It’s a good day for LA’s ramen scene, as legendary Ramen Nagi makes its Southern California debut this summer. The mega chain will open right in Westfield Century City, where ramen noodles, customized bowls, and vivid broths run the show. The restaurant draws long lines in Palo Alto and Santa Clara, where it’s considered one of the Bay Area’s best ramen shops.
Ramen Nagi’s origins started as a roaming pop-up in 2004 in Tokyo after chef Satoshi Ikuta trained in various Hakata shops for over a decade. Here’s the procedure: choose thick or thin noodles made on the premises, then select the broth. Those options include original, gothic squid ink, red king spicy broth, basil green king basil, or special “limited king.” Choose the “chef’s recommendation,” or opt for a customized meal where “strength of flavor,” or “richness in oil” are flavor profiles. If extra garlic, favorite chashu cuts, or vegetables are preferred, they’ve got it. And there’s always heat levels, left entirely up to the diner.
This addition to Century City is a big deal, after the food court accepted Ajisen Ramen’s middling tenure for years. Instead, the Westside mall earns one of the top ramen restaurants with credibility from Japan. It should also provide a hefty challenge to Tsujita’s relative dominance in nearby Sawtelle Japantown. Ramen Nagi owns nearly 40 locations throughout the planet, mostly Greater China, Japan and Southeast Asia. In mid-2018, the chain opened its first U.S. outpost in Palo Alto, and Santa Clara six months later.