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Shin Sen Gumi Hakata Ramen - The WLA Broth War Thickens

Had an excellent meal there last night. I don't think I enjoyed the Hakata ramen broth and noodles quite as well as Tsujita but it is far more user-friendly and has some great side-dishes.
Prominent among the sides was a boiled spinach with a black sesame paste, as well as several varieties of kara-age (we chose Yuzo). Both were good. We had a nice tofu-tomato salad and yummy pork sausages too.

As for the ramen, I like the thicker noodles better but these were pretty darn good. The broth got very flavorful after adding spicy miso and cod roe. I will surely be going back.

 
 
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  1. I liked it as well - it's a good value and has lots of options. A solid neighborhood option.

    1. I was there for an early dinner last night as well.

      Mon-Thurs $1 draft 2:00-5:00 and walking distance to my house.

      Tsujita is a little rich for me, my current favorite is Hayatemaru, on Olympic.

      This might change, because that yuzo chicken sounds great.

      1. So it's re-opened? Yes!

        I think Tsuijta is better in an absolute sense, but sometimes you just don't want your lips to feel like they've been dunked in grease....

        The quality of the sides varies greatly, but they're so cheap that you don't mind when you (occasionally) get something that's a bit of a dud.

        The only thing that really bothers me is the acoustics and how they yell while greeting you. Yes, I know they're supposed to greet you lustily. I still find it painful (literally, it's just too loud).

        2 Replies
        1. re: ilysla

          Yeah. My ears hurt from the excessive din.

          1. re: kevin

            It's especially bad when the waiters are standing right behind you when they greet someone walking in. Couldn't they walk to another part of the restaurant b/f hollering? =(

        2. Also agree Shin Sen is the most balanced, in terms of the broth, and the restaurant overall. Cuz sometimes, you just don't want a whole bowl of liquid fat.

          1. sometimes you just don't want your lips to feel like they've been dunked in grease....

            thank you

            "sometimes, you just don't want a whole bowl of liquid fat"

            and thank you

            thought I was the only one that felt like I was eating pork fat with noodles

            26 Replies
            1. re: blimpbinge

              That's why I'm over the tonkotsu ramen thing.

              Enter Zetton's chicken and bonito ramen.

              Hopefully our cries will be heard and more non pork based options start popping up.

              1. re: Porthos

                It's in Darkest Sherman Oaks I know, but Omae has plenty of tasty non-pork based options, without nearly the wait and noise of Little Osaka

                1. re: Porthos

                  I wouldn't lump all tonkotsu into the Tsujita camp. It doesn't necessarily always come with a layer of insulating pork fat or with a broth that has been reduced to the consistency of demi-glace. It's always on the rich end of the spectrum, but it sure seems to have veered into truly excessive territory only recently.

                  I just never got Tsujita. My very limited experience with tonkotsu ramen in Tokyo didn't resemble Tsujita at all. Again, it was very limited, though.

                  1. re: cacio e pepe

                    But aren't most reaching or verging on some form of the apotheosis of a custard ?

                    1. re: cacio e pepe

                      Santouka, Yamadaya...everything is tonkotsu in LA. I would be all over Jidaya if it were closer. In fact, tried to order the Jidaya ramen at Torihei the other day but they ran out.

                      I actually like Tsujita but get the tsukemen.

                      1. re: Porthos

                        I agree that tonkotsu rules LA these days, which is a bit of a shame. Even Yamadaya is over the top for me so you know I'm not going to go for Tsujita. I appreciate the tskumen, but it doesn't do it for me.

                        Kevin, I'm not as well versed as I'd like to be in the ramen scene in Japan, but my limited experience didn't seem to indicate that most ramen slingers over there are really trying to push the limits of fat and gelatin in their broths. LA seems to be obsessed with over-rich, over-concentrated broth and I don't have the slightest idea where that's coming from. I've never heard of this idea that ramen=custard.

                        1. re: cacio e pepe

                          "LA seems to be obsessed with over-rich, over-concentrated broth and I don't have the slightest idea where that's coming from"

                          From Tokyo, since 1968, which is when the first jirokei shop opened.

                          http://www.ramentokyo.com/2007/06/ram...

                          More pig fat, please :)

                          1. re: stravaigint

                            It's interesting to see that style goes back so far. No doubt this overly fatty, jus gras style of broth wasn't invented in LA. But if one were to look at the ramen shops in LA, one might conclude that the super-greasy gravy version was the dominant form.

                            I love that this style is represented in LA. It's got it's fans and I very much respect that. But, man, do I wish I could get a bowl of tonkotsu that didn't feel like it was made specifically for a _Man vs. Food_ competition. "Regular" tonkotsu is pretty damn rich to begin with.

                            I'm looking forward to seeing some other iterations of ramen pop up. I was in the tiniest of minorities that loved Ramen California for something different. And I haven't been to Jidaya yet so perhaps there's hope for me yet!

                            Bringing it back to relevance on this thread . . .

                            I'm really happy Shin Sen Gumi is open out here. I much prefer it to Tsujita and Jinya (now closed) so I've got a new westside option when I want the heavy stuff.

                            1. re: cacio e pepe

                              Is the ramen place in the Mitsuwa mall (or whatever it's called now) in Little Tokyo still open? It's the one that had a very large graphic in the window of a woman w/ a fan covering one eye. They have/had the light style of ramen, and they've been around for 20+ yrs?

                              One poster also mentioned the ramen place on Olympic (just west of Sawtelle) that also has a lighter style of ramen. Found the dried shrimp in my broth to be a little weird, though.

                              1. re: ilysla

                                I think you're referring to Ramen Hayetamaru on Olympic. I'm excited to try if after The Offalo (nee Peter CC) has been singing its praises.

                                Don't know the one you're referring to in LT. Not ringing a bell for some reason.

                                1. re: cacio e pepe

                                  I will let the Offalo speak for himself, (he turned me onto RH as well) but think the arrival of Shin Sen Gumi has relegated to Hayetamaru to the spot of an also-ran, for that part of town.

                                  1. re: Ciao Bob

                                    Got it. I'm still happy to check RH out. SSG I've had numerous times, though not this location and I do like it.

                                    When the LT branch opened, I was happy as I'm there more often than Gardena.

                                    Now I can do a SSG/Nuart evening? Suddenly that westside traffic ain't so bad!

                                    1. re: cacio e pepe

                                      Exactly.

                                      Yeah, buddy.

                                      The Nuart theatre one of the last great experimental, artistic, avant-garde, repertory single-screen houses in town.

                                      Possible the only one left. now that the new beverly is only doing repertory.

                                  2. re: cacio e pepe

                                    Oh, were you the one who had mentioned it first? Oops. ;) Based on my vague recollection, SSG seemed to offer more interesting apps.

                                    Found the name of the place in Little Tokyo:
                                    http://www.japaneserestaurantinfo.com...

                                    According to a recent yelp review, it's still open! =) It's *old school* (in a good way).

                                    1. re: ilysla

                                      Ilysla, I'm not sure what you mean. I probably didn't mention anything first! I'm either slow to try new places or else slow to mention them. :)

                                      I'll check out Hana Ichi-monme. Thanks!

                                      1. re: cacio e pepe

                                        Sorry, sleep deprived (as usual). I thought you meant that *you've* been singing its praises to Peter! But that's clearly not what you wrote.... ;)

                                    2. re: cacio e pepe

                                      At Hayatemaru, I've been exclusively getting the Ebiton for ramen, since it's different enough from the various tonkotsu on the Westside. It is a bit on the salty and oily side, though. I still think the sides are better than the ramen there, like the Amazu fried chicken and gyoza.

                                      I definitely like SSG's ramen a lot, better than Tsujita (Original)'s tonkotsu, which I found too salty. I do think the ramen at ANNEX is the best, but really it depends on my mood. For less fatty, SSG is the way to go.

                                      1. re: TheOffalo

                                        is the ramen @ the annex equally salty/heavy?

                                        1. re: blimpbinge

                                          No actually, annex is more salty, and 3x heavier.

                                          Having said that, I still like it if I'm extra hungry.
                                          As for the original Tsujita, I have their tonkotsu #1 in my books in all of LA - but this is all subjective.

                                    3. re: ilysla

                                      Anjinsen, is with the girl winking, i think ????

                                      Ramenya on Olympic.

                                      1. re: kevin

                                        NO!!! Not Aji-sen! (which I think is a Chinese-owned chain; they have/had one at the Century City mall). I think their ramen is fine, but it just seems very... corporate.

                                        1. re: ilysla

                                          my bad. sorry.

                                          please don't bring down the gauntlet. :)

                        2. re: blimpbinge

                          Oh, I assumed everyone thinks it's like eating pork fat + noodles. And, as a "special occasion" ramen, it's fantastic. But I feel like SSG ramen is something I could happily have on a regular basis. =)

                          Thanks for the rec, Tyus. I might try it one of these days when I have a longer lunch break (I work in Encino).

                          1. re: ilysla

                            Damn Encino. Land of no good eats.

                            1. re: kevin

                              Land of *almost* no good eats. I like Streets of India (buffet lunch), but I don't think it's goo for my weight! Veggie Grill just opened nearby, and Gelson's made-to-order sandwiches are *exponentially* better than the pre-made ones (and, if you get a half sandwich + 2 sides, actually quite a good value at $6.45).

                              1. re: ilysla

                                Yeah. It still seems like people like values for lunch.

                                Try out Gio Cucina or Stevie's creole of it's open for lunch Lisa. It's roots are in the original Stevie's on the Strip on Crenwhaw near Jefferson.

                        3. i used to like Shin Sen Gumi years ago, but their ramen has been consistently mediocre for all of my friends and i for too long. this is at their og South Bay branch and in Fountain Valley and the SGV.

                          their chashu is the worst offender of the offering, tasting really... not good. i think some CHers mentioned it in older threads tasting like it was sitting in the fridge for days (premade) and i'd have to agree.

                          i hope the sawtelle branch is different, but i'm in no hurry to bother.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: chowseeker1999

                            AGREED! Mediocre chashu at best at ShinSenGumi. The chashu at Daikokuya in Jtown used to be the best (was never a huge fan of Santouka), but with the declining quality over the years, I hereby crown the new best chashu to be at.........Jidaiya in Torrance! Had some today and it was awesome!

                          2. *This* is what I'm looking for. Rich, yet very clean tasting. Notice how the broth is almost white. One of my problems with the Tsujita/Yamadaya over-the-top style of tonkotsu (other than the excessive fat) is that I actually don't even think they do it that well. I feel like they don't blanch and scrub the bones properly.

                            Oh well. One day, perhaps.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: cacio e pepe

                              Isn't that what the broth at Santouka looks like?

                              1. re: ilysla

                                Close! Which is why it's still tops for broth in my book.