New Owner Of Ramen Champ Is Changing Up The Menu

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Ramen Champ (Photo by Jean Trinh/LAist)

There was a lot of chatter when Chinatown's hip and tiny Ramen Champ closed back in August, with the co-owner saying it was just a little vacay for his employees. But now, the ramen restaurant has a new owner and chef, and even some new piping hot bowls of ramen on the horizon come October 2.

Ramen Champ—a partnership between Eggslut co-owners Alvin Cailan and Johnny Lee, and Men Oh Tukushima chef Nathan Asamoto—opened up earlier this year in a plaza shared by neighbors Chego and Pok Pok. However, the gorgeous bowls of ramen, beautifully decorated with scallions and sesame seeds over thick, tonkotsu broth, weren't enough to keep the small 22-seater open. Their Yelp reviews have been mixed at best, and even we weren't big fans of their broths (though their Tako Tots and seasoned eggs were out of this world).

That's where Yoshimasa Kasai, the former director of the Ramen Yokocho festival comes in. The L.A. Times reports that when Kasai heard that Cailan was planning on selling Ramen Champ, he offered to buy it from him. Kasai will be keeping the name and the design of the restaurant (with that really cool black-and-white interior mural by New York artist Mike Houston). Cailan will stay on as a consultant, but the menu is definitely changing.

Kasai, who trained under the chef of Tokyo's famed Ramen Iroha, is no rookie to the ramen world. At the launch, the new Ramen Champ will carry three different ramen bowls: a tonkotsu tan tan with a Sichuan meat sauce; tonkotsu broth with chashu; and a vegan ramen made with kombu, dried shiitake mushrooms, spinach noodles, kale, corn and garlic oil. We're most excited about the fourth one to come in the future, a hot and sour ramen with chicken broth, pork and eggs.

As for Cailan's extremely flavorful and runny hard-boiled eggs, Kasai will be using a version of it in his soups. We're happy about that.

Kasai told Los Angeles magazine, "Incorporating what I learn from wonderful chefs in America and traditional Japanese techniques, I want to create a brand new landscape in ramen and [the] culinary industry in America."