Part 3 of 3 from my Los Angeles day trip with my best friend V. Check out Part 1 (in Monterey Park) and Part 2 (in Beverley Grove). We started the day in Monterey Park for breakfast, snacks, and dessert, headed west to the Beverley Grove area for more dessert and finally back tracked a little bit to Little Tokyo for dinner, shopping (and maybe some desserts).
There are quite a few ramen shops popping up everywhere including more then six in San Diego (all with in five miles from each other) and yet, when I really want some good ramen I make a trip to L.A. Little Tokyo. I first heard about Daikokuya back in my college days when my friends were raving about this little ramen shop with back fat in it. Literally that’s what they were referring to it as and technically that’s what it is.
The back fat is called Kotteri (flavor) and can be added to your ramen. That way if the idea of adding extra fat in you noodle is not your thing, you don’t have to have it. It’s not like they pour a bunch of fat in your soup, it is actually a flavor extracted from back fat. My Dad actually prefers his ramen without the Kotteri.
There are four locations all in the Los Angeles area (Little Tokyo, Sewtelle, Arcadia, and Monterey Park), I remember going to a location in South Coast Orange County inside of the Marukai food court but I think it’s closed now (I have also been to the Monterey Park location). The Little Tokyo location is the original first location and my favorite of the locations I’ve been to.
This was V’s first time at Daikokuya in Little Tokyo (She went to the South Coast location with me years ago and it was disappointing) and she was pretty excited since I’m always talking about how much I love this place. We got there at about 6pm and immediately walked to Daikokuya to put our name down. They were calling number 24 out of 50 on page one, and I put my name down as number 18 out of 50 on page two. Then decided to walk around Little Tokyo for some shopping, desserts, and snacks to kill time.
We ended up getting seated at about 8pm, that was a two hour wait and pretty much the amount of time I usually have to wait. We were seated at the bar and done eating and paid by 8:30pm. Like most ramen shops, it’s a small restaurant but people don’t stay too long since service is pretty quick (and ramen is best when it’s still hot).
I ordered the Daikoku Ramen which is their famous tonkotsu soup base, infused with a secret blend of soy sauce topped with a whole marinated egg, kurobuta pork belly chashu, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, green onions, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. I added the kotteri too. I really don’t know how to describe the broth, but it’s flavored perfectly and not too salty (like some ramen broths can be). The soup may be little milky looking with the added Koterri but does not feel or taste very fatty at all.
I am sad report that I was so hungry, that I forgot to take pictures of my ramen BEFORE eating. So just before I finished my ramen, I took a quick picture. I guess I’m just going to have go back and eat more (and remember to take pictures first). And V will have to be there too so that I can get a fresh picture of her bowl as well.
My friend V ordered the Spicy Miso Ramen. They use three different kinds of miso for a more deep taste topped with whole marinated egg, kurobuta pork belly chashu, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, green onions, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. It’s actually not very spicy at all, V added quite a bit of of red chili pepper to make it spicy enough for her taste. I wonder if you can add Kotteri any of their soups? The spicy miso was good but not as good as the Daikoku Ramen. I think I just prefer a meat based (tonkotsu) soup with my ramen.
Sometimes, I wonder if it’s the wait that makes me just really hungry and always making me think this is the best ramen. And if you’re really hungry, make it a combo with a salad and a rice bowl of your choice. I hear their fried rice is really good, but I still haven’t tried it yet (I can barely finish one bowl of ramen).
Daikokuya has been listed as one of the best ramen/noodle places in LA from the the LA Weekly (99 essential restaurants in 2014 and 10 best ramen shops in Los Angeles), Yelp (top 10 US yelp restaurants in 2010 and 2011), etc.
Just a little note, it is some what of a pet peeve for me but ramen is not instant ramen. I’m no connoisseur but they are completely different things! Though I love both.
Other Places we checked out when waiting
Little Tokyo is pretty much in the heart of Los Angeles (I used to walk to Little Tokyo from Union Station as the Metro Gold Line Train was being built) and bound to the area west of Los Angeles Street, East of Alameda Street, on the south by 3rd Street, and on the north by First Street. Now that there is a train stop in Little Tokyo/Arts District) Little Tokyo is now a bustling area to see unlike years before when the area was some what dying out.
We pretty much stayed on First and 2nd Street and shopped in the Japanese Village Plaza which runs between First and 2nd Street. There are quite a few interesting Japanese stores to shop at (and American Apparel which is kind of random though) to kill time. There was even a karaoke thing going in the middle of the plaza that night interestingly.
I made a quick stop at Mitsuru Cafe for a few snacks. I always see a long line/crowd outside and noticed that there wasn’t much of a line this time. As you wait you can watch them make some fresh imagawayaki which is a Japanese griddle cake with red bean paste inside (I think you can get some with cream inside in Taiwan, which I prefer). I got a shrimp ball skewer and a shiumai skewer.
There were a few dessert places I had on my original list: Mikawaya for mochi/mochi gelato and Cafe Dulce for donuts. By the time we got to Little Tokyo, we had already had quite a few desserts and didn’t feel like eating any more desserts but I decided to just get some mochi and donuts to eat later. And I did notice that Cafe Dulce serves the same cold brew coffee as Lady M…just sayin’.
If were were there during the day I would have tried to make my way over to the Japanese American National Museum (there are also quite a few museums in the area), stop by the Hompo Hongwanji Buddhist temple (some what hidden between First and 2nd Street), or walk over to the Arts District on the other side of the metro. You can pretty much stay in the area all day and still not have enough time to see, eat, and do everything.
|Daikokuya (Little Tokyo)
327 E 1st St
Los Angeles, CA 90012 Official Website
|Japanese Village Plaza
335 East 2nd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
134 Japanese Village Plaza Mall
Los Angeles, CA 90012