122017May

Dipping Those Chewy Ramen Noodles

2pm. That’s about the perfect time, for those who hate waiting, to arrive at Tsujita LA Artisan Noodles Annex. This was of course an additional restaurant to the one across the street. However, at this time, the original location incurred a lower health score, so I decided to try the annexed location. There was a small line at 1:30pm which cleared up after I finished lunch. And by cleared up, I meant no lines, and several open tables.

Inside, the majority of the place is dedicated to the ramen bar that surrounds the noodle chef with some individual tables off to the front of the store. At the bar, you can watch the masters in action and see how those heaping bowls of ramen are prepared. They are quite the sight – very Instagram worthy. I wish I had ordered one, but the day was a little too warm. So the final choice was the tsukemen, dipping ramen, with an additional small rice bowl. Yeah, I was very hungry. Sitting at the bar, watching things get prepared and carted off was brutal. Though, the wait wasn’t too long. That’s because when you’re the next party to come in, they will take your order outside. By the time you’re seated, all you’re doing is getting a nice cold beverage to cool you off from that LA heat.

Man I love ramen places that are this efficient.

Tsujita LA Artisan Noodles Annex

2050 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
+1 (310) 231-0222
tsujita-la.com

Verdict: Want honest to goodness noodles, then get yourself here.

302015Dec

Toki Underground

Every major city has seen an influx of ramen restaurants. Washington D.C. was no different. However, in 2012, Toki Underground hit the scene. Not only did they bring ramen, but they brought their creativity along with some new takes on Taiwanese favorites. In my opinion, saying this stuff was fusion really takes away from their creations. It’s more like New Asian in my book. Something you’ll find in Taiwan or Japan, but refined for the critical foodies here in the city.

We showed up for lunch right when it opened and saw a few groups already lining up. Once the door opens you walk upstairs into a place that I’ll describe as hip. You got a good view into the kitchen, a bar, and decor that’s a cross between street art and Anime pop. That’s cool in my book.

There were surprisingly a lot of seats and they were set up bar style. That it, you’re either sitting at the bar where they serve alcohol or along the walls where you sat side by side with everyone. In the middle was the table where the servers hung out. Pretty simple to turn around to flag one of them down. So you can say they were pretty attentive given this layout. I can’t say much about speed since we were about the third order to hit the kitchen and yes, our food came out quick, very quick.

Overall, I think this would be a regular spot for me, especially for dinner, if I lived in the area. But either way, I will be back at some point to try out more bowls.

Toki Underground
1234 H Street NE
Washington, DC 20002
+1 (202) 388-3086
tokiunderground.com

Verdict: Great bowl of ramen that’s full of taste, but don’t leave without trying their fried chicken gua bao.

112014Dec

Ippudo

When I first heard about Ippudo, it wasn’t from my friends in New York raving about some new hot ramen shop. Nor was it during my time in Singapore when my friend suggested it was worth the wait. No, actually, the first time I learned about this place was on the plane. Foreign TV shows were all that was left after I exhausted all of the Hollywood movies. There was this Japanese show dubbed in English where they talked about this shop, now global company. The focus was on the owner’s dedication to making sure each shop was successful. From their signature menu to incorporating local tastes and styles. Like for the U.S. market they incorporated larger portions. Bigger cuts and bigger bowls. Man, we’re viewed as such gluttons and I don’t think I’m helping either. I mean after seeing this place while I was shopping I darted in.

It was late in the afternoon so the rush was gone. I found a seat easily and the service was well, attentive. However, I should mention that a few days later, I went to the one in Central and walked out because of the lack of service. But anyways, back to the Causeway Bay one. The interior was nice. Cushy seats. Plenty of decorations and factoids written around to keep you occupied. Didn’t take too long before my bowl came out. Boy was I a happy little kid. Hakata ramen, you’re alright in my book.

Ippudo
2/F, 8 Russell Street
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
+852 2892-2387
www.ippudo.com.hk

Verdict: Good place and I’ll try the ones other cities.

312014May

Ramen Yamadaya

Not sure how I ended up at this place. It sat on the second floor in the blocked out street of Buchanan. I think it was relatively new, because come on, I’d notice the ramen sign walking by this area on the way to karaoke. Oh so many karaoke memories. “These guilty feet have got no rhythm…” Wait, I digress. Karaoke write up some other time, some other blog. Anyways, this place originated from LA. Known for their tonkatsu ramen, they flourished, opening several shops in Southern California. And now, they have a place up here. Pretty sad I didn’t know anything about it. Both in SoCal or about how they were bringing their magic up here. If I’d known, I’d warn them about the competition. Not so much San Francisco, but NorCal. Yeah buddy. There are good bowls up here once you get you’re head out of your ass on which city has the best ramen. Let’s just focus on the wonderful bowls of heaven.

I got in before lunch so it was easy getting seating. There’s a communal table in the middle so I guess I would have been in good shape if it were lunch time. Brownie points for catering to single eaters. And yes, I hate eating alone. Still glad I didn’t take up a whole table. Service was quick and after my meal, the line outside started to form. Glad to have eaten and run.

Ramen Yamadaya
1728 Buchanan Street
San Francisco, CA 94115
Japantown, Lower Pacific Heights
+1 (415) 359-9983
ramen-yamadaya.com

Verdict: I’ll be back to try out the other bowls.

p.s. – sorry about the bad picture quality. Only had my iPhone.

312013Dec

Ramen Alley Junkie

New Year’s Eve, a time when normal people prepare to bring in the new year. Some get dressed up to the nines, breaking out their top hat and head out to drink. Others stay home and live vicariously through the television. And then there’s me, spending as much time possible in Ramen Alley. Visiting all the noodle pushers to see the latest fix. What’s in this bowl? How about that one? Oh you get both king crab and scallops? I need to change my pants. If I could eat here all day I would, but the shops start opening up around 11am. I know this because even if the place looked open, we were instantly ushered out when we walked in. Damn it, we had to actually wait for lunch time. I wanted my crack bad. Well, after wasting time for a couple hours, we came back with one goal, eat the hell out of this alley. I’ll post pictures of the places here because the Japanese pinyin signs are tiny and hard to find.

Teshikaga

P1130357

Verdict: The winner of all the ramen shops on this trip.

This place was crowded yesterday, and even as we waited for it to open, there was a line forming for it. In Asia, lines are good. This place was no exception. The owner showcased his popular ramen, which did not disappoint one bit. When I was done I was ready to slip into a food coma. My buddy held off eating because we were headed back here in a couple hours. What? Don’t you worry, I’ll eat again. And I did, the place across the way.

Kumakichi

P1130372

Verdict: Not too shabby, but even if the line at the ramen places, I’ll try a different shop.

So as my buddy caught up on Teshikaga, which he certified was a great place, I was over here. It was full before and by the time I showed up, there were a few seats available. Given that I haven’t truly had Hokkaido ramen. You know, the butter and corn stuff. I went with their Hokkaido special, because with a name like that, I can’t go wrong. Unfortunately, it wasn’t all that. But the place was good. Things were fried up in the wok and served fresh in my bowl. Still trying to get used to that flash fry thing they have going on. Good, but how do I explain this to the folks back home. I guess a video will have to do.

At this point it we were full. What to do but to celebrate the new year. Back to Rad Brothers. Sure it was a bit expat’ish. But I didn’t want to feel out of place or sit at a bar where we couldn’t talk to anyone. Glad we went back, because I learned something new there. For the New Year’s celebration, they had a barrel of sake. A barrel that they’ll ladle to patrons when the clock hits midnight. Yeah, you let the bartender pour it down your face as a celebratory right of passage. How else would you have it? That was quite a bit of sake. As the night weaned away and my unconscious nudging me to get something other than alcohol in my stomach, it was off to find more ramen. No bueno for Ramen Alley. Shops had closed up early. Actually, it seemed like everything was closed. Was it because it was now officially new year’s day or was 1am closing time. I’ll never know.

There was hope though. We saw a shop on the corner that was open and I saw ramen.

Man Ryu

<sorry, no photo of the place. blame my drunkenness>

Verdict: Not recommended.

Yeah, this was a late night place catering us drunk fools. So quality wasn’t the main goal. It was food fast and food salty for you to chug more water. Sober up and get the hell out. We did just that. I don’t remember how my friend got takoyaki, but he did. Fuzzy memories are failing me. Man, I need to cut back on drinking. I’ll save that for the new year. Happy two thousand f#$king fourteen.

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