- Feli Nicole Oliveros
From the late 20th century onward, ramen has been considered synonymous with Japanese culture. Los Angeles picked up on the gourmet ramen trend a few years ago, and with the recent renaming of West LA’s Sawtelle corridor to ‘Sawtelle Japantown’ comes even more restaurants to cater to the tastes of every kind of ramen aficionado. Here are the top places in the area to get your fix.
Shin-Sen-Gumi Hakata Ramen
With a bowl of Hakata ramen going for less than seven dollars and the option of adding unlimited toppings, Shin-Sen-Gumi provides students at nearby UCLA and Mount St. Mary’s University with an affordable option among the gourmet ramen shops in the area. The toppings vary from the traditional corn and bamboo shoot options to more interesting flavors like bacon and mozzarella cheese. Because Shin-Sen-Gumi is open every day, even on holidays, it’s also a very dependable choice for those in search of a good bowl of ramen.
1601 Sawtelle Blvd. #101 Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 424 208 3293
If you don’t like green onions or you’re not a fan of spicy ramen, that not a problem. Tatsu allows you to order your ramen exactly the way you like it. Customers line up at the door to place their order on an iPad and search for a seat in the restaurant or outside on the patio amid others eagerly waiting for their bowl of made-to-order ramen. Seven different styles of ramen are available to order, ranging from the traditional Tonkotsu-style bold ramen to the naked ramen, which is served without broth. With corn, garlic, and seaweed toppings always free for customers, it’s hard not to go overboard.
2123 Sawtelle Blvd. Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 310 684 2889
Tsujita LA Artisan Noodles
Tsujita LA and its sister shop, Tsujita Annex, have introduced a new way to eat noodles to the Sawtelle area. Called tsukemen, or dipping noodles, the dish is presented to customers with dry noodles and toppings in one bowl and soup in another; patrons can then dip the noodles in the broth and enjoy its rich flavor. Tsujita LA puts a twist on tsukemen by allowing diners at the restaurant the option to change the taste of the dish throughout the meal. By adding lime juice and soup wari, soup stock used to dilute the thicker tsukemen broth, people have the option to customize their meal just as they would ramen at other shops.
2057 Sawtelle Blvd. Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 310 231 7373
Kotoya Japanese Ramen and Bar
Although not on Sawtelle Boulevard proper, this newer ramen shop is a welcome addition to Japantown’s ramen repertoire. The no-nonsense menu allows patrons to customize their ramen, with a wide variety of topping combinations available. The chashu, slices of pork belly that are first marinated and then braised, is a popular choice, while the bamboo shoots are surprisingly flavorful. Boasting a vegetable option as well as four other more traditional ramen varieties, Kotoya caters to the different types of Angelenos that inevitably make their way through the restaurant’s doors.
11901 Santa Monica Blvd. Suite 111 Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 310 477 1199
A bowl of ramen at Daikokuya is the ultimate Japanese comfort food on days when it’s gloomy or raining outside. The original Daikokuya ramen is flavored by a thick, rich broth, and the spicy miso version has just enough spice to heat up your insides on a cold day. The interior décor and the atmosphere of the restaurant bring to mind a street somewhere in Japan, and they liven up the experience for many who choose to eat there. Luckily, the place is open until 2am every day, so those hit with a bout of late-night hunger can satisfy their appetite here.
2208 Sawtelle Blvd. Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 310 575 4999
Tsujita LA Artisan Noodles Annex
Tsukemen, with its noodles served cold and the hot broth presented in a separate bowl, is the perfect way to enjoy ramen during the hot summer days. Inspired by a ramen restaurant in Tokyo, Tsujita Annex offers a version of the soup that is much different from its sister shop across the street; its heavy garlic profile and melt-in-your-mouth chashu almost makes it a different dish entirely. The noodle shop also provides extra broth on the house for those with leftover noodles still wishing to finish their dish. With the hefty amount of noodles that Tsujita Annex doles out to its customers, you might need it.
2050 Sawtelle Blvd. Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 310 231 0222