Tatsu’s Naked Ramen Might be the Lunch Dish of the Summer
When I heard about Tatsu Ramen opening on Sawtelle, three things immediately came to mind:
- Ordering on iPads is a stupid gimmick…
- … there’s no way this place is going to be good.
- What the hell is “naked ramen” and why the hell would I want to eat it?
What I learned after actually eating at Tatsu?
- Ordering ramen on iPads attached to the wall is kind of fun!
- This place is no freakin’ joke.
- And naked ramen is my new favorite bowl of noodles for the summer
Check it out after the jump…
As promised, you walk into Tatsu and immediately place your order using an iPad hanging on the wall.
There are only two options: Tonkotsu Ramen ($10) & Naked Ramen. ($9)
You then choose your protein (pork, tofu, or chicken), the level of garlic and heat you want added to the bowl, as well as your toppings. Egg or no egg, corn, seaweed, and fresh garlic are all free. And then you have the option of paying to add more pork ($2), chicken ($2), tofu ($1), noodles ($1), or eggs ($1 each).
Once you’re done you pay with a credit card, get your receipt and one of the waitresses will seat you.
Considering the gimmicks I had pretty low expectations for the ramen, but ended up really surprised at how good and flavorful it was. If you like straight noodles these are some of the better ones you’ll find in L.A., and the whole egg was perfectly ooozy in the center.
And you get two giant, elephant ear size portions of thick cut pork. It’s not as perfect as what you get Tsujita, and there are those who will be disappointed that it’s not belly, but it didn’t lack in the fat or flavor department. And there was a ton of it. The soup itself is a bit darker than a typical tonkotsu, and didn’t have the same porky punch you get at places like Yamadaya or Daikokuya. But the broth still manages to linger, like a pork flavored lip gloss. Personal ramen preferences aside, these guys clearly know what they’re doing.
But the real surprise of the lunch was the “Naked Ramen”, which is not so much a soup-less version of their tonkotsu as it is a completely different noodle dish on the menu.
First off, it uses a curly ramen noodle (and a great one at that) that comes topped with your choice of protein, an egg, scallions and a sesame oil sauce that is equal parts sweet and mildly spicy. And the acidity from the squirt of lime ties the whole thing together. But the best part is the crunch you get from the little dish of toasted whole wheat breadcrumbs. It’s not served cold, but I could probably eat this every day for the entire summer.
The place has only been open a few weeks so naturally there are some slight improvements that could be made. For example, the day I was there the chashu and the center of my egg were both a bit on the cold side. And there have been complaints about saltiness. But overall it made a great first impression, especially for being on a street that is rapidly feeling like it can’t take another ramen option.
The + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- Love the iPad ordering! It’s not only a lot of fun, but it lets you add as little or as much of the toppings as you’d like
- Between Tsujita, the beef ramen at Gottsui, and the wackiness of Miyata Menji, it’s nice to have yet another different tasting ramen option on Sawtelle.
- I prefer straight noodles to curly noodles in my ramen.
- I’m sick of pork belly. I like those gigantor thick cut slices of pork that some ramen places serve.
- It’s summertime… who wants to eat a big bowl of ramen. Naked Ramen FTW!
- Breadcrumbs + noodles = awesomeness
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- Why would eat this tonkotsu with Tsujita right next door?
- Sorry, but ramen without pork belly is no kind of ramen I want to eat.
- The broth is a bit too salty for me
- Corn, seaweed and scallions is it?! I need more toppings in my ramen.
- What are we in Japan? I don’t want to order my ramen from a vending machine or a computer. Let me sit down and order from a regular menu.
Tatsu Ramen, 2123 Sawtelle Blvd. 310-684-2889