Sunday, April 15, 2012

Asahi Ramen in Los Angeles


I was a little unsure how to approach a ramen adventure in my old home of Los Angeles. The city has an established ramen scene, with pockets of Japanese enclaves dotting the area. But time was limited. I'd rather reconnect with old friends at a leisurely craft beer bar than a hectic ramen shop. Sure, the facebook page yielded a lot of recommendations, like Yamadaya and Sinsengumi, and I wish I had more time (and a car!).

The two that I was most interested in, newly opened IKEMEN and Tsujita LA, will be mentioned in due time.


So how did I end up at Asahi Ramen? Did I consult the internet? Yelp tends to like this place. Yelp also tends to judge ramen shops solely on wait time and whether they take credit cards. Thirty minute wait and cash only! Zero stars! Did I consult the real experts? Keizo from GO RAMEN! finds that just uttering the shop's name is a waste of oxygen. The Rameniac's review isn't any better; "dry, stiff chashu, pre-boiled non-marinated eggs, and a healthy sprinkling of ugh."

The simple reason was that my cousin wanted to take me here. How bad could it be?


This is how I left the bowl after one sip of soup and one slurp of noodles. My first bowl of ramen in America wasn't just a let-down, it was a shock to the system. The lack of taste, any taste, and words escape me. How do you review a bowl of piping-hot dishwater? At least it was hot.


Yes, critically renowned Tsujita LA is less than 100 meters away from here. You should probably go there.

Apparently, this place used to be good, but they flipped ownership a few times in recent years.



Wait, Tsujita LA? To be honest, I didn't really want to go there. I've heard nothing but positive reviews. Praise upon praise for the masterful noodles; noodles made just the way they are made at Tsujita's shop in Tokyo. And that's why I didn't go. Should I spend a precious meal just so I can confirm what everyone else already said? Not this time around. Also, I emailed Tsujita-san before the trip, asking if I could come in for an interview, but he never wrote me back.


heller66 said...

Asahi Ramen has been around since the 1980's and is probably the first "real" ramen place most Angelenos went to, at least until the past few years. So people like me remember it with fondness, even if it isn't actually good and probably never was. My sense is they serve up something that might have been authentic but mediocre Tokyo shoyu ramen 30 years ago, and haven't bothered to change with the times. In fairness most of the old ramen shops in LA like Mr. Ramen in Little Tokyo and Kinchans also on Sawtelle were (are?) much worse.

pudgym29 said...

When I was in southern California in June 2011, I printed out Keizo's "Best of 2008" article from Go Ramen! I also queried him if he thought those stands near the top would still be near the top.
I wound up having ramen nearly every day in the southland [i.e.: Los Angeles - but mostly the South Bay], and I thought the best bowl I had was one of the first, Hakata Ramen Shinsengumi in Gardena.
If you're still in the southland, Brian, do give it a shot. Yes, I link to my review of it on Yelp, but you should notice I haven't written many lately. I've deduced I am not Yelp's targeted demographic audience.
Accept my condolences for being towed to Asahi Ramen. ;=))