Because Maruchan thankfully doesn't translate to "the best this stuff gets", LA's got a glut of great noodle-slurperies -- and, despite your crazy-foodie friend's insistence, there are also many that don't require hauling out to Gardena or Torrance or something just to stuff your face. Check out five of the best, each in a different neighborhood to ensure you're always close to a hearty bowl of amazingness.
This mini-chain represents in the 818 (whut-WHUT!), as well as Culver City and Westwood, with a sort of choose-your-own adventure menu that lets you customize your noodles with a shload of ingredients ranging from bamboo shoots to pork loin. You can also get it your way broth-wise, though you can't go wrong with the Tonkotsu, which they boil for 20 hours for major flavor explosiveness.
Sure, it's a no-brainer to put this old-school ode to thin noodles and light, salty pork broth on the list, but now that they've opened a second location on Sawtelle, there's no reason not to revisit this longtime standby -- other than the sometimes oppressive line outside. Hidden bonus: while you're waiting you can go to the bodega next door and buy weird Japanese candy!
This recent ramen addition makes literally the thickest broth we've ever seen, a virtual cholesterol stew made even more delicious by adding in spoonfuls of garlic awesomeness and a "red spice" to heighten the heat. There're at least 10 other rameneries within walking distance, but, for now, this guy is king, and ready to make you resemble King Ralph.
A few years ago, mid-city was a ramen desert, that is until this Japanese chain (which also has a Ramen Jinya location in Studio City) opened up, with its pork-and-chicken based goodness, as well as an extensive selection of skewers (the chicken meatballs, laced with seaweed and spices, are ridiculous), and under-$15 lunch specials.
Ikemen: The Dip Ramen
This tiny strip mall-joint made its name on "dip ramen", which is exactly what it sounds like minus the tobacco: noodles and broth are served separately from each other, guaranteeing each bite the perfect level balance of moisture and flavor. They've also got a slew of unusual options going on, like ramen broths with Italian basil and "zebra garlic", if you're still earning your stripes.
A small noodle house known for their extra-thick broth.
A mainstay in the ramen culture of LA (some may even argue that it started the trend), Daikokuya has been serving long lines of customers for years, satisfying them with its straightforward and scrumptious bowls of chewy noodles and rich broth, plus some stupid-good gyoza. Walk inside and you'll feel as though you've entered a bare-bones side-street shop in Tokyo. Slightly grungy and reverberating the sounds of loud Japanese orders and greetings, the space has red booths for you and your friends to squeeze into, and some counter seating, too.
Yamadaya specializes in Tonkotsu ramen which is a rich, milky white pork based style that is the holy grail of ramen. The flavor is so delicious and rich, a combination created after more than 20 hours of boiling; the first ten hours are used to break the bones into flakes, and then the second ten hours, the broth is simmered to get the perfect genuine pork bone flavor. You can also create your own custom-topped ramen masterpiece, using the same broth base.
From Japanese-inspired sliders to something called a Zebra Dip, Ikemen is definitely a spot to check out.
The menu at Robata Jinya might be a bit perplexing at first due to the many options and combinations you can order, but once you sort out what you desire, this "robata-yaki" (fireside cooking) joint will send your taste buds to Tokyo while you sit comfortably in West Hollywood.