>> Sunday, April 15, 2012
Price: $10-15 per bowl of ramen
Location: 2057 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025
The Quick Bit:+ 60 hour tonkotsu broth for the ramen base
+ best ramen I've had outside of Japan
+ strong flavored tsukemen
Δ food could have been less salty
During my trip to Los Angeles, I resolved to dine that the finest ramen establishment the city had to offer. At first, I thought the destination would be somewhere in Little Tokyo like Daikokuya. However, a quick search resulted in Little Osaka being the new destination of choice. While 2008 may have been the food truck boom in LA, 2011 was the year ramen took off.
A relative newcomer, Tsujita only started serving ramen around October 2011, and then only for lunch. Tsujita is the child of Chef Takehiro Tsujita, who set about creating the perfect bowl of ramen ten years ago. After developing his recipe and opening his first ramen-ya, Tsujita now owns 7 restaurants globally (4 in Tokyo, 1 in Beijing, 1 in Bangkok, and 1 in Los Angeles). His ramen is styled as tonkotsu gyokai, or a mixture of both pork and fish broth.
|sauces at Tsujita|
|char-siu tonkotsu ramen|
The ramen came steaming hot with a generous amount of wood ear mushrooms, bamboo, negi, and pork. The first thing I noticed about this bowl was the color and texture of the broth. The broth was so rich that the consistency seemed thicker than water. The soup was amazingly flavorful; each spoonful of ramen broth was akin to drinking some sort of savory pork consume that embodied the essence of pork flavor. While the toppings were appreciated, they were really there more to provide some textural contrast as the star of the dish was easily the broth.
If I had a small complaint, it was that the noodles were thinner than I am used to. I'm probably cultured to having the wrong type of thick ramen alkaline noodles, but the noodles that accompanied this bowl were so thing that they reminded me of somen. While the noodles themselves were quite good, it was just a bit of a shock to me.
With my first taste of the ramen with the tsukemen broth, my mouth experienced an explosion of flavor. Not only did I get all the pork flavor, but I got an underlying seafood complexity that was the fish broth flavor. The combination of these flavors was so good that it almost induced me to cry with happiness. I have to agree with Jonathan Gold that the experience was life-changing. I also agree that the dish is centered entirely around the broth and that the noodles are simply there for textural contrast while the pork ensures that you stay full after consuming the meal.
Conclusion:I set out to find the best ramen in Southern California, and I dare to say that I did find it. Not only was Tsujita the best ramen I've had outside of Japan, it beats many of the places I visited in Japan as well.
For having such good ramen, Tsujita is awarded the megabit award (the first recipient too)!