With temperatures rarely dropping below 60°F, the climate of Los Angeles never quite qualifies as “soup weather.” Nonetheless, the City of Angels is home to multinational ethnicities and with that comes great food. One of which is Japanese ramen. And you don’t have to trek to Little Tokyo to find it. Scattered across the city are plentiful destinations to get your slurp on. Below, you’ll find our favorites.
(Disclaimer: you may be asking yourself, “Why aren’t these ranked?” “Which spot is L.A.’s king of ramen?” We didn’t choose a winner; every spot on the list is slurptacular. And, let’s be honest, anything is better than cooking Top Ramen your dorm room.)
Don’t let the food court fool you. Located in Santa Monica’s Mitsuwa Marketplace, Santouka is one of many exotic Japanese eateries but it undoubtedly the most popular. The broth takes 20 hours to simmer a mixture of pork bones, dried fish, vegetables and a slew of secret seasoning. And with many different varieties—salt flavor, miso, spicy miso and shoyu—Santouka has something for everyone. Don’t forget to pick up some traditional Japanese candies in the supermarket on your way out! (3760 S. Centinela Avenue Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066)
Some like it hot and for those that do, Orochon is the spot. Orochon Ramen in Little Tokyo is perhaps most famous for its television debut when Adam Richman, of Travel Channel’s “Man v. Food,” attempted (and succeeded) at downing the Special Number 2. Those who finish the bowl of fiery death in the time allotted get their picture up on the wall. Those who don’t, walk away while rubbing their belly in despair. Apart from boasting insane spice, Orochon also offers top-notch ramen with a diverse selection of toppings—mushrooms, egg, bamboo shoots and even jalapeno. (123 Astronaut E S Onizuka St, Los Angeles, CA 90012)
Nestled in the heart of Hipsterville, USA, Silverlake Ramen is garnering some much-deserved attention (to the dismay of the nonconformist locals). The tiny shop is bustling during lunch hours with hungry locals and out-of-towners making the trip for a piping hot bowl of ramen. One aspect that sets this slurp shop apart from the rest is the seared edges of pork belly. Typically, the extra fatty portion of pig comes soft, but at Silverlake, it’s all about that scorched outer layer. On top of scrumptious ramen, Silverlake serves up gyoza, sushi and pork buns. Just make sure to get there before it becomes too mainstream. (2817 W Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026)
Forget Taco Tuesdays. At Venice Beach’s Barnyard, Tuesdays are all about the ramen. Whoever said, “Good things come to those who wait,” was totally right because Barnyard only serves up ramen one day a week. And though it’s simple, it certainly does the trick. The Westside fancy-schmancy eatery has a rotating menu of variations on ramen, like shoyu-scallop broth. And for sides, order up pickles, pork neck or onigri (those cute, triangle-shaped wads of rice). (1715 Pacific Ave., Venice, CA 90291)
With “No Ramen, No Life” as their motto, Ikemen takes their soup seriously. But once the waiter delivers your dish, you might be surprised. At Ikemen, they do things a little differently. Ever finish your noodles or meat before your broth? They’ve solved that problem. By serving the noodles, meat and broth separately, Ikemen is the ramen answer to having it your way. They call it “dip ramen” but it has nothing to do with au jus sauce or tobacco (thank god). And they also offer some exotic extras like Italian basil soup base and zebra garlic seasoning. (1655 N. La Brea Ave, Hollywood, CA 90028)
If we didn’t put this ramen stalwart on our list, it’s likely the Yakuza would come after us. The house special is the Daikokuya Ramen—cheaply priced, seriously satisfying. It features tokotsu broth (pork bone based) native to Japan’s Kyushu and Hokkaido provinces. From then on, it’s all traditional—pork belly, egg noodle, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts and boiled egg. It’s like mom’s chicken noodle soup but with a "Land of the Rising Sun" twist. (327 E 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012)