Getting Good Ramen

By on Friday, January 7th, 2011

Ramen Noodles © Mark Meyer

Editor’s Note: For those who read Wednesday’s post on ramen and are now wandering hungrily around their neighborhood in search of sustenance in a bowl, Gayle Sato provides a map:

Need some direction? Check out Not only do you get an encyclopedic list of ramenya in Southern California and selected cities around the country and across Japan, but you’ll get schooled in what separates good ramen from the mediocre.

In Southern California, San Jose, Vancouver, Chicago or New Jersey, check out Santouka Ramen. It’s a chain operation and the atmosphere tends toward fast food (think food court), but there’s nothing hasty about the care and quality that goes into the bowl.

Looking for a slightly different flavor? We tried the Sapporo Lovers (miso) ramen at Ramen Mottainai (310-538-3250) in Gardena, California. Along with the sharp, slightly fermented flavor of miso, we loved the charred taste of the broth.

The best alternative Marc Matsumoto could think of to standing in line at Ippudo in New York was to spend hours making his own ramen at home. Rameniac Rickmond Wong disapproved of the long wait at Ippudo but waited nonetheless. “It’s good,” he says, “and it’s one of the hottest restaurants in New York.”

More buzz: Hapa Ramen in San Francisco’s Ferry Building gets high praise for its Big Daddy Ramen Bowl with slow-cooked pork, fried chicken, locally-sourced vegetables and egg. Biwa restaurant in Portland, Oregon, dishes up chicken ramen and a full slate of izakaya bar food, including kara-age (deep fried) kimchi. Next time you’re in Vegas, take a break from the buffet line (and the celebrity chef routine) at Monta Noodle House (702-367-4600), where the miso ramen comes with butter and corn.
Still need a clue? Yelp it. Though ramen culture isn’t full-blown in every city, ramen cultists exist everywhere. They’ll tell you where to find that elusive bowl of authenticity and whether or not it’s worth the slurp.

Written by Gayle Sato

Gayle Sato is a good eater. When she isn't writing about personal finance and the joys of the credit union industry, she can be found cleaning her plate at ethnic joints around Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Seattle, New York and wherever else life takes her. At home in Redondo Beach she cooks for two fabulous children, who refer to her as the "Gravy Master."

1 Comment

  1. Penny Sisto says:

    Just love that Gayle Sato! Besides being a great mom, a great cook and wonderful friend…..she’s just plain quick witted and funny as hell!

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