Dosanko Larmen, Japan’s Oldest Ramen Chain, Comes to Los Angeles


8 years ago this week as a wee lad lunching in Midtown Manhattan I stumbled upon this sign perched high above Madison Avenue.  Promising the world’s finest noodle shop; pointing to nothing. Being a hub for Japanese businessmen, Midtown already had its share of ramen joints but it would still be another two years before the Japanese chain Ippudo brought truly great ramen to New York City.  In other words, the opening or closing of a Midtown ramen shop in 2014 would barely register a raised eyebrow.  In 2006, the Larmen Dosanko sign was a truly exciting mystery.

With a little bit of online sleuthing, I discovered that Larmen Dosanko was one of very first and largest ramen chains in Japan.  “The McDonald’s of Japan” according to this 1981 article in the New York Times.  In the 70s they expanded to New York, serving up noodles in soup or sautéed with meat or veggies, but by the time this photo was taken all of the branches had closed down.  Well, last week Dosanko quietly returned to the United States. But instead of New York they decided on Los Angeles, taking over the Ramenya space on Olympic near Barrington.

And 8 years after seeing that mysterious sign, I finally got to taste what Larmen Dosanko was all about.


When you walk in you’re greeted by a giant timeline on the wall, confirming that this Dosanko is indeed a descendant of the New York chain whose sign I spotted back in 2006. But apparently they rebranded earlier this year, and expanded to Paris and Los Angeles.


While most ramen in L.A. is the pork heavy tonkotsu ramen from Hakata, or a Tokyo style hybrid, Dosanko’s ramen is from Sapporo- where the chain was originally launched. That means there’s ginger and ground pork in your white miso ramen.


And there’s corn (and spicy ground pork) in the house special spicy ramen with red miso. They also come with a bright and runny 1/2 egg and super solid thick curly noodles- most similar to the ones at Tsuita Annex. But don’t worry too much, pork lovers. While the broth isn’t as crazy fatty as Tsujita or Daikokuya, it’s plenty rich enough- and comes with thick hunks of braised chashu.


There are also the requisite add ons, like gyoza, chashu bowls, pork fried rice and a curry bowl. But I don’t see how anybody will be able to avoid getting their signature spicy butter corn fried rice. (Spoiler: It’s as good as it sounds.)

The bowls are all $9-10, or you can splurge for the $12-13 “deluxe” bowls which appear to just come with more of everything- most notably double the egg, and triple the chashu. There’s also a soy sauce ramen, a seafood ramen, and a spicy seafood ramen. And it’s cash only (for now?)

World’s Finest Noodle Shop? Not in 2014.  But it’s more than good, and far better than McDonald’s.  So just when you thought the West L.A. ramen scene couldn’t get any better, it does. Welcome back to the U.S. Dosanko. It’s good to finally meet you.

Dosanko, 11555 W Olympic Blvd (nr. Barrington)


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