Ramen in Los Angeles has become as ubiquitous as, let’s say pizza in New York City. It is truly everywhere you turn and like pizza there are several different styles thanks to some brave entrepreneurs who have looked outside the typical bowl of ramen and noticed that Angelenos these days are thirsty for more. The list below is by no means a concrete list of the best ramen dishes in LA but rather a list of solid contenders that are a must when visiting the city of angels.
Tsukemen at Okiboru
Tsujita LA has a reputation throughout Los Angeles for serving authentic tonkotsu ramen. The fatty broth – perhaps too fatty for some – pairs great with their noodles. Their sister restaurant, Tsujita Annex which is right across the street, specializes in tsukemen, a dipping style of ramen and is known for bringing it to LA first. Many thought other places would pop up with their own version of tsukemen soon after but I suppose it has proven more difficult than first realized.
Tsujita LA is located at 2057 Sawtelle Blvd
This is the first ramen experience I ever had and it happened by accident. I would assume Daikokuya is the place where many people had their first ramen bowl, since their history is evident. Daikokuya has been serving bowls of tonkotsu in Little Tokyo for quite some time. The broth is excellent and I would scream it from the rooftops for many years but after many competitors have opened since, I’ve come to realize that the noodles are a bit less than stellar compared to others around the city.
Daikokuya is located at 327 E 1st St, Little Tokyo
THE RAMEN JOINT
The Ramen Joint is a newer westside option that serves ramen, delicious small dishes and an incredible version of Mazemen. The latter is a dry noodle dish which has thick, chewy noodles, spicy ground pork, savory nori, garlic paste, scallions and a raw egg yolk that should certainly be stabbed into and mixed around. It is really a beautiful dish that is quite new to me and really should have a rightful place in the ramen world.
The Ramen Joint is located at 6220 West 87th St, Westchester
Kotoya is located in a strip mall off of Santa Monica Boulevard. Kotoya does not get the media hype as some others on this list but it serves a cheap bowl of ramen that could easily stack up against the big boys around LA. Does it deserve a top ramen nod, maybe not but it is certainly a great neighborhood spot that doesn’t deserve to be overlooked.
Kotoya is located at 11901 Santa Monica Blvd
Located in Chinatown, Okiboru is another place that specializes in Tsukemen. They are a relative newcomer to the ramen scene, having opened about five months ago. Their name is ‘THE House of Tsukemen’ because literally, that is all they do. According to them, they are the only shop in the country that makes their own noodles in house. I can neither confirm or deny that but by simply searching for tsukemen in the U.S., very few options come up. The noodles are quite delicious and are solely meant for the broth to stick to them. The rich and creamy broth gets its consistency from being simmered over 2-3 days. I am still getting used to tsukemen and definitely need to make another trip back to try their other bowls.
Okiboru is located at 635 N Broadway, Los Angeles
Ask any hardcore ramen lover and they will most likely have Santouka in their top five without a doubt. It is sort of a cult favorite but for good reason. The atmosphere is a bit lacking or perfect if you don’t mind tight spaces and can care less if the person next to you hears your entire conversation. The signature shio ramen is light and beautifully balanced plus it won’t leave you feeling bloated which is always key.
Santouka is located at 3760 S Centinela Ave
JINYA RAMEN BAR
Tokyo restaurateur Tomonori Takahashi has created a ramen empire that includes locations in over 13 states. Since 2010, the Jinya restaurant group has established itself as a true destination for a solid bowl of ramen. Their broth is simmered for ten hours while noodles are aged over three days. Their Lobster Ramen has become a desired bowl by many who make the trek to their Studio City location to get it.
Jinya Ramen Bar is located at 11239 Ventura Blvd, Studio City and many other locations
Lobster Ramen at Jinya Ramen Bar
Tatsu is one of the few places to get vegan ramen. The “Hippie Ramen” is a huge fan favorite. The broth is soy sauce based, with a hint of ginger and sweet onion, which gives it a tangy mouthfeel. The broth for their other ramen dishes is exceptionally thick, being a bit too rich for my taste but delicious nonetheless.
Tatsu is located on 7111 Melrose Ave, Fairfax and 2123 Sawtelle Blvd
A short walk from Tatsu, E.A.K. is a more intimate place with hip hop playing blasting from the speakers above.
Their Oh So Hot! ramen is a miso-based broth, but not as spicy as you might think. For their Zebra ramen, the noodles are very thick, which I typically favor but may not be for everyone. They are also cooked a bit al dente which I also prefer but again, it’s all subjective. The broth is a blend of pork and chicken which gives it an even balance.
E.A.K. Ramen is located at 7455 Melrose Ave