How wrong I was.
Imagine my surprise when I read in Around Alhambra (Click on the April 2009 edition, section B, page 11.) that Aji Man is actually owned by a Japanese family, Osami Sasaki, his wife, Mieko, and their son Takatumi. Osami grew up in Kobe, Japan and was trained as a sushi chef before switching over to ramen.
His ramen is Hokkaido-style, a lighter and clearer stock than the milky Kyushu-style tonkotsu broth that's popular at restaurants such as Daikokuya and Santouka. At Aji Man, the ramen is cooked at a lower flame for a clearer broth, and combines pork bones and fish.
Aji Man is located next to Golden Deli Vietnamese Restaurant so parking can be a bit of a pain at peak hours.
Recently, I went with cousin Q, his brothers, and sister-in-law. We ordered the Shio (Japanese Salt) Ramen for $6.25. The broth was quite lighter in appearance and taste than the shio tonkotsu ramen that I'm used to eating at Santouka.
The Shoyu (Japanese Soy Sauce) Ramen, also $6.25, fared better since the soy sauce added more flavor.
The miso ramen for $6.45 was way too salty and strong. We all shared so we had smaller bowls and mixed in half the broth of the shio with the miso for a happier medium.
What I really liked were the noodles. The curly noodles hold much more sauce than typically straight ramen noodles. Though they looked fat and possibly water-logged, they were actually quite firm, chewy, slurpilicious. The pork was a leaner cut, but quite tender given that there wasn't any fat.
Altogether, pretty good for a local mom-and-pop joint, and definitely for when I'm not in the mood for driving far to satisfy my ramen craving.
Then I got home, re-read the article and realized that we hadn't ordered the Sapporo ramen, Osami's signature style. Obviously, I had to go back and remedy that. So the next day, since lil' sis was in town, I talked her into going with me.
We each got a complimentary order of California rolls for mentioning an ad in a certain magazine. You'll have to do your own detective work there since I don't want to send them to the poor house giving everyone free California rolls. But, yes, one for me and one for lil' sis. Free hot tea as well.
I ordered a spicy tuna roll for $3. Most excellent. There are a few hand rolls and larger rolls offered on the menu so that Osami's sushi skills don't get rusty. The spicy tuna had a different flavor from what I'm used to, but in a good way. The portion was also very generous.
Lil' sis ordered the unagi hand roll for $3.50. This was also very good as well.
Ah, the signature Sapporo miso ramen for $7.45. The broth had a lot more complexity than the shio, shoyu, or miso flavors. The miso flavor was more muted, offset by the sweetness of butter, another component of Sapporo-style ramen. The corn, green onion, and mound of bean sprouts was also typical. I know it seems odd to have corn and butter in a ramen, but in this case, it totally worked and I was in love with the broth. Lil' sis loves, loves, loves bean sprouts, so having half the bowl full of it worked for her. The pork was the same as in the other ramens, but chopped into cubes instead.
A close-up of those luscious noodles.
On Thursdays, the shoyu ramen is just $5. And for their one-year anniversary, Friday, April 17th and Saturday, April 18th, the shio and shoyu ramens are only $3 (Dine in only.). $3! What are you waiting for?
After their anniversary is over, do come back and try the signature Sapporo miso ramen.
My other ramen posts:
Daikokuya Original Noodle & Rice-Bowl - Los Angeles (Little Tokyo)
Daikokuya Original Noodle & Rice-Bowl - Monterey Park
Foo Foo Tei Noodle House - Monterey Park (Closed)
Santouka - Costa Mesa
Santouka - Los Angeles
Shin-Sen-Gumi Hakata Ramen - Gardena
Shin-Sen-Gumi Hakata Ramen - Rosemead
Aji Man Japanese Restaurant
821 W. Las Tunas Dr.
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Open 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
1 year ago today, Dau Hu Chien (Vietnamese Fried Tofu).
2 years ago today, lemon garlic roast chicken at Versailles Cuban Food Restaurant - Culver City.