Sunday, January 31, 2010
Battle of the Ramen
I searched high and low. I researched online for hours. I got got some friends together and I was ready to document everything for this Battle of the Ramen post. As you can tell, I take my job seriously. Seriously. Let's start with the winner for most amazing ramen. And the first prize goes to Hakata Ramen Shin-Sen-Gumi. They have multiple stores, but I went to the one in Rosemead located 8450 East Valley Blvd. Rosemead, 91770. I swear I've been to this plaza a gazillion times and have never noticed this place until now. Hakata is awesome. Too bad it's only open until 11 PM. We got here the other day around 10 and didn't have to wait. Our waiter was a white guy who spoke perfect Japanese. I loved it cause it was a slap in the face to my super Japanese-looking but can't speak any Japanese at all boyfriend. There's nothing special about their decor so don't come here expecting anything more than an awesome open kitchen and a chair. There's 2 small tables in the back where you can sit on the floor but other than that there's just a few tables and seats at the bar.
And look at their kitchen view! Amazing! This is basically an assembly line of noodles hanging from above. That's how they maximize their efficiency. The waiter asks what kind of noodles you would like: Soft, Medium, Hard. Then you choose how oily you want your soup and how strong you want it. I, being the unhealthy person that I am ordered the Hakata Special with Medium Noodles & very strong soup and oily! Bring it on! Jeff got Spicy Miso soup with soft noodles and medium oily. Our friend Ken got the same thing as Jeff. He wasn't hungry when he sat down or so he said...
Yummy. Here's my order on the left. It was delicious. So delicious I threw down .95 cents for another bowl of noodles but this time I got soft noodles instead. I liked the medium noodles but I REALLY REALLY liked the soft noodles.
This is a picture of what Ken and Jeff ordered: Spicy Miso Ramen. It looks the same as what I got until you add this patch of miso goodness and mix it all inside. Amazing. Don't tell them but I liked the spicy miso more than my regular ramen. Ken said he wasn't hungry. After having one taste of their spicy miso, his stomach was suddenly ready for more. Jeff had 3 whole bowls of ramen. He later felt so full that he tried to make himself yack in the parking lot to no avail. Yes, it was that good!
My only complaint about Hakata aside from there not being one much closer to me is that their additional items were too pricy. For example if you want more pork in your ramen, it made more sense to order another bowl for .95 cents rather than paying the amount for a few more slices of pork. One more complaint was that the waiters and the chef all greet and de-greet all the customers walking in, paying, or leaving. They are always eyeing everyone in the restaurant with the corner of their eyes no matter what they are doing and will occasionally will not forget what you are telling them. No worries though, their ramen makes up for it! Plus, they have really good service. Try finding that in the SGV!
2nd Place Awesome Ramen Award goes to Daikokuya in Little Tokyo, Downtown L.A. located at 327 East 1st Street, Los Angeles 90012. I went here with my besties and absolute favorite people to eat with because Daikokuya is supposedly the "it" place for the best ramen. Okay they need to seriously stop kidding themselves. Their ramen isn't bad. It doesn't compare to Hakata's. Their waits are insane but at least they are open until 1 AM. Their decor is really cute though. They have old Japanese advertisements as decorations. My sister would love them. She likes collecting old Hong Kong advertisements.
Their ramen came with the egg that was perfectly cooked. I like when ramen places make their eggs right where the inside is still squishy and kind of raw. A good thing about Daikokuya is that they allow you to order half portions for their ramen. Whatever... Hakata is so good that I don't need half portions. Take that! Unfortunately, they only had pork as their soup base and didn't have a vegetarian option since my besties can't eat pork. I was really sad that we waited for an hour risking our lives and Weheb's car to find out they couldn't eat the ramen. (No joke the parking lot we parked in said pay and lock up.) We were afraid, very afraid.
So sad as they were, Weheb & Rna had to order something else. Here's their miso & salad that came with their combinations and the right is my Ramune Soda. The salad basically tasted like cold slaw so minus points for that since I don't like cold slaw. Ramune soda is my favorite. I call it Marble Water in Chinese because you have to pop the top of the drink and release the marble to drink it. I use to break these bottles as a kid to collect the marble. Dangerous and dumb yeah I know. I wasn't the brightest kid. I was thinking free marble! Anyways Ramune soda is really good. It even comes in different flavors. This is the original flavor. It tastes like a better version of sprite.
So we were really sad that my besties couldn't have ramen, but they got to have some of Daikokuya's famous teriyaki chicken. Their chicken logo is "Forget about what the Colonel told you, this is chicken Little Tokyo style." And their chicken teriyaki was pretty good. Left is the chicken teri in a rice bowl and right is it in a bento box. The spicy tuna and tempura that came with it in the bento wasn't impressive. The chicken skin was very crispy. It wasn't the same skin they use for Katsu. All in all, although I would go back to Daikokuya for their chicken, I wouldn't go back for their ramen. They definitely need to bring their game up.
Loser Prize: Ajisen Ramen. They are located all over SGV and although they aren't bad but if you are in the area, why not head over to Hakata?
Here's their ramen special. It was "good". I felt like I picked up a really good package of ramen from my cabinet and added some meat from a Chinese restaurant and cooked it myself. Don't expect too great service from here. It really depends on their moods. Menopause, say what?
So basically Hakata is my favorite places hands down. My aunt has informed me though that there is an even better ramen place in Irvine. Apparently Ajisen Ramen is a franchise so every store has a different owner. Apparently the Ajisen in Irvine in the 85C parking lot has better ramen than even Hakata. I will have to do some research to see.
Until then, Happy Eatings!