Ramen Hayatemaru is Now Open on Olympic (and Spoiler: It’s Awesome)
In case you missed it on Eater at the end of last year, I’ll say it again. If you live or work on the westside, there is really no reason to travel any substantial distance for ramen. Want a giant bowl of super porky Hakata style ramen, you go to Yamadaya. Want something porky, but a bit more refined, or the perfect bowl of Tsukemen (dipping noodles)? You’ll be joining the hordes, waiting outside of Tsujita. And if shio or shoyu ramen is your thing, then former westside ramen champ Santouka still satisfies.
So when Besha Rodell from the L.A. Weekly wrote about Hayatemaru, Torrance’s new Hokkaido style ramen shop, back in June I didn’t really pay much attention. But now that the Japanese chain has opened a second location on Olympic and Barrington, I’m all in!
The menu has 7 different bowls of ramen all available in full or half portions ($8.50-$9/$5.50-$6), plus two versions of tsukemen- one with a shoyu dipping broth, one with the miso broth.
Their Hokkaido ramen is a tonkotsu base, w/ chashu, chunks of garlic, and wavy yellow noodles- which are springy and so good. There are also bamboo shoots, scallions, and bean sprouts, but none of the corn, cabbage, or seafood that you’ll often find in large bowls of Sapporo style ramen. In fact, even though most articles say that Hayatemaru is Sapporo style, it sounds more like this description of Asahikawa ramen- which is what Santouka is known for. Either way it’s nice and porky, but not as strong or heavy as the Hakata style tonkotsu ramen you’ll find at Yamadaya or Tsujita.
Miso ramen is actually what Sapporo is known for, and their White Miso Ramen is great if you prefer that to a straight tonkotsu broth.
It seems like you can’t open a new ramen place in L.A. without offering up a version of tsukemen, and Hayatemaru does two. We tried the shoyu, which came with extra thick noodles and a concentrated bowl of their shoyu broth. It wasn’t as strong or as fishy as most tsukemen broths, but they give you fish powder on the side if that’s your thing. And even though the broth is light enough to drink on its own, they still offer to add hot broth to your bowl when your done with the noodles, if you want to finish by drinking the leftover dipping juice as a soup. It won’t replace Tsujita’s tsukemen as the best in L.A., but the noodles are great, and the broth is perfect for people who are turned off by the strong bonito flavor of Tsujita’s version.
The menu also has gyoza, assorted rice bowls, katsu, and karaage- all priced at under $10, making them perfect accompaniments to a half bowl of ramen.
At most ramen spots in L.A. the gyoza are a pleasant if unspectacular afterthought, but not here. These are super plump and juicy, with the perfect amount of crispiness on the outside. Clearly homemade, and very flavorful, if dumplings are your thing these are a must order.
And the version of karaage that comes topped with sweet vinegar and ginger sauce is awesome.
The basics are Hayatemaru are all great, and they’ve been open less than a week. The chashu pork was a little dry, but I’m sure they’ll work it out… and that was really the only thing wrong with everything we ordered. And there’s plenty more to try that we didn’t get to. There’s a red miso ramen that looked good, as well as three spicy ramen (jiggae, spicy miso, and orochon) and the katsu and the different rice bowls too.
Of course now the big question is, do I regret never driving down to Torrance to check this place out earlier? And the answer… who cares. Now, I don’t have to.
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- I love Sapporo style ramen! So excited to have a solid version on the westside.
- Yellow wavy noodles FTW! (And these are way better than Santouka’s or Daikokuya’s.)
- I think Tsujita’s tsukemen is too fishy. This version is perfect.
- Perfectly cooked dark meat karaage covered in a sweet vinegar/ginger sauce? Sign me up.
- So glad they offer half bowls of soup for under $6. When it comes to ramen, that’s all I need.
- If the mark of a good ramen place is their gyoza, this place is the best ramen place in L.A.
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- I prefer a much richer, porkier broth. And straight noodles. Tsujita is still my favorite.
- The pork was super dry. Hopefully they’ll work out the kinks in the next few weeks.
- Where’s my corn? And cabbage? And seafood? Sapporo ramen my butt.
- Cash only
Ramen Hayatemaru, 11678 W. Olympic Blvd.