The Chosen Ramen Dethroned

There comes a time when things you do with the sig. other’s parents convey a special bond between you and them.  Maybe it’s the first time you hug.  Perhaps it’s that first time his mom asks you if you gained weight.  Last night, though, a pinnacle was definitely meeting them to eat ramen. 

While a nice steak dinner is unfailingly impressive, there’s inevitably an air of formality to it because really, Who won’t come out to eat filet mignon or prime rib?  There is an event made out of it because someone is shelling out a decent amount of money so that everyone can eat cow and mashed potatoes.  Eating ramen together, though, is like gathering to eat folk food.  The camaraderie over simple food isn’t easily replicated.  As Rameniac puts it, we “went noodling.”

I’ve realized that it takes me overnight to decide how much I really liked what I had to eat the night, before–especially if it was my first time eating it.  I figure it gives the flavors time to actually sit there and sink into my tastebuds.  It was that way the morning after my first time eating yakitori at Yakitoriya.  It was as if I hadn’t even known it tasted that good at that time–and I realized only the following morning that I wanted to remember the taste of that delicious Bincho charcoal permeating my food.  I had thought, “Wow, that was really good.”

As Americans inexperienced in the art of “noodling,” our hands-down favorite ramen in the world for many months now has been Shin-sen-gumi.  It has been a tradition for awhile now; I would estimate we have eaten Shin-sen-gumi ramen on average at least once every two weeks.  And so we met his parents there.

Hakata pork ramen at Shin-sen-gumi, Rosemead

It was delicious as usual.  Tasty.  The noodles were fresh and that familiar soft texture. 

Until I had my atypical morning foodie epiphany, that is.  I was shocked, actually, with the realization that last night, I had not experienced the same fuzzy feeling when I tasted that extra-delicious pork broth at this familiar venue.  Where had they gone wrong?  What could have happened with my rich broth and soft curly noodles?  And then I realized that it could only be one thing.

I had tasted ramen from Santouka.

Santouka Shio Ramen

Santouka, which is located in the Mitsuwa Japanese Market food court (West LA and Torrance), was even better.  Perish the thought that the Shin-sen-gumi have been dethroned.  Alas, it was true.  The shio broth ramen at Santouka, recommended by my friend J and the Rameniac himself, was indeed even more flavorful.  Also interesting to note, the noodles are firmer here as Rameniac has enlightened me that Santouka ramen,  from the north part of Japan, is actually a whole different type of ramen from the Hakata kind Shin-sen-gumi offers, which is softer.  Clearly, when it comes to ramen, I have a lot to learn!

And it’s just as well.  The best ramen from my location remains on the West Side–just not in the Sawtelle-Olympic district like one would expect. 


Ramen Places (favorite to least):

Santouka Ramen
(inside Mitsuwa)
3760 Centinela Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90066
Warning: Typically closes at 7:30 pm!!

Shin-sen-gumi Hakata Ramen
8450 E. Valley Blvd.
San Gabriel, CA 91770

Chabuya (L.A. Times)
2002 Sawtelle Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025

11555 Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90064
310-575-9337 (closed Wed’s)

Asahi Ramen
2027 Sawtelle Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025

314 E. 2nd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Ajisen Ramen
227 W. Valley Blvd.
San Gabriel, CA 91776

Also mentioned:

11301 Olympic Blvd., Ste. 101
Los Angeles, CA 90064