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A Handy Guide to LA's Best Ramen Shops, Winter 2014

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2008_10_hasmapsramenmap.jpgAfter an initial explosion of ramen shops a few years ago, the second wave of quality has made L.A. one of the hottest markets for ramen in the country. Long-standing favorites such as Daikokuya and Santouka have new competition, but there's still plenty of room to grow in this segment. From dip-ramen tsukemen to pork-infused tonkotsu bowls galore, here's an updated map of L.A.'s best ramen shops.


Added 9/13: Tsujita ANNEX, Beni Tora, Daikokuya (Sawtelle)
Added 1/14: Shin Ya!, Ramen by Omae, Ichiban Ramen, Kanpai Ramen Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Tsujita LA Annex

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2050 Sawtelle Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310) 231-0222
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This all-ramen restaurant from the popular izakaya (and daytime ramen shop), Tsujita, just across the street serves a completely different bowl here, using thick noodles and a dense, porky broth that's chock full of garlic and pork back fat. The dip-able tsukemen, tinged with a vinegary kick, might be even better, with flat noodles that work best for slurping with gusto. Annex serves in a crowded, loud nook of a room until 12 p.m. (the last order is taken at 11:30 p.m.), seven days a week.

2. Tsujita LA

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2057 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310) 231-7373
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Both the standard ramen and tsukemen are the two best offerings in LA in either category. The broth and noodles are nearly perfect (one might argue a tad salty), while the tsukemen might even be better than the ramen. Only available during lunch and cash only, but definitely one of the biggest destinations for ramen in the city.

3. Men Oh Tokushima Ramen

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457 E. 2nd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 687-8485
One of the newer entrants to Little Tokyo's ramen scene, Men Oh might be cursed with a sub-par location that's difficult to find for many. Still, the flavorful broth and acceptable noodles makes it more of a hardcore rameniac's spot. Arguably one of the best bowls this side of the city.

4. Santouka

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3760 S Centinela Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90066
(310) 391-1101
The longstanding ramen spot on the Westside, it hasn't lost too much luster despite most of the new ramen places in the city opening on Sawtelle. The miso and shio ramen are tops here, available in various sizes. The broth is unreal, incredibly porky and delicious. Noodles aren't top notch, but it's forgivable.

5. Daikokuya

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327 E 1st St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 626-1680
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As blue chip as you can get for a ramen joint, Daikokuya has been an anchor in LA's ramen world for a very long time. Despite newcomers in Little Tokyo, it's still has long lines for most of the day. The broth is intense and extremely fatty, though the cheap noodles lessens the overall experience a bit. The fried rice is also worth trying. A sister restaurant is now open on Sawtelle.

6. Ramen Yamadaya

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11172 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90230
(310) 815-8776
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A mini-chain that has opened numerous locations in the past year, Yamadaya boasts a thick, umami-rich tonkotsu broth and thin noodles. The tsukemen broth has a fishy intensity that adds another layer of umami, while the thicker noodles make slurping easier. The quality has dropped off as the spots have expanded, but still one of the better choices on the Westside.

7. Ramen Hayatemaru West LA

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11678 West Olympic Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90025
If there's a place that has even better ramen side dishes than ramen, this might be the place, with stellar gyoza and chicken karaage to go alongside bowls of white miso ramen and tonkotsu ramen that might not steal one away from the likes of Jinya or Tsujita, but are still respectable at this strip mall West L.A. locale.

8. Robata JINYA

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8050 W 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 653-8877
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The full-service restaurant version of Ramen Jinya, there's a more limited ramen here, but it's probably the best bet for this part of town on West 3rd Street. The spicy and regular tonkotsu ramens are the go-to dishes here, with hefty portions that might leave little room for the excellent robata dishes.

9. Jidai-Ya

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18537 South Western Avenue
Gardena, CA 90248
A long trip for most in the city, this ramen offering from the folks behind Torihei (izakaya) has an excellent tsukemen that's pure fish funk (in the best sense of the word) to go along with the intense porkiness. The standard ramen offerings can be slightly inconsistent from bowl to bowl, but when it's good, the tonkotsu is very admirable.

10. Tatsu Ramen

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2123 Sawtelle Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310) 684-2889
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This technologically savvy ramen joint makes diners order via an iPad strapped to the wall, making for a streamlined order for this 21st century comfort food. The noodles and soup are probably just a cut above, with an umami-rich tonkotsu broth that has decent flavor, but not as much depth as the bowls at Tsujita. Consistency varies as well, depending on the quality of the broth, though noodles are steady in flavor. Serves until 2 a.m. most weekdays and 3 a.m. on the weekends.

11. Foo Foo Tei

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15018 Clark Ave.
Hacienda Heights, CA 91745
(626) 937-6585
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This isolated ramen shop in an industrial area has a bit of a reverential feel to it. The varied menu boasts a number of different ramen styles (31 to be exact), but the shio and miso bowls are a good place to start. The lines can be crushing, so get there early or expect to wait.

12. Shin-Sen-Gumi Hakata Ramen

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132 S Central Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 687-7108
Imported from the ramen capital of the world, Southern Japan's Fukuoka, the Hakata-style is one of the most recognizable style of ramen. Shin Sen Gumi opened a branch in Little Tokyo to challenge Daikokuya's dominance. Completely customizable depending on the diner's preference, this loud, raucous dining room will surely remind one of Japan. The broth has been slightly bland of late, and noodles aren't the best, but more than adequate to accommodate a ramen craving.

13. Silver Lake Ramen

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2927 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(323) 660-8100
This Silver Lake ramen-ya serves late into the night in this part of town, with solid tonkotsu and shoyu offerings that might not be better than some of the best spots around town, but work in a pinch for the local hipsters and dive-bar aficionados in Echo Park. The tonkotsu broth is the one to order, with all the fixin's.

14. Gottsui

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2119 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA
(310) 478-0521
Available only during lunch, this beef-broth based ramen is a contender for one of the best in the city. The thick noodles and nearly-clear broth has a balanced flavor that stays addictive to the last bite. Dinner time boasts some of the best okonomiyaki in the city as well.

15. Kotoya Japanese Ramen

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11901 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, ca 90025
This year-old venture from Japanese ramen artist Shinsuke Horinouch, who brought his recipes and techniques from Asagaya, a suburb of Tokyo. The rich broth doesn't overwhelm in fattiness like a tonkotsu, and the noodles are slightly better than average alkaline, but the whole bowl somehow adds up to a delicious umami-bomb thanks to high quality sides and nearly perfect chashu pork slivers.

16. Beni Tora

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21515 South Western Avenue
Torrance, CA 90501
Known for their extra large gyoza, Beni Tora makes some fantastic spicy tan tan men based ramen bowls from the more mild black ramen to the spicy red tan tan men. Try the dry tan tan men for something that's very similar to Chinese-style dan dan mien, but made with ramen noodles.

17. Ramen Iroha

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1740 W. Artesia Blvd.
Gardena, CA 90248
This popular Tokyo ramen chain has set up shop inside the Gardena Marukai market, dishing bowls of chicken-based ramen featuring thick, chewy noodles. There's also soy and spicy ramen, both with mouth-wateringly delicious chashu pork, though some have complained of lackluster service.

18. Ramen Yukinoya

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18230 East Gale Avenue
City of Industry, CA 91748
(626) 581-8420
The styles are typical at this City of Industry ramen joint - tonkotsu, shio, and spicy miso, but the execution is very respectable, with a salty, dense broth that holds up to the thicker, curly noodles that will have locals forgetting about Daikokuya in lower SGV or Downtown. Thick chashu slices and perfectly cooked boiled eggs round out the toppings.

19. Mottainai Ramen

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1630 W Redondo Beach Blvd Ste 9
Gardena, CA 90247
(310) 538-3250
Known more for the flavor bombs of pork fat, garlic and spice, Mottainai has tonkotsu, miso, and soy ramen that doesn't necessarily outshine the competition, but fills in a niche in South Bay. It's for when you want something a little different, a little off-the-cuff in the ramen world.

20. Ramen Jinya

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11239 Ventura Blvd Suite 109
Studio City, CA 91604
(818) 980-3977
Perhaps credited as launching the ramen revolution in LA, this Studio City joint makes a solid bowl with high-quality but pre-made noodles.

21. Fujin Ramen

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1017 S Glendora Ave
West Covina, CA 91790
(626) 814-2020
This West Covina ramen-ya makes near-textbook bowls of Hakata-style ramen, including a fatty, murky tonkotsu broth sporting very thin noodles. Nearly element is well-thought and prepared with care, including the tender chashu and the perfectly cooked egg. Definitely a find for those in this part of town.

22. Daikokuya

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2208 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA
This Westside entrant has already started drawing lines out the door. While the original Little Tokyo shop has been around for years, this ramenya, which took over Jinya, had a rabid following from the start, serving huge bowls of tonkotsu based broth that will be sure to please most people.

23. Ramen By Omae

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14425 Ventura Boulevard
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
(818) 784-8981
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A Michelin starred chef from Japan certainly didn't make a huge splash when he opened a humble ramen shop in the Valley. But the place has been earning accolades from reviewers, with the kogashi or burnt broth, being the bowl to get, flavored with miso and laden with chashu that's been braised for two days.

24. Shin Ya!

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1655 N LA Brea Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90028
Essentially a retooling of the former Ikemen, which spawned a second location in Little Tokyo only to close unceremoniously. Now called Shin Ya!, the ramen here is still mostly dip, or tsukemen, oriented. The premium tonkotsu broth is no longer on the menu, but the Ghost ramen, with thick white broth, remains.

25. Ichiban Ramen

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21605 South Western Avenue
Torrance, CA 90501
(310) 782-6000
After a recent renovation, this unsung ramen shop, which features an extensive izakaya-style menu and a chicken broth as the star of the show. The milky white broth is free of MSG, giving a slightly healthier element to the ramen. Don't miss out on the juicy pork gyoza and other specials like mazeman, a cold noodle dish.

26. Kanpai Ramen

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1023 E Colorado St
Glendale, CA 91205
(818) 956-5550
This newcomer in Glendale is actually a sushi shop that's been retooled to cater to the growing apartment dwellers who've been taking up residence in the city. Ramen is an addition that's been a popular order, with two main types: tonkotsu and tomato ramen, the latter of which almost resembles a pasta. While the broth won't turn heads, it's a satisfying bowl for those looking to stay local on the Eastside.

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1. Tsujita LA Annex

2050 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025
This all-ramen restaurant from the popular izakaya (and daytime ramen shop), Tsujita, just across the street serves a completely different bowl here, using thick noodles and a dense, porky broth that's chock full of garlic and pork back fat. The dip-able tsukemen, tinged with a vinegary kick, might be even better, with flat noodles that work best for slurping with gusto. Annex serves in a crowded, loud nook of a room until 12 p.m. (the last order is taken at 11:30 p.m.), seven days a week.
2050 Sawtelle Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025

2. Tsujita LA

2057 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025
Both the standard ramen and tsukemen are the two best offerings in LA in either category. The broth and noodles are nearly perfect (one might argue a tad salty), while the tsukemen might even be better than the ramen. Only available during lunch and cash only, but definitely one of the biggest destinations for ramen in the city.
2057 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025

3. Men Oh Tokushima Ramen

457 E. 2nd St., Los Angeles, CA 90012
One of the newer entrants to Little Tokyo's ramen scene, Men Oh might be cursed with a sub-par location that's difficult to find for many. Still, the flavorful broth and acceptable noodles makes it more of a hardcore rameniac's spot. Arguably one of the best bowls this side of the city.
457 E. 2nd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

4. Santouka

3760 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066
The longstanding ramen spot on the Westside, it hasn't lost too much luster despite most of the new ramen places in the city opening on Sawtelle. The miso and shio ramen are tops here, available in various sizes. The broth is unreal, incredibly porky and delicious. Noodles aren't top notch, but it's forgivable.
3760 S Centinela Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90066

5. Daikokuya

327 E 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012
As blue chip as you can get for a ramen joint, Daikokuya has been an anchor in LA's ramen world for a very long time. Despite newcomers in Little Tokyo, it's still has long lines for most of the day. The broth is intense and extremely fatty, though the cheap noodles lessens the overall experience a bit. The fried rice is also worth trying. A sister restaurant is now open on Sawtelle.
327 E 1st St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

6. Ramen Yamadaya

11172 Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90230
A mini-chain that has opened numerous locations in the past year, Yamadaya boasts a thick, umami-rich tonkotsu broth and thin noodles. The tsukemen broth has a fishy intensity that adds another layer of umami, while the thicker noodles make slurping easier. The quality has dropped off as the spots have expanded, but still one of the better choices on the Westside.
11172 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90230

7. Ramen Hayatemaru West LA

11678 West Olympic Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90025
If there's a place that has even better ramen side dishes than ramen, this might be the place, with stellar gyoza and chicken karaage to go alongside bowls of white miso ramen and tonkotsu ramen that might not steal one away from the likes of Jinya or Tsujita, but are still respectable at this strip mall West L.A. locale.
11678 West Olympic Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90025

8. Robata JINYA

8050 W 3rd St., Los Angeles, CA 90048
The full-service restaurant version of Ramen Jinya, there's a more limited ramen here, but it's probably the best bet for this part of town on West 3rd Street. The spicy and regular tonkotsu ramens are the go-to dishes here, with hefty portions that might leave little room for the excellent robata dishes.
8050 W 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90048

9. Jidai-Ya

18537 South Western Avenue, Gardena, CA 90248
A long trip for most in the city, this ramen offering from the folks behind Torihei (izakaya) has an excellent tsukemen that's pure fish funk (in the best sense of the word) to go along with the intense porkiness. The standard ramen offerings can be slightly inconsistent from bowl to bowl, but when it's good, the tonkotsu is very admirable.
18537 South Western Avenue
Gardena, CA 90248

10. Tatsu Ramen

2123 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025
This technologically savvy ramen joint makes diners order via an iPad strapped to the wall, making for a streamlined order for this 21st century comfort food. The noodles and soup are probably just a cut above, with an umami-rich tonkotsu broth that has decent flavor, but not as much depth as the bowls at Tsujita. Consistency varies as well, depending on the quality of the broth, though noodles are steady in flavor. Serves until 2 a.m. most weekdays and 3 a.m. on the weekends.
2123 Sawtelle Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025

11. Foo Foo Tei

15018 Clark Ave., Hacienda Heights, CA 91745
This isolated ramen shop in an industrial area has a bit of a reverential feel to it. The varied menu boasts a number of different ramen styles (31 to be exact), but the shio and miso bowls are a good place to start. The lines can be crushing, so get there early or expect to wait.
15018 Clark Ave.
Hacienda Heights, CA 91745

12. Shin-Sen-Gumi Hakata Ramen

132 S Central Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Imported from the ramen capital of the world, Southern Japan's Fukuoka, the Hakata-style is one of the most recognizable style of ramen. Shin Sen Gumi opened a branch in Little Tokyo to challenge Daikokuya's dominance. Completely customizable depending on the diner's preference, this loud, raucous dining room will surely remind one of Japan. The broth has been slightly bland of late, and noodles aren't the best, but more than adequate to accommodate a ramen craving.
132 S Central Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90013

13. Silver Lake Ramen

2927 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026
This Silver Lake ramen-ya serves late into the night in this part of town, with solid tonkotsu and shoyu offerings that might not be better than some of the best spots around town, but work in a pinch for the local hipsters and dive-bar aficionados in Echo Park. The tonkotsu broth is the one to order, with all the fixin's.
2927 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026

14. Gottsui

2119 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
Available only during lunch, this beef-broth based ramen is a contender for one of the best in the city. The thick noodles and nearly-clear broth has a balanced flavor that stays addictive to the last bite. Dinner time boasts some of the best okonomiyaki in the city as well.
2119 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA

15. Kotoya Japanese Ramen

11901 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, ca 90025
This year-old venture from Japanese ramen artist Shinsuke Horinouch, who brought his recipes and techniques from Asagaya, a suburb of Tokyo. The rich broth doesn't overwhelm in fattiness like a tonkotsu, and the noodles are slightly better than average alkaline, but the whole bowl somehow adds up to a delicious umami-bomb thanks to high quality sides and nearly perfect chashu pork slivers.
11901 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, ca 90025

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16. Beni Tora

21515 South Western Avenue, Torrance, CA 90501
Known for their extra large gyoza, Beni Tora makes some fantastic spicy tan tan men based ramen bowls from the more mild black ramen to the spicy red tan tan men. Try the dry tan tan men for something that's very similar to Chinese-style dan dan mien, but made with ramen noodles.
21515 South Western Avenue
Torrance, CA 90501

17. Ramen Iroha

1740 W. Artesia Blvd., Gardena, CA 90248