The Best New Ramen In Los Angeles
We love our ramen at LAist. Thankfully, we live in America's greatest ramen city, and have plenty of options to choose from. With the ramen craze showing no signs of slowing down, it can be hard to keep up. Here is the best new ramen that has popped up in Los Angeles since our last list.
Japanese food is not that spicy. The usual spicy options are rarely more than a pleasant burn, and the strongest are the so called "challenge" bowls that are less for eating and more for a stamina test/exercise in masochism.
Anzutei's spicy shoyu ramen, a spin on Taiwanese danzai noodles, doesn't seem intimating at first. Their Nagoya-style shoyu broth, less inundated with the cloudy pork fat of the tonkotsu broths we're all too familiar with, is clear enough to see the bottom of the bowl. Where it packs its punch is in the ground pork topping, loaded with enough numbing Sichuan peppers to make you have to pace your slurping. It's a perfect balance of umami and sharp spiciness that won't leave you feeling heavy. For your second meal there (and there will be one), there's also their fiery-red tantanmen, a Japanese take on the Chinese dan dan mian.
Anzutei is located at 633 South Spring Street in downtown Los Angeles. (213) 688-0011.
Pasadena got a special gift in December: the arrival of Ramen Tatsunoya, a chain straight from Japan. This particular eatery is their first U.S. location, and features a simple menu of three types of tonkotsu. What they do differently is that they specifically slow-cook pig head bones for 15 hours so you get a milky broth that is milder and not as fattening as other tonkotsu broths. Our favorite is the Koku Tonkotsu which has an intense garlic flavor and slices of juicy, well-marinated smoked pork. But if you're a spice fan, definitely go for their Spicy Miso Tonkotsu, which comes with thicker noodles and the smoked chashu; it has an earthier taste. And always spring for the soft-boiled egg. —Jean Trinh
Ramen Tatsunoya is located at 16 North Fair Oaks Avenue in Pasadena. (626) 432-1768.
A newcomer to Koreatown, this Japanese restaurant takes the place of Gatten Sushi. They ripped out the conveyor belt and spruced up this Metro-adjacent spot, now offering a variety of sushi, ramen, desserts and drinks. There's plenty to choose from on their menu, but when it comes to ramen, they have big, hearty bowls with a rich broth. They've got a spicy Kyushu tonkotsu ramen, a Tokyo shoyu ramen, seafood ramen and a spicy Sapporo miso ramen. And during happy hour, which is every day from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., you can get a 16 oz. Kirin for $2.50, as well as $3 wines and sake. You really can't beat that. —Juliet Bennett Rylah
Kashira is located at 3785 Wilshire Blvd. in Koreatown. 213-388-1620.
PALMS RAMEN YUMEYA
Newcomer Palms Ramen Yumeya is a great neighborhood spot where you can slurp a top-notch bowl of noodles without suffering the long lines of the more established ramen joints. Their tonkotsu ramen delivers with a satisfyingly rich, yet not overly salty pork broth, laden with plenty of springy, chewy noodles and juicy, well-charred slices of chashu. If you're looking for a bit of heat we strongly recommend the spicy version or you can use their housemade chili paste to customize. Though if you're looking for a bit of variety, their tsukemen ramen, where the noodles and toppings arrive separately from the broth, is a really excellent choice. Some say it's even giving revered places like Tsujita a run for their money (gasp). The pork and fish tsukemen broth is flavor-packed without being too heavy and features tasty bites of pork. Whichever ramen you order, you're definitely going to want to take them up on the offer of fresh garlic, which arrives with your very own garlic press for an personalized kick. Once occupied by Beard Papas and a Guelaguetza location before that, the space is also pretty charming and quirky with brick archways, wooden beams and mismatched tables and chairs. —Danny Jensen
Palms Ramen Yumeya is located at 11127 Palms Boulevard in Palms. (310) 836-8980.
JINYA RAMEN EXPRESS
OK, so Jinya is one of the most established of ramen options in Los Angeles (and one of the best), but their latest takeout counter at the Hollywood and Highland Center changes the game with Chipotle-style customizable bowls. You might be tempted to go experimental with your ramen, opting for veggie toppings you normally don't get elsewhere like tomatoes, jalapeños, green beans and brussels sprouts. There's even spinach noodles if you want to take things even further. For the indecisive person who is already tired of the tourists holding up the line, opt for one of their signature bowls. You'll be surprised at how well the taste of roasted Brussels sprouts cut through spicy tonkotsu miso broth.
Jinya's Ramen Express is located at 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Suite 317 in the Hollywood and Highland Center in Hollywood. (323) 391-1916.
SLURPIN' RAMEN BAR
This new spot in a K-Town strip mall offers communal seating and a small, but solid menu of ramen. The Slurpin' Ramen is your more traditional choice, with your choice of meat in a creamy, flavorful pork broth, paired with green onion, seaweed, black garlic oil and garlic, with additional toppings available for a slight upcharge. We suggest the egg or the crunchy onion & garlic. Meat choices include fatty pork, chashu, crunchy chashu and chicken, or tofu. They also offer a veggie ramen that doesn't skimp on the toppings. You can also choose your spiciness level here, and a "super spicy" choice actually does offer some heat. Appetizers include gyoza, tempura and takoyaki, bulgogi egg rolls and fried rice.
You can also get beer and sake here, including a draft Sapporo for $3, and desserts include macarons and tempura ice-cream. From 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, you can add an appetizer and a salad to any bowl of ramen for $3. —Juliet Bennett Rylah
Slurpin' Ramen Bar is located at 3500 West 8th Street in Koreatown, (213) 388-8607.
Ramen options are few and far between for vegans. Thankfully Grand Central Market's Ramen Hood might have the thickest ramen broth you can get without using pork fat and bones. A creamy concoction made from sunflower seeds, non-vegans will be surprised at how rich it is. Instead of chashu, their OG Ramen is topped with meaty morsels of oyster mushrooms. The one thing this non-vegan is not a fan of: the vegan egg made of soy milk and nutritional yeast. No thanks.
Ramen Hood is located in Grand Central Market at 317 South Broadway in downtown. (213) 265-7331.
Chef Alvin Cailan of Eggslut first opened Ramen Champ, but he handed over the reins to Yoshimasa Kasai, the former director of Ramen Yokocho festival, in October. We dig Kasai's iteration of Ramen Champ. The artistic black and white anime artwork still adorns the walls, and you still feel like you're at a ramen bar where you can grab a stool for a quick bite. What's different is the complex tonkotsu broth is lighter than the former and more balanced, but something we're happy that Kasai kept from Cailan are his wonderfully seasoned, soft-boiled eggs. The chashu pork comes in thick, hearty slices, and the addition of the black sesame oil adds more dimensions to the broth. And while you're there, you might as well pick up the tasty fried karage chicken that comes out as big crispy drumsticks smothered in a house-made sweet and sour sauce. —Jean Trinh
Ramen Champ is located at 727 North Broadway, 2nd Floor in Chinatown. (213) 316-8595.