In the past year, two curry restaurants closed on Sawtelle’s always-busy dining row: Curry House and more recently 33-year-old spot Hurry Curry. In their stead comes Menya Tigre, which takes over the former Menya Musashi, which also closed during the pandemic.
Menya Tigre combines all three of those closures into one new menu that combines Japanese-style curry with ever-popular ramen. Founded by Shinji Osaku (who serves, among other things, chicken karaage and curry at his West LA restaurant Anzu) and chef Daiki Tanaka, Menya Tigre opened about two months ago. Tanaka is a five-year veteran of the ramen business, working at a prominent Sawtelle establishment and also operating a ramen restaurant in San Diego last year before helping to open Menya Tigre.
Osaku and Tanaka decided curry ramen would be the next hot ramen to come to Sawtelle, which already sports the likes of Tsujita, Annex, Tatsu, Killer Noodle, Daikokuya, Shin Sen Gumi, and MoguMogu. It’s not like any of those ramen places are hurting for business, so it seemed like a reasonable gamble in the noodle-rich neighborhood. Curry ramen has origins in Japan around a few restaurants in Hokkaido, while the dish also got a little spotlight in an episode of Netflix’s Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories.
Tigre’s ramen focuses particular on the rich, spicy, almost buttery Japanese-style curry with a base of chicken broth. The bowls come topped with a hefty slice of chashu pork, fresh sprouts, cabbage, green onion, and garlic oil. Optional toppings include standard soft-boiled egg, more chashu, corn, wood ear mushrooms, and nori, while the noodles also come as tsukemen (dip noodle) and a dry-ramen called keema. There’s a sense of innovation here with the LA-style topping of pico de gallo on the keema.
As of a few weeks ago, Tanaka added some curry rice dishes to help fill the gaps left by Hurry Curry and Curry House’s closures. A surf and turf of chicken karaage or pork cutlet, plus fried shrimp, comes with the rich curry sauce, rice, pickled radishes, and a green salad. Of course each of those fried proteins can be parsed out individually for curry rice plates. Side dishes include takoyaki, stir-fried shishito peppers, and three golden brown deep-fried shrimp served with a side of tartar sauce.
Overall the cooking is polished and well-executed at an approachable price point. Sawtelle really didn’t need another ramen spot, but with both curry noodles and curry rice plates on the menu, spice-starved diners can find a bit of the neighborhood’s familiar comforts at Menya Tigre.
Menya Tigre is currently open from Wednesday to Monday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., then from 5 to 9 p.m. Closed on Tuesdays.