the Annex is still based on the Jiro-style fatty ramen broth that is only served at the Annex. It is heavier than the tsukemen broth at Tsujita proper, and the noodles for tsukemen (and ramen for that matter) are thicker at the Annex too compared to the mothership.

                      1. re: PeterCC

                        Interesting. I only had the original tsukemen once, so I don't have much "personal" data to make the comparison (the lines are too long, otherwise I'd go much more often).

                        Any particular reason why they're serving different versions? And why is tsukemen broth lukewarm (I assume it's "supposed" to be served that way since I recall being that way at the original place, as well)?

                        And, Peter, are you referring to Ajisen (which I think is in the Century City mall) or Asahi (which is on Sawtelle)?

                        1. re: ilysla

                          Ajisen in Century City Mall, since that is on the Westside. I've been twice and both bowls of ramen were horrible in my opinion. I wanted to see where J.L. would rank that against the low ramen on his totem pole, Tatsu.

                        2. re: PeterCC

                          funny: if you ask the staff @annex, the tsukemen is lighter than the one @tsujita. as far as ramen goes, i hate that they use chow mein-like noodles. that was one of 2 times (the other being daikokuya) where i didn't finish my bowl.

                      2. re: Ciao Bob

                        It does, I was just saying that I think Chris likes the tsukemen at the Tsujita proper better than the annex, the opposite of how he likes their respective ramen.

                      3. re: PeterCC

                        How much do you want to bet?

                        No you're right, I would flip them.

                        1. re: chrishei

                          Thanks Chris - why would you flip them? Both have Tsukemen. If I follow you, your number 1 bowl would be Tsujita tsukemen but, if tsukemen not allowed, Annex ramen would win?

                          1. re: Ciao Bob

                            You are correct, Bob. If I had to do a Tsujita ramen ranking...

                            1) OG tsukemen
                            2) Annex ramen
                            3) OG ramen
                            4) Annex tsukemen

                            I do like the tsukemen at the Annex though, but IMO it's a watered-down version of the ramen with vinegar (relatively "refreshing"). I'm still weak for the fish-laced concentrated broth of the OG tsukemen.

                            1. re: chrishei

                              I am with you - the OG tsukemen was my favorite.
                              I loved the OG Negi-Ramen too (I think that's the name of the one with the scallions).

                  2. My subjective West L.A. ramen current state of play:

                    1. Tsujita
                    2. Santouka
                    3. Tsujita Annex
                    4. Kotoya
                    5. Jinya (yes, I know that location's now gone)
                    6. Yamadaya (Westwood)
                    7. Hayatemaru
                    8. Chabuya

                    Bringing up the rear... Ramen-ya & Asahi

                    And "not even if was the last noodle joint on earth": Tatsu

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: J.L.

                      I forgot about the Westwood Yamadaya and Tatsu...they can join the crowd in 6th place for me.

                      1. re: J.L.

                        What about Ajisen? Is it "Well, if it was the last noodle joint on the earth" or is it "Not even if it was the last edible food on earth" or somewhere else on the spectrum?

                        1. re: PeterCC

                          Ajisen ranks above Tatsu. But not by much.

                          1. re: J.L.

                            Wow, I must remember never to try Tatsu...

                            1. re: PeterCC

                              Well, you should try it once just to see for yourself. Who knows, maybe you'll have a much better experience, and it may even change your life!

                              1. re: J.L.

                                Perhaps, for science.

                              2. re: PeterCC

                                It disgusts me to say this, but Tatsu was actually *gasp* not that bad during soft opening. Not sure if I was swayed by the free meal though, or whether I got drunk during the dinner, but I remembered it being okay (the default ramen back then had black garlic oil that was reminiscent of Jinya's version). Come 2 weeks later, and man, did it suck. If you have to go, I "suggest" ordering the naked ramen.

                        2. Kotoya
                          Yamadaya
                          Santouka
                          Tsujita
                          Hayatemaru

                          waaaaay at the bottom below cup o' noodles: Tsujita Annex

                          Yea i'm a hater. That viscous, fatty broth, while flavorful, grossed me out due to its strange, gelatinous consistency. Maybe that's the appeal for some, but count me out. And the noodles were... i guess the best way to describe it would be doughy. It wasn't quite chewy, it was like badly executed home-made noodles that didn't develop enough gluten to be chewy. It was just heavy and doughy, kind of like eating uncooked noodles. I forced myself to eat about 1/2 of the bowl because I was starving, but regretted it after.

                          To boot, even the spicy tuna bowl was gross - it was basically gummy rice topped with slimy, too-sweet tuna that tasted like it was swirled around in that sweet/vinegary gochujang sauce that comes with hwe dup bap (not that I necessarily have a problem with that sauce, but it just didn't work for this bowl). It was a textural mush and a flavor fail.

                          It wasn't even cheap. Never again.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: soniabegonia

                            I'd go to the Annex for just the chashu rice: http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/tsujit...

                          2. Hayatemaru now has "The Ebiton Ramen ($9)"
                            A shrimp and pork based ramen.
                            Anyone try it?
                            Also new is a grilled chicken skin with ponzu.

                            I was too full from tha Amazu Chicken to sample either.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Ciao Bob

                              It's pretty good! Actually their best offering IMO.

                              Chicken skin is decent - a little dry though, like a chicken chicharron. I prefer it to be a little soft inside from the fattiness.

                              1. re: chrishei

                                +1 on the Ebiton being their best. Bob, it's a little oilier than their other offerings, but it is very shrimpy in a good way.

                                Chris, I've had the chicken skins a few times now, and the first time we had it, it was indeed very crisp and dry (my preference), but the other times it was a little softer and chewier, so I think it just depends.

                                1. re: PeterCC

                                  I really enjoy the place. Thanks for turning me on to it.

                                  1. re: PeterCC

                                    Went last night.
                                    That Ebiton Ramen is really excellent. Great flavor.

                                    Enjoyed the fried skin too, not so much the boiled skin, which was tough and chewy.