We’re long past conjuring up thoughts of dehydrated ingredients when we think “ramen.” Now all we think is “delicious,” followed by thoughts of, “where?” Fortunately, we’ve got a list of the top ramen shops serving up the best bowls in the city. Here’s where you should be slurping:
The Best Ramen in LA Right Now
Pasadena used to be a ramen desert, but Tatsunoya’s excellence means it’s come a long way: go with the Koku Tonkotsu for a bolder flavor or the Jun Tonkotsu for a mellower taste, but both broths are guaranteed to have you slurping their house-made, deliciously thin noodles into oblivion. Their toppings are simple, so don’t forget to add that flavored, soft-boiled egg.
Though tonkotsu is undeniably delicious, it’s about time we get over our pork obsession, LA. Try the Tori Paitan ramen with their medium-width house noodles and a rich but palatable chicken broth (OK, and just a touch of pork) that won’t bowl you over the way thicker broths do.
At this arguably (arguably, OK?) superior alternative to Daikokuya nearby, Men Oh’s Tokushima style combines soy with pork bones in their broth. Stir-fried pork is available as a topping instead of your standard, braised chashu, as well as the option to add a raw, poached, or soft-boiled egg which both may just blow your mind.
These bowls of ramen by a Michelin-starred chef in The Valley lives up to all the hype. Hit up their kogashi ramen, swapping out their chicken broth with their pork variety -- it’s got tons of flavor with which to slurp up their deliciously chewy noodles.
Culver City and Westwood
To make the intensely rich soup at either of these Westside joints, they boil pork bones for TWENTY hours, and once your bowl arrives, you can ask for a press to smash fresh garlic into it. What more do you need to know???
The ultra-thick kotteri broth is the go-to order at this pre-trend favorite, which still stands tall thanks to great ingredients and overall unctuousness.
There's not a ton of ramen in Glendale just yet, but this recently opened strip mall outpost fills the geographic void with tomato and shoyu-brothed soup, as well as an izakaya-style menu that also includes skewers and sushi.
Put the spoon down and step away from the boat noodles, sir. You’d be surprised to hear there’s pretty decent ramen at Fukurou, so take advantage of the variety of stellar soup noodle options in Thai Town. For just $9 you can get an amazing pork belly fried rice and a bowl of soup that tastes like your mom made it. Well, not YOUR mom. But somebody’s mom.
The fact that this former beauty queen has retired to the county fair circuit doesn’t mean the lines have gotten any shorter. Other places, like Shin-Sen-Gumi and Manichi, have moved into Downtown and even next door, but none is quite as popular as the one who started the LA ramen craze more than 10 years ago.
Food court ramen? Yes. For sure. This classic fast-food ramen spot in the Mitsuwa Marketplace was the king of the Westside before Tsujita came along. But it’s still super-popular and their super-complex Shio, or salt, variety is more than worth hitting up for a quick fix -- if you don’t get distracted by the also-insanely-good food court tempura from Hannosuke.
Order your bowl of ramen from the iPads hanging on the wall, then go find a seat and think about how happy you are to not be in line at Pink’s around the corner. Their pork and chicken ramen are both great, but how can you not go commando with their soup-less "Naked Ramen"?
This wood-laden South Pasadena strip-mall spot has made a name for itself thanks to truffle-oil abetted ramen and stupid-good Brussels sprouts.
This mini chain (there are also locations in Downtown LA, West LA, Fountain Valley, Monterey Park, and Gardena) makes its name on totally customizeable bowls of soup, with a choose-your-own-adventure-style menu that leads to the exact dish you want.
This under-the-radar contender just down the street from Ramen by Omae in The Valley boasts huge flavor in their soup along with crazy-good homemade gyoza.
Though its siblings Ramen Jinya and Robata Jinya are contenders in the middle of town for sure, the OG Jinya Ramen Bar (outside of Tokyo, natch) has become a go-to for Valley broth lovers, thanks to consistently delicious, dashi-laden bowls.
Torrance is loaded with quality noodlecatessans, but Umenoya has stood strong as a favorite for years, buoyed by a perfectly fatty tonkotsu broth, chewy-not-sticky noodles, and -- oh yeah -- being open until 2:30am.
Forget best on Sawtelle, you could make an argument that this tiny ramen shop is the best in the US. Their dip ramen is insane, but if the crowds are too big you can always head across the street to their "Annex" for a style known in Japan as "man’s ramen", you know... because... thicker noodles?
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Esther Tseng is a freelance writer who used to live in Hollywood but now lives in East Hollywood while intermittently lying about living in a certain adjacent, overblown neighborhood without the word "Hollywood" in it. Follow her trappings: @estarLA.
Jeff Miller is the Editor of Thrillist LA and Zach Brooks is the founder of MidtownLunch.com; they can both often be found on the podcast Food Is The New Rock, which you can subscribe to at FoodIsTheNewRock.com.
1. Ramen Tatsunoya16 N Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena
2. Tentenyu2012 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles
3. Men Oh Tokushima Ramen457 E. 2nd St., Los Angeles
4. Ramen By Omae14425 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks
5. Ramen Yamadaya3118 W 182nd St, Torrance
6. Asa Ramen18202 S Western Ave, Gardena
7. Kanpai Ramen1023 E Colorado St, Glendale
8. Fukurou Ramen5103 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles
9. Daikokuya327 E 1st St, Los Angeles
10. Santouka3760 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles
11. Tatsu Ramen2123 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles
12. Modan Artisanal Ramen700 Fair Oaks Ave, South Pasadena
13. Tamashii Ramen House14531 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks
14. Shin-Sen-Gumi Hakata Ramen8450 Valley Blvd Ste 103, Rosemead
15. Jinya Ramen Bar2400 Main St, Santa Monica
16. Umenoya24222 Crenshaw Blvd, Torrance
17. Tsujita2057 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles
Virtually unheard of outside its native Kurume in Japan's Fukuoka Prefecture, this popular ramen chain opened their first stateside location in Pasadena, where they serve the scrumptious, rich pork ramen noodles that made them famous. Packed with flavor, the Koku Tonkotsu is always a solid choice, as is the mellower Jun Tonkotsu. No matter which house-made dish you choose, be sure to top it off with a soft-boiled egg.
Let's be honest: LA has a bit of a tonkotsu addiction. There's more to ramen than just pork, and that's where Tentenyu comes in. This popular Kyoto import is home to some of the best chicken broth around. Perfectly golden and not too rich, they make it from scratch and boil it for 10 hours, so you know it's the real deal. Consider trying it with the Tori Paitan ramen, which features Tentenyu's tasty, medium-width house noodles.
Men Oh is a tiny-in-size, big-in-flavor ramen house that hails from the pig farming region of Tokushima. Thanks to the area's plentiful pig bones, the broth here is exceptionally rich and follows the Tokushima style, in which soy is combined with the pork bones in the broth. Be sure to top your bowl with stir-fried pork instead of the typical braised chashu, and you'll want to consider adding a raw, poached, or soft-boiled egg, too.
Run by a Michelin-starred chef, this cozy ramen house in The Valley is known to be one of the best in the city -- and actually lives up to the hype. Offering a variety of upscale Japanese cuisine, Omae has some seriously tasty bowls of ramen on the menu, too, such as the Kogashi ramen, which is made with a pork broth, instead of the usual chicken, and their always-scrumptious and chewy noodles. Trust us, you'll want seconds.
This beloved ramen mini-chain's Torrance location has long been a mecca for slurpy-noodle enthusiasts. Trust the hype, and get the Tonkotsu. The pork broth in every bowl is simmered twenty hours for maximum flavor -- and you can taste ALL of it.
This hole in the wall in Gardena manages to stay under the radar -- way under the radar, they don't even have a website -- even with its top-notch offering of chewy ramen noodles in rich broth. The few tables and bar seats it has are rarely all filled, even late at night when the bar crawlers come out, making for a peaceful meal at any time and a warm stomach full of succulent pork, boiled eggs, seaweed, and green onions.
Although this sweet and simple Japanese joint in Citrus grove's got a full menu of bento boxes, sushi, robatayaki (aka barbecued meats), and rice bowls, what the people really come to Kanpai for is the ramen. The four speciality flavors range from hearty, to salty, to buttery, to spicy and all come piled high with toppings like pork and chicken, boiled eggs, green onions, and corn. Daily chef specials will satisfy the adventurous, as will their decent selections of beer and sake.
Fukurou has become of the best bets for scrumptious ramen in Hollywood. You'll want to check out its lineup of top-notch soup noodle options -- for just $9 you can get tasty pork belly fried rice and a bowl of soup. This laid-back spot spends little time on the decor (simple wooden tables, a checkered floor, red-and-green painted walls), instead focusing on making some seriously tasty ramen and gyoza, and offering sweet drink specials to boot.
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.
Ordering at Mr Vista's Santouka goes by in a flash -- the constant line of patrons have their cash at the ready before getting to the counter and ordering one of six menu items (spoiler alert: they're all ramen). The broths range from salty, to rich, to a little bit fishy, and each is handmade creation that's thick and always piping hot. The kids will end up liking this ramen joint more than most -- Santouka's always preferred mild flavors to spicy ones.
This Sawtelle noodle house has got a think for tonkotsu ramen -- they make is fresh every day and let it marinate for a solid 12 hours so it's rich, hearty, and flavorful by the time it's put in your bowl, which you've no-doubt customized with simmered pork, garlic, corn, mushrooms, and eggs. For those that don't know where to start, a speciality bowl with a quirky name like Hippie Ramen, Naked Ramen, and Cheeky Ramen should point in the right direction.
Nestled in to a South Pasadena strip mall, this tiny, contemporary ramen house has made a name for itself thanks to its truffle oil-abetted ramen and addictive brussels sprouts, which are fried, served on a stick, and the perfect balance of sweet and salty. What is this truffle oil ramen, you ask? Named after the restaurant, the Modan Ramen is a must-try, made with juicy chunks of chashu pork, wood ear mushroom, nori, green onion, soft-boiled egg, and black garlic truffle oil.
The word "tamashii" is Japanese for "soul," and that's exactly what you're getting at this stylish spot (black and red chairs, wooden tables, and modern art fill the space) in North Hollywood: ramen that's good for the soul. No matter what bowl you decide on, you're in for huge flavor, but consider trying the Spicy Tonkotsu, made with spicy pork broth and noodles topped with black mushrooms, bean sprouts, green onions, half a soft-boiled egg, and tender braised pork.
This mini chain (you'll find its other spots in West LA, Fountain Valley, Monterey Park, and Gardena) has made name for itself thanks to its totally customizable bowls of soup, with a choose-your-own-adventure-style menu that leads to the exact dish you're craving. Beyond ramen, they also serve sushi and udon, and whip up some ultra-tasty and authentic yakitori: bite-size pieces of charbroiled chicken that are skewered on bamboo sticks and either sprinkled with salt or topped with teriyaki.
With homemade noodles that have a near-perfect portion of broth, tender pork chasu, fresh garlic you can press yourself, and poached eggs instead of hard-boiled, Jinya takes traditional ramen and takes it right over the edge without hesitation (and without an heft increase in price). Despite its name, this Ocean Park spot offers up far more than just ramen, though, including a few basic sushi rolls. little steamed buns stuff with meats and vegetables, and rice bowls.
Torrance is loaded with quality noodle shops, but thanks to its fatty tonkotsu broth, chewy noodles that aren't too sticky nor too slippery, and its super late closing time, Umenoya's remained a local favorite over the years. There isn't a way to take these soupy creations to-go, and they don't deliver, but the often-quiet and simple shop makes a quick stop in or a car ride over an easy sacrifice for the kick your tastebuds get from this place's notorious spice-level.
With Tonkotsu that's been simmering for 60 hours, the ramen at Tsujita doesn't play around. The brothy bowls of noodles come boiled hard, medium, or soft -- if you want, they'll even drop a little spicy bbq pork, a boiled egg, some seaweed, green onion, or mushroom in there. Those craving something with a little less soup and a little more noodle will be gladly met by a rice bowl or tsukemen, ramen's distant cousin whose noodles come cold and separated from its thick, rich stock.