Sunday, December 27, 2009

Daikokuya - Los Angeles, CA (Little Tokyo)

Deb and I came here on Christmas Eve after we realized that pretty much every restaurant in LA was closed except for those in Little Tokyo and Koreatown. She hadn't been in a long time and I don't think I've ever been myself so we gave it a go. Clearly everyone else had the same realization that we did because there were a huge group of people waiting outside. It was a pretty cold night for LA and there was hardly enough standing room inside, so we thought of eating elsewhere and walked down 1st Street and saw some open, but empty restaurants and decided maybe Daikokuya was worth the wait afterall.

Inside, you will find several booths and a counter where people are slurping down bowls of ramen.
Cool old school advertisements and movie posters decorate the space as well. They also had a stack of japanese manga on the side to keep you company while you wait.
Deb and I, in typical fashion, ordered way too much food because we wanted to try different things on the menu. We ordered some gyoza and a side of fried rice, in addition to our ramen.
The pan-fried pork and veggie dumplings were OK. You get about 5 dumplings for $5.95. I liked the crispiness of the skin and the mounds of green onions on top, but it didn't really do much for me. Not worth it in my opinion. Deb said that she noticed a lot of Japanese people ordering the fried rice in her prior visits and was curious about it, so we ordered it too. We're like sheep. It has onions, corn, eggs, green onions and pieces of kurobuta pork. It was pretty tasty. Now if they had some sriracha, that would have been awesome.
Now for the Daikoku Ramen ($8.50). You can ask for the kotteri flavor broth, which has a richer broth because they use soup extracted from the back fat. There's too much fatty in me already, so I resisted. You can also ask for firmer noodles. According to the menu, the tonkotsu broth is made from boiling pork bones and joints in a large cauldron throughout the night at an undisclosed location. To the broth, they add boiled chijire style egg noodles, kurobuta pork belly chashu, marinated boiled egg, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, green onions and sesame seeds.

Here's what I loved about the Daikoku Ramen: I loved that they gave you a full egg. I am obsessed with the par-boiled, marinated eggs that ramen houses make. I don't know how they make the yolk still a bit runny, yet hard enough to marinate it, but it's my favorite. Most places give you half an egg, or even worse, they will charge you extra. Blasphemy! I also liked the chewiness of the noodles and the pork belly just melted in my mouth.
Here's what I didn't like so much: The portions here are pretty big, maybe a bit too big. I know, sounds so silly to complain about too much food, but I kind of lost interest eating the ramen halfway through. Maybe because of the large size, the broth cools down a bit too fast and after I ate a good amount of the noodles with the pork, bamboo shoots and bean sprouts, I was done. Usually when I eat ramen, I can't get enough. Here, however, after finishing all of the pork and veggies, the noodles and broth together didn't hold my interest. At Ippudo in New York, they add a red miso paste to the broth that enhances the depth of their soup. I felt like something was missing in the broth at Daikokuya, which was evident after the broth cooled down. It was almost one dimensional and flat. Deb said that she remembers it being better when she came awhile back too. It was good, but not as good as either one of us had hoped.

I've tried Orochon and Santouka several years back and I'm not sure I liked either of them all that much. Deb said she wasn't a fan of Shin-Sen-Gumi either. Sounds like I might have to try some other ramen houses in 2010. Please feel free to pass on some suggestions.

327 E 1st St
Los Angeles, CA 90012


  1. You didn't order the sausages?!?! I usually get the gyoza, sausages, and donkatsu for starters... and share the ramen+fried rice combo. oh. and of course, kirin draft and hot sake :)

  2. You must go to Japan to taste the best ramen shops!