The ramen I had last night was amazing! I went on a ramen run with my cousin, Michelle, after some galavanting in downtown LA. But before I get to the ramen, check out these cool places we went to!
I love the buildings in LA
This is art
More buildings. I wouldn’t mind living in one of these lofts!
At the Grand Central Marketplace
I’m very curious about the ramen at this shop in the market place. Next time…
If you don’t feel like walking up the hills of LA, take the Angel’s Flight!
I love how the buildings look at night
For those who have not explored Downtown LA, I highly recommend that you do. I think most people have the wrong impression of LA. They most likely picture Venice Beach and Hollywood, places that I’m not a big fan of. Downtown LA has a lot of cool places tucked between dingy, old buildings. You just have to know what to look for and find the best ways to get there. There are certain parts you probably should stay away from or at least avoid walking alone late at night, but there are also the nicer areas with cool parks and tons of hole-in-the-walls to eat. The Angel Flight helped us avoid the dirty, sketchy areas that we first walked through.
After our little LA tour, we headed to Kotoya Japanese Ramen, a fairly new restaurant in West LA. It is located on Santa Monica Blvd, between Bundy Dr. and Barrington Ave, with free parking in a small shopping complex. The place was actually recommended to me by a college buddy, Max. He, too, is a ramen junkie!
Kotoya Japanese Ramen. Sorry for the blurry shot!
It was about 7 pm when we arrived and the place was not that busy. The server tried to seat us at a table but we asked to be seated at the bar. I always prefer to sit at the bar anyway so I can see what goes on in the kitchen. Their kitchen, by the way, was immaculate! The restaurant itself had a pretty hip and modern vibe and I thought the decor was very tasteful. If you ever use their restroom, it was interesting where they placed their extra rolls of toilet paper!
Cool wooden wall decor!
Very clean kitchen!
Their ramen menu had two types of ramen. Both of them have tonkotsu broth: the White Ramen with the choice of Miso, Shio (salt) and Shoyu (soy sauce) flavors, and the Red Ramen with the choice of Level 1, 2 or 3 of spiciness. You can also choose if you want a half boiled egg or a hard boiled egg. Michelle ordered the Level 2 Red Ramen with a half boiled egg and I ordered the White Ramen with Miso and a hard boiled egg, and requested the bamboo to be removed.
My ramen was amazing. It was quite unique from the other ramens I’ve had before. The broth was mouth-watering! It was very rich in flavor with a thicker texture but had just the right amount of oil. I was able to taste both layers of tonkotsu and miso flavors. Most places that I’ve ordered the miso flavor, I felt that the miso would overpower the broth. The noodles were nice and chewy, although I prefer my noodles hard. The noodles also had a good flavor. The chashu was awesome! It was so tender, it melted in your mouth! The flavor was amazing. Apparently, they braise the chashu for 4 hours. It was probably the best chashu I’ve ever had! I also enjoyed the seaweed that was served with the ramen, it gave it a nice touch of flavor.
Michelle loved her ramen. She said it was probably the best ramen place I’ve taken her to so far. I had a taste of her broth and I have to say that I prefer Kotoya’s spicy ramen over Orochon. The broth was just as delicious, with the flavor and the texture, and it was nicely spiced. If that made sense… It wasn’t so spiced up that you couldn’t taste the tonkotsu. The broth had a nice balance between heat spiciness and tonkotsu flavor. Michelle couldn’t finish her ramen so I ate a little of what she had left. Her ramen also had cabbage in it and was a perfect addition to the spicy broth. I also had a taste of her half boiled egg and it was awesome. I wish I had ordered that instead!
Michelle’s Red Ramen
My White Ramen Miso Flavor with hard-boiled egg
The only complaint I could make was that I requested to have the bamboo removed but they didn’t do it. Not a big deal though, as it happened quite often to me before. So I just gave Michelle my bamboo, who happened to like bamboo. I did give bamboo another try just because Michelle wanted to know why I didn’t like it. Sorry, but I still don’t like bamboo!
The service was not too bad. The server took our orders right away and the ramen made its way to our table fairly quick. All the servers were very friendly as well!
Like I said, I definitely plan to go back soon. I would like to order their Red Ramen the next time I go. Maybe go for the Level 3. Thanks Max, for the recommendation!
You’re probably wondering why the title of this blog was, “Surprise Birthday Ramen.” Well, I didn’t know that it was Michelle’s birthday yesterday!!! I mean, I knew it was sometime this week but I kept getting the dates confused. She finally announced it when her roommate told us that her mom called to say, “happy birthday.” I was surprised that she didn’t tell me considering we had hung out all night! We ended the evening with a few rounds of Gentleman Jack at her place. Happy birthday Michelle!
Thanks for reading!