Is it ever ramen weather in Los Angeles? Not like I really need an excuse. Here are two ramen chains in L.A. to get your slurp on.
Shin Sen Gumi Hakata Ramen
Shin-Sen-Gumi is a chain from Japan offering a specific style of ramen from Hakata— with a lot of flexibility to add ingredients and meet your preferences. Expect thinner noodles, a rich milky broth, and a few toppings: chopped scallions, pickled ginger and sesame seeds. When you order you can choose to add more toppings and select the firmness of the noodles, the strength of the soup base, and the oil level. We added spinach, soft seaweed, an egg and fried onions, with firm noodles (I like my noodles resilient). Definitely play with the chili oil and vinegar condiments sitting on the table.
There are a number of locations in the L.A. area, we went to the one in West L.A. The space is bright, with painted brick walls and a bar right outside the kitchen windows. When we came on a Sunday night around 7:30 there was a 20 minute wait but the hostess handed us an order form while we were waiting, which sped things along. Our starter, fried potato rice cakes with cheese and cod roe inside called potemochi, came out quick and went nicely with a cold beer. A regular ramen is $6.95, with each extra toppings from $1 to $3. Note the happy hour: $1 Kirin beers 2-5 pm Mon through Thurs.
Modan Artisanal Ramen
Traditionalists will probably roll their eyes at the crispy kale toppings at this little LA chain but don’t knock it til you try it. The tonkotsu broth here doesn’t have as much depth as I wanted but it had some good flavor. There are just a few types of ramen and we tried two. The spicy ramen isn’t harsh but it lingered nicely and the black ramen’s roasted garlic played with the truffle oil nicely. Decor is minimalist, comfortable, and etsy-hipster: mason jars, edison lightbulbs, chalkboards, mis-match wood, you know it well. Plenty of non-ramen bites here including poke bowls, rolls, seaweed salad, and their signature brussels sprouts. I loved the green iced tea. Ramen runs about $9. Locations in South Pasadena and Eagle Rock.