In the world of ramen, Los Angeles generally dishes out some of the best in the country. Yet, New York may have produced one of the most famous. Momofuku Noodle Bar is by no means known for traditional ramen, but its success has spawned other Momofuku offshoots in New York and even internationally. Thus, when I found myself hungry at an off-peak hour I decided I had to take the opportunity to hit up the noodle bar.
Pasadena isn’t exactly known for being at the forefront of the food world. Often a restaurant finds success elsewhere in LA and decides Pasadena is a good outpost for a sequel. You could say that is the case with Ramen Tatsunoya, which first found success in Japan, then as a popup in Torrance, but Pasadena was officially chosen as it’s first location for a long-term foray into the United States. The incessant hour-long line out the door proves that this wasn’t a bad idea.
What do you do in Pasadena when it’s 100 degrees outside? Surely not ramen in an un-air conditioned restaurant. Right? Wrong. You see, sometimes you just need ramen and sometimes that means going to Tamashii for it. Tamashii is a small izakaya-esque spot that has a surprising variety for such a small place, even within the ramen section.
It’s pretty well-known that Little Tokyo is now home to some of the best restaurants in LA. One of these is better-known for their spicy ramen challenge perhaps moreso than how good their ramen actually is. This place is Orochon Ramen, which can be found in one of Little Tokyo’s mini malls and I set out to try their non-crazy-spicy ramen to see how it held up.
A great ramen is hard to find. Good ramen, not so much, but great yes. So when Slurping Turtle in Chicago got so big that they decided to open up an outpost in Ann Arbor, I assumed great things. So on my last visit to Michigan amidst weather worthy of ramen, I made sure to make a stop in Ann Arbor for some slurping.
EDIT: Grit & Grace is now a noodle bar, but I’m guessing it is just as delicious as before.
While some parts of the country might have Asian fusion around every corner, Pittsburgh has (most likely for the better) avoided much of this. There is, however, a spot downtown called Grit & Grace that has welcomed that sort of cuisine. It starts with a little something they call American Dim Sum. It’s nothing at all like actual dim sum aside from the fact that it is in small servings, but it is quite delicious. We had some of the Pork Belly Bites (with orange, chili, garlic and ginger) and Kimchi Balls (with rice and cheese). They were both incredible, and the balls surprisingly so because I have a rational hatred of kimchi and these tasted nothing like it.
In all my time living in LA I had one major failure. Well maybe more than one failure, but one of them is not making a trip to Daikokuya. Fortunately, that ramen spot set up an outpost over in Little Little Tokyo. It has a crazy wait, but when you step inside it feels like you’ve really stepped onto a street in Japan (as evidenced by that picture to the left inside the place).
Down in Gardena and Torrance, it’s hard to turn a corner without spotting a ramen shop. So when my coworkers and I set out for some Hakata Ramen Shinsengumi and found the line to be too long, it wasn’t hard to get our ramen fix elsewhere. That led us to Tampopo in Gardena. Tampopo may have a good amount of ramen on their menu, but they reminded me of an old-fashioned Japanese izakaya moreso than a simple ramen restaurant.
Before attending an event in Westwood, my woman and I decided to see what the college town had to offer in terms of dinner. Sure, I had eaten in Westwood many times before, but typically with specific places in mind. This time, it was about walking around and picking dinner based on our gut, which led us to Noodle World. I had expected something like Noodles & Company, which makes dishes from all sorts of noodles, but Noodle World has a lot more options, while keeping its noodles Asian. No mac and cheese here.
On a drunken evening in Osaka, I vaguely recall punching buttons on an old school lotto-style machine at a ramen restaurant. The result was some of the most delicious drunk food I have ever eaten. Fast forward to 2012 and Tsujita continues its stranglehold on the ramen scene of Little Little Tokyo in West LA. Yet, it is not alone in ramen. Tatsu sits just down the road and has taken that machine concept I encountered in Osaka into modernity.