Men Oh Tokushima was one of the 10 Best Ramen Shops of Los Angeles as listed by LaWeekly. It’s one of those restaurants located in Little Tokyo, but not in the part of Little Tokyo most tourists would walk through. Like many places in Little Tokyo, you have to pay for to park in the same plaza. My company and I parked in a different part of Little Tokyo and made our way to the restaurant.
Ramen Hayatemaru prides itself with serving the best Hokkaido style ramen, with its specialty ingredients straight from Hokkaido, Japan. They serve ramen noodles made from goma (ごま) seeds and Okuhara sauces from their factory in Hokkaido. It seems like a lot of effort for such a small, hole-in-the wall over on the Westside, but their efforts are not in vain. I still dream about their flavorful ramen and can’t wait to go back.
Ramen Yukinoya in Arcadia is one of three of Ramen Yukinoya stores located all around Los Angeles. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve driven past this place on the way to the 99 Ranch Market in Arcadia. It never really caught my eye, due to its humble appearance from the outside. But I finally gave this place a chance.
3540 Homestead Rd
Santa Clara, CA 95051
There is not much to say about this famous ramen place. It’s one of the best ones I’ve ever had! The broth of the Orenchi Ramen was SO delicious and flavorful, it really just speaks for itself. Noodles were just the right texture, chewy but not tough, and not at all soggy. They give you a jar of crushed garlic at your table, so you can add as much as you want…I added a lot, and it really enhanced the flavor of the soup for me. We also ordered Karaage, which was very crispy and juicy inside, and their special french fries, which had a special sauce on it and bonito flakes. Everything was delicious…please just enjoy the photos and try it for yourself. I hear sometimes the wait is over an hour, but luckily we went on a Sunday evening and it wasn’t too bad, my friend got there first and put our names down, total wait time was approximately 30 minutes.
We continue on with our Asia food adventure with Japan! My mom and I arrived in Japan at night on the 4th of July. We were flying back to the U.S on the 7th, so realistically, we had 2 days to travel around Japan. I had anticipated that Japan was going to be costly, but I did not realize how costly. I think within the first 24 hours of being in Japan, we spent $500 on transportation, tours, meals, very small souvenirs, and a few snacks. Insane!
Our hotel wasn’t located within Tokyo. It was too much to stay in Tokyo, so we stayed in Shinjuku. The Narita airport is actually quite far from the city. It took about 2 hours to get to Shinjuku via bus, with only one 5 minute stop. We arrived pretty late at night, but were extremely hungry. We decided to venture from our hotel to see what was in the area. We stumbled upon a ramen shop next to our hotel.
Let me just say, this was the most amazing find! It was so convenient to have this near our hotel. We actually came back to eat here twice! The ramen was the cheapest thing we had throughout our Japan trip. The ramen was around $10 each person, which was a lot cheaper than the other meals we came across.
Also, I’d like to mention, that no other ramen I’ve ever had compares to the ramen I had in Japan. It was so amazing! Gah, I miss it so much! The noodles are cooked aldente, but has a wonderful texture and flavor to this. The spicy miso broth had a nice thickness too it, but not too thick. The soy sauce ramen was light and full of flavor, topped with bean sprouts and chau siu.
I was in heaven!
My cousin once asked me if I’ve ever eaten food that touched my soul– the kind of food that makes the world go silent, and there is nothing else but you and that moment of happiness. In that moment, no one is talking. They just eat with joy. As my cousin said, “life is simple, you eat and then you’re happy.” I love that he said that and I totally agree with that statement! And I must say, that this ramen… definitely touched my soul.
I don’t think I was disappointed at all with Japan’s food. Everything tasted amazing..even the McDonald’s.. haha. During one of the days, we took a full tour of Tokyo. We visited the Tokyo Tower, the Imperial Palace, the Meiji Shrine, and so much more. It was definitely worth taking the tour as opposed to traveling around by ourselves, especially considering that we got to see so many different locations over a limited amount of time. We wouldn’t have been able to do it ourselves.
Although we were in Japan for a limited amount of time, my mom and I were quite excited by the food scene in Japan and took a lot of pictures of different types of food. So I’m going to continue on with my Japan trip recap on another post.
Look forward to it!
Next up: hello kitty pastries!!!
Foo Foo Tei (鳳鳳亭, “phoenix pavilion”) is one of Hacienda Heights’ great ramen hotspots (846 Yelp reviews as of date). I’ve heard this place mentioned by many people when I tell them I’m from that area. This past week, I finally tried it for myself, accompanied by my sister.
The place itself is in a rather obscure part of town. It’s located in a seedy industrial area, neighboring factories and auto shops. The interior is modest, with few decorations and plain furnishings. The table was rather sticky on my visit. But there was a bustling lunch crowd, happily slurping away their ramen noodles.
The menu, 6 pages long, was overwhelming at best. There were hundreds of items available. For an indecisive diner like myself, it was a bit taxing to find something I wanted. I suggest you look at their online menu before dining there, to save time.
My sister was already set on what to order: the #17 ramen: nanchatte tonkotsu, with a 75¢ add-on of corn. The broth in tonkotsu ramen is made from simmering pork bones. However, Foo Foo Tei’s twist is that it substitutes pork with tofu. The broth was noticeably less milky (perhaps because it lacks the dissolved pork fat and collagen).
On the contrary, the broth was creamy and light, but I didn’t enjoy the noodles. Also, I found the soup base to be a bit too salty (perhaps it’s just my personal preference). The slices of pork were tasty though. The portion size was humongous, enough to split between the two of us.
Our second and final order was the takana bacon fried rice, a pretty basic dish that could be replicated at home with ease. Takana is a Japanese type of mustard green similar to Chinese kiam tsai (鹹菜). The whole dish combines scrambled eggs, bits of bacon, mustard greens, garnished with some ginger and green onions. It was tasty, but as expected, the portion size (for $6.50) was surprisingly large. This dish could have easily been shared among four people. (I was disappointed the dish had tiny bits of bacon sparingly sprinkled…)
Although I was a bit underwhelmed, considering all the praise Foo Foo Tei has been getting, it’s definitely a solid place for a hearty Japanese meal. Don’t come alone, or else you should prepare yourself to box up the leftovers.
15018 Clark Ave
Hacienda Heights, CA 91745
I’m trying to post a little bit more this week to make up for the lack of activity that is to come from myself for the next 3 weeks. I will leaving for Asia this Saturday, June 16th. I’ll be in Thailand, Indonesia, and Japan. I promise to share my amazing food adventures when I return. 🙂
Meanwhile, my cousin is currently visiting from Indiana for the week. He’s going with us to Thailand then to Indonesia. Whenever he’s here, I always take him to eat whatever he wants. One of the funniest things he told me before coming here was about a conversation he had with a friend.
Friend: ” So what are you going to do in LA?”
Cousin: ” I’m going to get fat.”
Haha! Man, oh man, do I take LA food for granted.
Anyhow, we went to Shinsengumi, which is one of his favorite ramen restaurants here in LA. It is definitely one of my favorites, considering it’s close by and accessible.
You can order either a regular size of ramen or a 1/2 order. I usually go with the regular. With the regular size, you can also add an additional order of noodles if you’re still hungry for $1. However, you can’t do this with the 1/2 order ramen.
There is a basic type of ramen, that comes with chau-siu pork, green onions/ginger (if desired). Any additional toppings, such as corn, egg, or bamboo shoots can be added to your ramen for an extra cost. You can also customize how hard or soft your noodles will be and also how heavy or light you want the soup base to be. I usually get medium straight across.
I love the feel of this restaurant. It’s small, and the wait can be crazy, but it’s fun. I’ve taken a lot of friends here on several different occasions, and they all seemed to enjoy it. I really like the flavor of the broth, however, I must be honest and say I’ve had better. However, if you’re looking for something nearby and you don’t want to make the trek to Little Tokyo for some ramen, I say that Hakata Ramen is a good substitute.
But remember, the wait can be long, so be prepared.
8450 E Valley Blvd
Rosemead, CA 91770
So, for Pepero Day 2011, Alvin and I had lunch at Tsujita LA in Sawtelle, a Japanese enclave less than 2 miles away from Westwood. For the longest time, I had been anticipating this place’s opening. Tsujita LA is the first American branch of a small ramen chain based in Tokyo.
There was already a mid-sized crowd waiting for tables when we arrived for lunch. We quickly filled out our name on the waitlist and went to Giant Robot across the street to kill some time.
The dish to order here is their tsukemen, a slow-simmered broth of pork bones, cartilage and lard, and dipping noodles. According to some sources (ahem..Google), the broth is specially simmered for 60 hours at a separate site before being served.
The restaurant is really classy, making good use of its cramped corner location inside a pretty new plaza (it’s across the street from Volcano Tea House, one of the few legit boba places around UCLA. Although I didn’t take a picture, on the ceiling is a dazzling piece of artwork, thousands of wooden spoons arranged as to form clouds.
The tables are honestly a bit cramped. The buffet of condiments on each table basically took up a third of the table, leaving little room for eating.
I didn’t really care for their char-siu tonkotsu ramen, priced at $12.95, well beyond my budget for ramen. First off, 3 tiny slivers of pork is not enough to win my approval. I don’t think the ramen base could win any accolades in its present form. However, it was truly creamy and rich, with pork bones, cartilage and fat completely melted in. Unbelievable. Saltiness wasn’t a problem either, as it is with a lot of the ramen I eat.
The salmon sashimi rice bowl was decent, in both price and taste. Less than $5, it was generously packed with fresh cuts of salmon that melted in my mouth. I don’t care much for Japanese rice (with fat, sticky grains), but this won’t present a problem to those Japanese foodies.
Finally, the piece de resistance: Tsujita’s tsukemen. Of late, tsukemen has been gaining traction in the States, although it’s mostly confined to the West Coast. I especially love the abundance of ramen joints in LA.
As the instructions on the website point out, the tsukemen is eaten in 3 stages (to bring out different flavors):
- Begin by dipping the noodles into the accompanied soup broth until you have enjoyed around 1/3 of the noodles.
- Then mix into the noodles the black shichimi (black seven flavor chili pepper) and enjoy another 1/3 of the noodles with the soup.
- Finally squeeze lime juice into the noodles and mix well, enjoying the last of the noodles and soup.
In all honesty, we didn’t properly take care in reading the instructions beforehand, so I squeezed the lime onto the noodles at the beginning. It’s just impulse, I suppose. I found it a bit tedious to dip the noodles into the soup broth before eating them (Stage 1), so this was truly a test of patience for me. Especially given that the noodles weren’t so great. Alvin and I both agreed that the worst part of this dish were the noodles: a bit undercooked.
Stage 3, the pouring of the remaining broth into the noodles. My favorite part: immersing myself in the broth and noodles.
The tsukemen broths were unbelievably frothy and creamy. I was left speechless. I might as well have been drinking straight from a cow’s udder. I could really sip this stuff for the rest of my life and not regret a thing.
I’ve never tried the dinner menu (which is too exorbitantly priced for me, anyhow), but the tsukemen gets a big thumbs up. As with most Japanese joints, a typical meal will cost upwards of $20/person.
P.S. I love LA’s vibrant ramen scene.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been here. It’s actually the third, but it was the first time at this particular location at a huge Mitsuwa in Costa Mesa. Apparently this restaurant is famous with Indonesian foreigners, too, who go out of their way to come and eat at Santouka.
We all had the Spicy Miso Ramen except my mom. She can’t tolerate spicy foods at all. (Ironic I know, for an Indonesian to not be able to eat spicy foods).
The broth was slightly thick and creamy, but was extremely flavorful. The noodles were cooked just perfectly, and the chau siu that they have on top just melts in your mouth. YUM! Loved it.
I definitely recommend this dish to all. It really isn’t spicy though, but saying that could be misleading, considering I have a tolerance of a BAMF.
I think Santouka is available at any Mitsuwa that has a food court. Try it out!
665 Paularino Ave
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
- 1 packet of shin ramen
- 1cup of chopped cabbage
- 1/2 cup of carrots
- 1/2 cup of bokchoy
So to accompany the cornish hen I made for dinner that night, my current summer roommate, Michelle, wanted to make ramen. Haha I’m sure you all know how to make ramen, but this is a way to kind of upgrade your ramen and pack it full of flavors other than the ones that come out of the bag.
Michelle and I like veggies, so we packed this thing full of veggies. I always love my ramen with cabbage. We also used two eggs, and broke them up in the ramen, to get chunks of egg in the broth. You can cook your eggs any way you want to, but basically if you want to keep the egg whole, you should put it on the bottom of the pot by pouring the ramen and broth and other ingredients over the freshly cracked egg. This way, the egg could cook in the broth.
If you happen to have some tofu, you can add it into your ramen, too. What I’ve seen in other places is that they add seaweed to their ramen and also fish cake.
Anyway, Michelle and I came to the same conclusion— shin ramen is just not as spicy as it used to be. Because of this, I added more chili powder and sracha to my bowl. I love super spicy, and this was not that. =(
Anyhow, it was a simple meal.. I hope you guys enjoyed it.
p.s Does anyone else think that shin ramen is no longer spicy?
Maru Ichi Ramen
Home for the summer! Which means going out to eat A LOT. The first adventure was at this ramen place in Milpitas that has literally been right next door to the Quickly I go to often and yet I never took notice until I had a craving one day and yelped it. I got Combo B which came with a huge bowl of Tonkatsu ramen, gyoza, and california rolls for $9.95. The ramen was very filling, I couldn’t even finish it (and I did not drink all the broth) and it was pretty decent, the broth wasn’t too salty or anything and the meat was very tender, the soft boiled egg was new to me but it was really good with the noodles (yay cholesterol). The noodles itself were a little too soft/mushy to my liking but the flavor was good, not too bland. It’s not comparable to Little Tokyo ramen places but it was still really yummy. The gyoza was just the way I liked it, crispy but not too hard and had a yummy filling. The roll was huge with a lot of imitation crabmeat and avocado inside. Service was prompt and friendly, even though they’d leave the restaurant altogether so nobody was really watching over customers. In fact I overheard one waitress tell another that two people just gave her the excuse that they were going to get money from the ATM and they never came back…fail. But my experience was good and my group enjoyed the ramen, definitely will be back if another craving comes along.