Appointment Eating: Ramen in West LA

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ramenI no longer live in Los Angeles, where I grew up. So, when I return, I want to eat GREAT food (because I can’t get it where I live now). Not just “pretty good” food: I don’t want to waste a meal. I want it to be the kind of meal I can’t get anywhere else.

I found the place.

Last time I was there, my friend Nikki and I waited for a table at Tsujita LA — an artisan noodle shop originally based in Tokyo, its only US store is around the corner from where I used to live in West LA. They don’t take reservations and I’ve passed by the place at 11:30, at 2pm, 5pm — there is always a line. The good news is that the wait was only five minutes when we were there.

Essentially, you get ramen here. Sure, there are a few other dishes: sashimi, a salad — but you come here for the ramen. I ordered the Negi Ramen and it comes in 2 bowls: a bowl of hand made soba noodles with lime wedges and then there is the bowl with the broth — it’s so rich, it’s almost borderline gravy, but it stays on the line of broth especially with a squeeze of lime and clash of noodles. The noodles? Oh, they’re perfect, al dente and divine. Pulitzer-Prize winning author gives a more detailed account here.

This is ramen that comes with directions. Truly: there are directions. See?
ramendirectionsNow, that’s a good thing. The soba noodles get dipped into the broth, they don’t just sit in it. The pork in the broth was delicious, especially augmented by the condiments: spicy mustard greens (heavenly), a sesame seed grinder (bought one across the street afterward, fab idea!) as well as pickled ginger and pork oil for extra unctuous-ness (new word).

Yes, it’s worth the wait. The neighborhood is exploding with interesting stores so you can wander around if your wait is long. I can’t recommend this place enough. And I can’t wait to go back. Note: Ramen is served only at lunch and they accept cash only.

PS: You can always go to Beard Papa across the street when you’re done and get a cream puff made on the spot. So good…

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