Restaurant: Daikokuya Santa Monica
Location: 2208 Sawtelle Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90064. (310) 575-4999
Date: October 13, 2014
Cuisine: Japanese Ramen
Rating: First rate noodles
In LA (and possibly elsewhere), ramen has just exploded. It’s gone from this obscure specialty and grad student food to multiple streets with multiple ramen joints each with hour long lines!
Sawtelle is the undisputed Asian lunch spot on the Westside and Daikokuya, despite being “below Olympic,” slumming with the likes of Starbucks and Panda Express, always has a long line.
Inside it’s Tokyo kitch, but cute for sure. The menu is simple, with just 3 main ramen types (normal, spicy miso, and dipping noodle) and a bunch of bowls.
The table has the usual accents: pickled ginger, garlic, ground pepper.
Cabbage salad. This will set you back $1. Tasty enough, but needed more dressing.
Gyoza. The classic pork and cabbage dumpling, pan fried. Seriously fried in this case. Plenty of green onion. These were good. Quite good.
Daikoku Ramen. The classic pork broth Hakataka ramen. Fatty pork. Bamboo shoots. Bean sprouts. Green onion.
You can see all the usual ingredients. Egg. I added garlic and pickled red ginger. A nicely done classic ramen. Not quite as flavorful as the spicy miso below, but with good salty yum.
Spicy miso ramen. This variant on the straight up classic has all the works inside, the green onion, the bork belly cuts, the sprouts, the special egg, etc. The sauce is like miso soup with a bit of kick. It’s not super spicy, but just about right. The heat, salt, and spice add up and do clear the sinuses.
The noodles are thin and nicely al dente. I jazzed it up with ginger and garlic. A lot of garlic.
The broth is pretty delicious. Rich, but not mega rich like Tsujita (more on that later). I really wanted to keep drinking after I picked out all the bits, but I knew that if I did, the salt (and perhaps garlic) factor would really hit me later. As it was I developed a fairly serious case of heartburn (not unexpected, but worth it).
Overall, this was some solid and traditional ramen. Very good. I need to try the regular one and the dipping noodles. I doubt the latter is as good as at Tsujita, it would be hard to remember, but the regular and miso ramen are different beasts, not neccesarily better or worse, just a bit different.