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Five Comforting and Complex Ramen Styles to Try In Los Angeles

Within the vast culinary landscape of Los Angeles, there are endless styles, techniques, and regional varieties of ramen available to the hungry Angeleno, from traditional Hakata-style tonkotsu to a shiitake miso-based vegan ramen.

Iki Ramen. Photo by Marina Watanabe for L.A. TACO.

Iki Ramen. Photo by Marina Watanabe for L.A. TACO.

Known for being warm, comforting, and familiar, Westerners often oversimplify the complexity of ramen, assuming the modest noodle dish is just one thing. But even within the vast culinary landscape of Los Angeles, there are endless styles, techniques, and regional varieties of ramen available to the hungry Angeleno. From traditional Hakata-style tonkotsu to a shiitake miso-based vegan ramen, here are five different styles and regional ramen varieties to try in Los Angeles.

Iki Ramen. Photo by Marina Watanabe for L.A. TACO.
Iki Ramen. Photo by Marina Watanabe for L.A. TACO.

Yuzu Shio ~ Iki Ramen ~ Koreatown

Established in 2018, Iki Ramen has quickly become a Koreatown institution. The collaboration between chefs Hiroyuki Masato, Andy Juliady, Sebastian Karyadi, and Jeffry Undiarto (the former manager of two-Michelin-starred n/naka) offers modern updates on familiar classics. If you’re craving something on the lighter side, Iki’s yuzu shio is bright and refreshing. Their soup base is flavored with house-made dashi and chicken broth. The yuzu shio is not too heavy and has a citrusy, smoky kick. It has pork belly, menma (lacto-fermented bamboo shoots), nori, green onions, and a soft-boiled seasoned egg.

740 S Western Ave #115, Los Angeles, CA 90005 (Iki Ramen has a second location in Hollywood) Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 66 or 207 - "Western/8th" or Metro D Line and Bus Lines 18, 20, 210, and 720 - "Wilshire/Western Station."

tsujita_6414
Tsujita Ramen. Photo by Marina Watanabe for L.A. TACO.

Tsukemen ~ Tsujita Artisan Noodle ~ Arts District

Much has been said and written about Tsujita, a ramen shop that originated in Tokyo and spawned several popular locations across Los Angeles and it's usually love at first slurp. Tsukemen is a dipping-style noodle invented in 1961 by Kazuo Yamagishi. Tsujita’s thick and delightfully chewy noodles are served chilled with warm, gravy-like broth and a lime to squeeze over the top. I could pretend that I haven’t been craving Tsujita’s tsukemen since the moment I first tasted it, but I would be lying.

740 E 3rd St Los Angeles, CA 90013. (Tsujita has other locations in Sawtelle and San Gabriel) Closest Metro lines and stop: Metro A and E Lines or Bus Lines 30 and 106 - "Little Tokyo/Arts District Station."

Photo via Shin-Sen-Gumi/Instagram.

Hakata-Style ~ Shin-Sen-Gumi ~ Little Tokyo

Gone are the days when you could score a hearty serving of ramen for under $10, but if you want a bowl that won’t break the bank, Shin-Sen-Gumi in Little Tokyo is famous for its Hakata-style ramen. They use a pork tonkotsu broth that takes three days to prepare and a signature straight, thin noodle. I prefer my ramen on the firmer side, so I appreciate that Shin-Sen-Gumi lets you select the desired firmness of your noodles.

132 S Central Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012. (Shin-Sen-Gumi has other locations in Sawtelle, Gardena, Irvine, Fountain Valley, and Rosemead) Closest Metro lines and stop: Metro A and E Lines or Bus Lines 30 and 106 - "Little Tokyo/Arts District Station."

Ramen Hood.
Ramen Hood. Photo by Marina Watanabe for L.A. TACO.

Vegan Shiitake Miso-Based ~ Ramen Hood ~ Downtown Los Angeles

Vegetarians and vegans often get left out of the ramen conversation, but that doesn’t need to be the case. If you’re downtown, Ramen Hood inside Grand Central Market is an excellent option for vegans and non-vegans alike. The least traditional bowl on the list, Ramen Hood’s broth is made by simmering shiitake mushrooms, kelp, white miso, and roasted sunflower seeds. Their chewy, slightly curly noodles were perfectly-cooked and satisfying to eat, but the real star ingredient was their treatment of oyster mushrooms. I’m not sure how they’re able to pack so much umami flavor into a king oyster mushroom, but they’re savory, complex, and deliciously meaty.

Inside Grand Central Market at 317 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013. Closest Metro lines and stop: Metro B and D Lines - "Pershing Square Station", Metro A and E Lines - "Historic Broadway Station", Bus Lines 30, 40, and 45 - "Broadway/3rd", Bus Lines 4, 10, 28, 48, 81, 90, and 94 - "Hill/3rd."

Photo via Daikokuya Ramen/Instagram.
Photo via Daikokuya Ramen/Instagram.

Tokyo-Style Tonkotsu ~ Daikokuya ~ Little Tokyo

If you want a classic, hearty bowl of ramen and don’t mind waiting, Daikokuya is a staple in Little Tokyo. Daikokuya’s tonkotsu ramen is probably what you’d imagine if you were asked to think of a bowl of ramen. The slightly curly egg noodles paired with a thick tonkatsu soup base and tender chashu are the epitome of comfort food. For an even richer broth with added back fat, I took Daikokuya’s recommendation to get the kotteri. It’s not a delicate, Instagrammable bowl by any means, but that’s how you know it’s good. 

327 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012 (Daikokuya also has locations in Sawtelle, El Monte, and Monterey Park) Closest Metro lines and stop: Metro A and E Lines - "Little Tokyo/Arts District Station" or Bus Lines 30 and 106 - "1st/San Pedro."

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