Ahhh, ramen...one of life's great pleasures. But there's so many different kinds! There's shōyu (soy sauce based), shio (salt based), miso, and what I consider king, tonkotsu. Tonkotsu is the rich, milky soup that is made by boiling pork bones for hours. This is exactly why my favorite ramen place is Daikokuya. Daikokuya specializes in this heavenly ramen and the long wait testifies to its greatness. In fact, while I was eating at the bar, I overheard a woman next to me that came from hours away in Northern California. That's right, just for Daikokuya.
After waiting for a good 45 minutes, we entered the small restaurant and were seated at the bar (the small size of the restaurant definitely contributes to the wait times). Without thinking we all placed our orders. I got the ramen combination with the shredded pork bowl while my sister and cousin (check his brand new blog!) got the combos with tuna sashimi bowls.
Soon after placing orders, we got our salad. It may just look like some cabbage with dressing and masago, but it's a lot more than that. The dressing has a very full-bodied, almost meaty flavor. It's hard to describe, but we all loved it. It was the perfect way to start the meal.
Just look at how sexy that tuna looks. I don't know if words are necessary here. I didn't try it, so I really can't use words, but wow.
My pork bowl was just as good as that tuna looks. The pork is tender and full of flavor, the sauce heightens the flavor experience, and the ginger cuts through the rich flavors.
Before we get to the ramen, let's take a moment and observe the proper way to eat it.
Here's an excerpt from the 1985 movie, Tampopo featuring the Ramen Master. Now that we are properly educated...
The noodles are perfectly cooked, just enough bite without being firm. The pork is fatty and melts in your mouth. The soy boiled egg has a yolk that straddles the border between runny and solid. The bean spouts offer excellent textural contrast to everything else. The soup, oh the soup. Someone save me, I'm salivating at my screen. It's everything that you want your ramen soup to be. Flavorful but not overly salty, rich without making you sick, and creamy. Creamy? Yes. That's probably my favorite aspect of the tonkotsu broth. I'm going to have to stop here, I'm having withdrawls.
Does your favorite ramen cause such strong feelings? Probably not. If you've never had a taste of glory, be sure to stop at Daikokuya. There are several locations, but my favorite is the one in Little Tokyo. My other recommendations here are the gyoza, the pork fried rice, and the kotteri, or extra back fat, in the ramen. One comment on the kotteri option, it's delicious, but too much of it can be a bit overwhelming. I've only had it once, but definitely try it out for yourself. Really, anything you get here will be good.
Daikokuya 327 E 1st St Los Angeles, CA 90012 (213) 626-1680 www.daikoku-ten.com