Archive for 'West L.A.'

Kitchen Story Brings Korean Snack Food to Sawtelle


Little Osaka is dead! Long live Sawtelle Japantown, the new City Council approved designation of the ramen and sushi filled strip of West L.A. between Olympic and Santa Monica.  But while the name Japantown is a great homage to the roots of the neighborhood, it doesn’t really do justice to the geographic variety of foodstuff that’s popped up in the past few years.  We’re talking soup dumplings (ROC), pho (Nong La), Korean flavored sausages and rice balls (Seoul Sausage), pizza (Slice Truck), burgers (Plan Check, Bachi Burger), and Korean tofu stew (Seoul House), all of which will make you think twice about waiting on that line for Tsujita.  Even prepared foods chain Lemonade has a branch opening on the street this week.

But the most exiting new arrival is Kitchen Story, a Korean street snack specialist that took over the old Hong Kong Cafe space.

Read more »

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.

Read more »

Lunchtime is the Best Time For Shabu Shabu House on Sawtelle


It’s no secret why sushi is the hardest lunch to reconcile with our intense desire to keep things under $10 during the midday meal.  Raw fish isn’t cheap, nor do you really want it to be.  But sushi isn’t the only Japanese food that is hard to come by for less than a Hamilton. Shabu shabu has proven elusive as well, for some reason.  All you can eat Korean BBQ seems to have no problem serving up endless plates of thinly sliced meat, ready to be grilled, for $9.99.  But take that meat and dip it in boiling water with some veggies and the price almost doubles.  Maybe that’s why the only shabu shabu place we’ve found that hits the $10 mark is in Koreatown. 

But K-town’s Khan Shabu Shabu has some competition now that Shabu Shabu House has opened on Sawtelle, from the good people at SushiStop. That’s right- the cheap sushi specialists of West L.A. have branched out into Shabu Shabu.

Read more »

Shin Sen Gumi is Now Open on Sawtelle; Here Are 5 Reasons To Go


I think it’s safe to say that Sawtelle Blvd, in West L.A., has become the ramen capital of Southern California.  While practically every neighborhood in Los Angeles now has a decent ramen option, Sawtelle has practically every ramen option all on one street.  Want to eat the best bowl of Tonkotsu ramen or tsukemen dippings noodles in the city?  Go to Tsujita. Want a pork fat infusion from the place that held that distinction before Tsujita, and has better rice bowls?  There’s now a Daikokuya on the strip.  Infamous Jiro style ramen, with fatter noodles? Tsujita Annex.  Soup-less ramen?  Tatsu has you covered.  And if you long for the days when L.A. didn’t know what a great bowl of ramen tasted like, there’s always the throwback assari-kei ramen at Asahi where you choose between shoyu, shio, or miso (although you’re probably better off driving the extra 3 miles to Santouka.)

So where does Shin Sen Gumi, the Gardena based hakata style ramen chain with locations in the SGV, Fountain Valley, and Little Tokyo, fit in to all this madness? When they opened up Downtown their only competition was Daikokuya, making it an easy sell.  But their newest location just opened on the little extension of Sawtelle just north of Santa Monica, blocks away from some of the best ramen in the city. Here are 5 reasons you’d want to end up at SSG…

Read more »

Your First Look at Kimukatsu’s Layers of Pork

What is it about layers that makes people go insane? Some pastry guy in New York layers croissant dough and deep fries it, and the country goes bonkers. Idiots, I say! They’re losers, right? Why would anybody wait in line for that? And yet… when I heard about Kimukatsu, a famous Japanese pork cutlet chain opening its first two locations in Los Angeles, I had a cronut moment of my own. Maybe it wasn’t as twee as what Dominique Ansel has wreaked, but it was a moment nonetheless. And why was I so excited for the news of this chain? What makes this breaded and deep fried pork cutlet more excited than the excellent pork cutlets you can get at Hurry Curry of Tokyo, Wako Donkasu, or Myeongdong?  Layers.  It’s all about the layers.

Read more »

Kula Sushi Now Revolving on Sawtelle (And It’s a Cheap Sushi Fan’s Dream Come True)

Is it weird that I love conveyor belt sushi, without ever having been to a conveyor belt sushi place that I truly love?  That’s definitely strange, right?  I guess I just love the idea of conveyor belt sushi. After all, what could be more fun than having your menu float past you on miniature boats, combining the ordering and receiving of your food into one simple motion. Sushi dim sum!  In practice, though, kaiten sushi is never as fun as you think it’s going to be.  If the place isn’t full, you watch the same things go around and around and around, wondering why you even bothered with this nonsense.  Sure, you can order anything they serve off the menu but that would defeat the purpose.  When something you do want comes along you find yourself quickly trying to match the color of the plate with the price. Is this worth it?  Am I paying more for something that may have been floating around in circles for god knows how long? How many plates have I ordered already?  Will something better come if I just wait? Am I spending a fortune?  What the hell is going on?!

It’s downright stressful.  Unless, of course, you just give in to the fun of it. In which case you always end up with a bill that seems far too expensive for what’s supposed to be a casual sushi lunch. And that, folks, is how they get you.  But even knowing all that, I can’t resist the pull of the conveyor belt.  So when Kula Sushi finally opened on Sawtelle last week, in West L.A., I had to check it out.

Read more »

Daikokuya West L.A. is Finally Open For Lunch

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any crazier on Sawtelle in West LA, signage went up a few months ago announcing that Daikokuya would be opening just down the street from Tsujita, considered by many to be serving the best bowl of ramen in Los Angeles.  It’s enough to make ramen geeks squeal because while Tsujita is clearly serving the noodle bowl of the moment, Daikokuya’s ultra popular downtown location could be considered the ramenya that started it all here in Los Angeles.

A month ago the new West L.A. location of Daikokuya soft opened for dinner, but they didn’t start serving lunch until two days ago. And by day two the place is already packed. Check out the menu after the jump…

Read more »