There’s no other US city that has better Asian food. (I should also be getting a Mexican and burger fix while I’m out here, but my GI system can handle only so much input.)
Daikokuya is among the most highly regarded of the ramen houses, and its ramen isn’t bad. Their house ramen has a shoyu-pork bone broth with not particularly springy noodles. Also, not so good cold overly hard-boiled egg. Great kurobuta pork slices though. Tasty and big (if you like that sort of thing), and worth a 15-minute wait (apparently the line can get pretty bad; I don’t know that it’s worth more than that). The best part might be the place itself, which has a great neighborhood diner-y feel. And Little Tokyo is a cool neighborhood, what with a Murakami exhibit at the MOCA, a Kinokuniya bookstore (with an excellent DVD selection), and a Japanese supermarket with crazy toy miniatures.
A few years ago, Joyce introduced me to the red bean doughnuts made at the bakery across from the huge Galleria supermarket in Koreatown, where they have an entire aisle devoted to kimchi. The doughnuts are invariably warm from the fryolator and have a pleasant greasiness to them that’s the perfect accompaniment to a stroll through the aisles sampling pollack roe and cuttlefish. DELICIOUS. One is plenty.
While at the Galleria, we picked up some prepared food for dinner: Bi Ji is a kind of seasoned (the ingredients list pork and beef, I think, but I’d be hard pressed to identify where any of that is) mashed tofu that you mix into rice, seasoned (chile paste-coated?) cuttlefish (the red strips), daikon kimchi, and “Korean sausage,” which is a wonderful creamy blood sausage filled with potato (bean thread?) noodles and rice.
Off a Rameniac tip, we paid a visit to the Santouka stall in the food court of the West L.A. Mitsuwa supermarket. Now this is more like it: like Setagaya, their specialty is shio ramen, and theirs has all the sweet porky essence coaxed out of a shit-ton of pig bones, it seems like. I mean, just look at this broth:
Not only does it have the milkiness of my mom’s pork-bone broths, it actually has bits of pork bone detritus (marrow, probably; not actual bone, dummy) floating in it. I could eat this ramen weekly. Setagaya has better noodles and tastier pork and a soft-boiled egg (where’s the egg, Santouka?), but it’s been a little off lately in terms of soup temperature. This stuff was steaming, tongue-burningly hot, just the right size, and good to the last drop.
Kiriko sushi post tomorrow or the day after, once I get home and can get to a faster connection. And yes, we also ate some other, non-Asian stuff too. Mozza coverage later this week. But don’t you want some noodles now?