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WLA Ramen Round-Up

Ciao Bob Jun 17, 2013 01:43 PM

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?

  1. x
    Xan7hos Jun 17, 2013 02:35 PM

    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
      PeterCC Jun 17, 2013 02:53 PM

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

    2. PeterCC Jun 17, 2013 02:50 PM

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


      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
        Ciao Bob Jun 17, 2013 04:22 PM

        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
          PeterCC Jun 17, 2013 04:29 PM

          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
            Ciao Bob Jun 17, 2013 07:12 PM

            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.

            1. re: Ciao Bob
              PeterCC Jun 17, 2013 07:25 PM

              Awesome! Glad you liked it!

            2. re: PeterCC
              Ciao Bob Jun 17, 2013 07:13 PM


              1. re: Ciao Bob
                PeterCC Jun 17, 2013 07:27 PM

                \_/ :-)

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

        2. c
          chrishei Jun 17, 2013 02:52 PM

          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
            PeterCC Jun 17, 2013 02:56 PM

            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
              chrishei Jun 17, 2013 02:58 PM

              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
              Ciao Bob Jun 17, 2013 03:36 PM

              And if we DO count Tsukemen?

              1. re: Ciao Bob
                PeterCC Jun 17, 2013 03:42 PM

                I'm betting just 1 and 2 are flipped.

                1. re: PeterCC
                  Ciao Bob Jun 17, 2013 03:45 PM

                  I thought Annex does have Tsukemen?

                  1. re: Ciao Bob
                    ilysla Jun 17, 2013 03:48 PM

                    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
                      PeterCC Jun 17, 2013 03:53 PM

                      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
                        ilysla Jun 17, 2013 05:15 PM

                        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
                          PeterCC Jun 17, 2013 05:23 PM

                          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
                          namstermonster Jun 17, 2013 05:36 PM

                          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
                        PeterCC Jun 17, 2013 03:50 PM

                        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
                        chrishei Jun 17, 2013 03:45 PM

                        How much do you want to bet?

                        No you're right, I would flip them.

                        1. re: chrishei
                          Ciao Bob Jun 17, 2013 03:51 PM

                          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
                            chrishei Jun 17, 2013 04:48 PM

                            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
                              Ciao Bob Jun 17, 2013 05:43 PM

                              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. J.L. Jun 17, 2013 03:28 PM

                    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.
                      chrishei Jun 17, 2013 03:33 PM

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

                      1. re: J.L.
                        PeterCC Jun 17, 2013 03:38 PM

                        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
                          J.L. Jun 17, 2013 06:03 PM

                          Ajisen ranks above Tatsu. But not by much.

                          1. re: J.L.
                            PeterCC Jun 17, 2013 06:14 PM

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

                            1. re: PeterCC
                              J.L. Jun 17, 2013 06:17 PM

                              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.
                                PeterCC Jun 17, 2013 06:56 PM

                                Perhaps, for science.

                              2. re: PeterCC
                                chrishei Jun 17, 2013 06:30 PM

                                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. soniabegonia Jun 27, 2013 04:29 PM


                          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
                            Servorg Jun 27, 2013 05:05 PM

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

                          2. Ciao Bob Nov 4, 2013 09:18 AM

                            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
                              chrishei Nov 4, 2013 09:21 AM

                              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
                                PeterCC Nov 4, 2013 10:20 AM

                                +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
                                  Ciao Bob Nov 4, 2013 11:06 AM

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

                                  1. re: PeterCC
                                    Ciao Bob Nov 5, 2013 08:17 AM

                                    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.

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