Friday, September 16, 2011

Hakata Ramen Shin-Sen-Gumi - Little Tokyo

Torn between Shin-Sen-Gumi or Spice Table because it is just so dayam hot outside and I'm not the biggest fan of slurping hot ramen in hot weather. But, I am also curious to see if there really is a legit rival in town so that I don't have to wait in Daikokuya's epic line when winter rolls around. 

So I did what anyone in my position would do. I tweeted...and waited. Sinosoul tweets back "gumi fo sho." He hates carbs and he said to go here so...Gumi it is! My friend finally joins me and we snag a seat before the lunch crowd comes bursting in. The decor is kawaii in that Japanese cafe style and the seating is intimate. There are tables or you can sit at the counter around the ramen creators.

The chandeliers are made out of ramen strainers. Too cute. Inspiring, funny, and seriously, too cute.

We decide to share a Sapporo so we can harden up the place a little. The waitress comes over and asks us if we wanted to do a loud toast. We definitely wanted to do a loud toast. The entire restaurant erupts in a Japanese phrase and ends with "Kampai!" Too cute.

My friend wants to eat the fried squid legs probably because she likes reading that on the menu. I'm imagining a squid walking around in heels, not the tentacles shown here. However, the kewpie mayo and lemon wedge is really the only thing the squid legs need to have the brightness, contrast in texture. Though fried, it doesn't feel heavy at all. 

We both get the same thing. Hakata Ramen normal noodle texture (not hard or soft), light oil (too hot for oily hot soup), medium soup base, yes to sesame seeds, ginger, and scallions. They're out of my beloved eggs so I get the crispy garlic on the side as an extra topping.

With the crispy garlic, really the only extra topping needed. 

The final, customized to order hakata ramen has chashu, crispy garlic (extra cost), ginger, scallions, sesame seeds, and the noodles are much thinner than the ones from daikokuya. It reminds me of angel hair pasta but in a good way. It feels like a lighter ramen but with all the full flavor of the pork broth that's been stewing for hours. I'm not usually one to slurp up all the soup with my ramen so I'm enjoying a sinful dish without all the bloating I usually get from salty food.  

Some drawbacks: Halfway through our meal, a second waitress brings us two bowl of wontons. We tell her we didn't order it. When the check comes, the wontons are on the receipt. We tell her that we didn't order it. They take it off so it's all good. Also, how can a ramen place run out of EGGS at 11:50am, 50 minutes after they open? Perhaps they didn't go get them yet? 

The question is, are they on par with Daikokuya and will I be back? I will definitely be back, if only to try this same ramen with my beloved egg. In the winter, I will probably prefer Daikokuya's thicker noodles and thicker chashu. I know I can get them here too if I pay extra. I like the thinner noodles here for now since I'm craving lighter food. Daikokuya has free garlic paste. Is the garlic chip so much better I have to pay for it? Meh... At the end of the day, it is going to be all about the line anyway.

132 S Central Ave
Los AngelesCA 90013
Neighborhoods: Downtown, Little Tokyo
(213) 687-7108

Hakata Ramen Shin-Sen-Gumi on Urbanspoon
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