Sunday, November 15, 2020

粋 (IKI RAMEN in Los Angeles, California, USA)


February 2020. Word of the obscure bird flu in Asia was barely a talking point in the west. Ramen Adventures was busy planning an eventful 2020. A bi-coastal popup ramen event. Truffle hunting in France followed by making an original truffle ramen. Motorcycle touring around eastern Europe in search of the few ramen shops in that part of the world. I had some massive ramen tours lined up, had started writing for a travel magazine, and was almost ready to launch some new projects. It was going to be a good year.

It was a simple time. A friend invited me to join halfway down Baja California for whale watching. A nice start to the year.

Nice natural wine from Tecate, Mexico.

This is down in Guerrero Negro. The grey whales spend their summers up in Alaska and winters down here giving birth. I could write a lot about this, but I will keep it brief. This is still a ramen blog. Put Guerrero Negro on your radar though. Late winter and you can encounter baby whales alongside their mothers. It's truly excellent.

You know what else was excellent? Iki Ramen in Los Angeles!

I have more friends in Los Angeles than in any other American city, so I always try and stay a few days. And though I miss American food greatly, I gotta hit the recommended ramen shops.

Iki Ramen was impressive. Their menu is quite extensive, with around a dozen different ramen dishes alongside rice bowls and sushi rolls. In the past, this was a red flag for me, but it's time to realize that it's possible to make good ramen in a shop that isn't a senmonten, or specialty shop.

We tried the standard shio ramen, which comes with nice fatty chashu using Niman Ranch pork.

Also went with the uni mazemen. Flat noodles with sea urchin, seasoned ikura salmon roe, and some chopped nori seaweed. Their website says they put some aromatic truffle oil in as well, but luckily I couldn't taste it. This was a tasty mess, and I'd suggest if you come with a group get one of these to share on the side. They also offer make-at-home mazemen kits, of which I approve of. 

Iki has a rather impressive list of Japanese craft beer and sake on the menu. Though I don't like to drink with soup ramen, snacks and mazemen are good booze food.

This being America, the menu has vegetarian options as well.

Thanks for joining me Abby! We worked together back in Japan where she also did some voice acting work. Fast forward a few years and she's killing it stateside. Check the IMDb. So cool to see friends of mine succeed in their hustle. 

Thank you chef Hiroyuki Masato. He recognized me and sent over some extras I wouldn't have tried otherwise. The tai yuzu shio ramen is not something I would think to order outside of Japan, but here at Iki it was damn tasty. I don't eat sweets much these days, but the shio koji ice cream was a welcome cheat for me as well. Thank you for your hospitality. 

Official site here.

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1 comment:

Ramen Zac said...

This is also one of the places that I short list for people when they visit LA. I really like their Tai ramen when the mood hits. Ramen Culture had a pop up here, which was fantastic!

Also, double check your embedded map html. It's displaying the underlying html, not the actual map.

Cheers again!