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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Daikokuya Original Noodle & Rice-Bowl - Los Angeles (Little Tokyo)

Do I really need to say anything after this photo? I mean really. Can't you tell the pork will be so tender it melts in your mouth? The ramen noodles will be soft and chewy? The broth will be so flavorful that you'll literally slurp the whole bowl? I wasn't feeling very hungry, but when cousin Q invited me out for ramen at Daikokuya Original Noodle & Rice-Bowl in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo, there was no way I was gonna say no. I'd been hearing him rave about it for so long you see. After our lunch at Shin-Sen-Gumi in Rosemead way back in November, he couldn't stop comparing it to Daikokuya's meltingly tender pork, flavorful broth, and very generous portions. So we headed into Little Tokyo. You might recognize the tower from Showdown in Little Tokyo, starring you know, the very Japanese Brandon Lee and Tia Carrere. Heh. :P While he went inside to put his name on the waitlist, I got a look around. Here, you can just read what the restaurant says makes their ramen so special. After maybe a half hour wait or so? I had wandered down the street for some very cute mochi that I'll show you tomorrow, we went back and waited inside for our table. Daikokuya is very small. Just six booths (there's another booth to my right) and a dozen spots at the counter. Of course we all got the special ramen for $7.50. My cousin asked for extra pork, which was $2 for two more slices. I opted for a ramen and tempura combo for $10.95. First out was our hot green tea. My combo included thinly sliced cabbage salad. On the table were small containers of pickled ginger, pureed garlic, and togarashi (Japanese chili). My tempura was nicely crispy with a good selection of vegetables. I was saving it to dip in the ramen broth though. OK, OK. I know this is what you've all been waiting for. Just look at that bowl and see how rich the broth is. That comes from cooking the pork bones with soy sauce for a full day. Cousin Q had to lift up his slices of pork just so I could see what he means. So tender, it just started falling apart. My cousin literally made humming, yummy noises as he slurped his bowl. And when the noodles were all gone, he supped as much of the broth as possible, getting excited each time he found a small piece of pork in the broth. I'll admit, I was equally excited. This was good stuff. Really good stuff. Really, really good stuff. Here's another look at that bowl after I doctored it up with ginger and togarashi. This was seriously rave-worthy ramen. I thought the hard-boiled egg added a nice touch. I broke it apart, ate the white part that had been seasoned from the broth, and then mashed the egg yolks into the broth. The pork, the broth, the noodles, the generous portions. Everything was perfect. Well, OK, I wouldn't mind more pieces of pork and bamboo shoots. :) Daikokuya was so tasty I went back a couple of days later with lil' sis. We shared a bowl of ramen. Mmm. And ordered the fried spicy tuna for $4.95. The spicy tuna was wrapped in shiso leaf, dipped in tempura batter, and fried. There was a little saucer of sea salt to dip with this. I liked the shiso leaf fried, it was a nice alternative to the usual sushi way of eating spicy tuna. We got the ramen with fried rice combo. Wow! That marvelous black pig that so flavored the broth was used in the fried rice. It was so good lil' sis declared this the best fried rice she's ever had. I had a coupon but totally forgot to use it so I guess I'll have to go back again. :P Who else at at Daikokuya? Henry Chan of Henry Chan's Food Videos also loves Daikokuya. Elmo of Monster Munching had a rather disappointing experience. My other ramen posts: Aji Man Japanese Restaurant - San Gabriel 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 Daikokuya Original Noodle & Rice-Bowl
327 E. First St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012 213-626-1680
Monday-Thursday 11 a.m. - Midnight Friday-Saturday 11 a.m. - 1 a.m. Sunday noon - until soup is gone


  1. Found your blog through Jas'. I have to agree with you whole-heartedly that Nha Trang nem nuong is really king. Was there last December, this is my review:

  2. I can smell the aroma of the pork bone broth/soup!

    Was preparing to go to some ramen place this weekend but when we were there, saw the door locked and the notice saying "reopen summer 2007"...oh, we just ALMOST had the same dine-out :O

  3. You know, I haven't seen a Japanese restaurant out here in Frankfurt yet! The tempura from your photos looks really nice! I'm craving it now!

  4. Yes! Yes! Yes! .. to your 2nd, third and fouth questions :)

  5. Y'know, it's just not nice to see these pics and read your descriptions when I'm stuck here!

  6. I would kill for a place like that in Portland.

  7. Hey WC - Wooo Boy! Daikokuya is really good stuff. Nothing like having good tonkotsu style broth!

  8. D,
    Pork, whether in nem nuong or in my ramen, gets thumbs up from me. :)

    Too bad it was closed. But the point is we were thinking the same food again. :)

    Maybe you can explore the Turkish restaurants in Frankfurt? I know there's a large Turkish population in Germany.

    Well, I guess I didn't have to write the rest of the review then. ;)

    But Nikki,
    You can go after work or on weekends. :)

    I've enjoyed the ramen at Koji's. Not as deeply flavorful, but their noodles are nice and fresh. Umm, NW 22nd location? I can't vouch for the other locations.

    Soooo good. When I was typing this, I was looking for a review from you and noticed you opted for another place instead. I can't remember if it was the wait or if it was closed. But Daikokuya is totally worth the wait for me.

  9. You had me at Daikokuya...this is at the top of my ever growing list of places to eat at in L.A. I haven't been once, and you went twice in one week! That shiso leaf thingy looks awesome.

  10. Hey WC - Yeah, it's always waaaay toooo crowded and I'm starving, or I'm too early and they're closed and I'm starving......I haven't been able to time my visits correctly. It is without a doubt the best Tonkotsu-style ramen in the area.

  11. Elmo,
    Trust me, once you've tasted this ramen, you'll head back right away too!

    Did you notice their new hours? They're open continuously now until late at night!

  12. You must must must try their pork bowl and gyoza. I actually skip the ramen so that I have room for these.

  13. Hi anon,
    I actually find their pork bowl a bit unremarkable. I think the deliciousness of the pork comes out better in the fried rice. :)


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