It doesn’t take a massive amount of research to realize just how much Los Angeles loves ramen. It’s everywhere. And thanks to our West Coast location, LA has become somewhat of a testing ground for every Japanese ramen spot looking to expand its footprint into the USA. So we don’t just have a whole bunch of ramen - we have some of the best and most authentic ramen in the country.
From old-school Little Tokyo classics to modern vegan spots, you have your pick of pretty much any ramen experience you might be looking for. Plus, now that the temperature has lowered to a frigid 64 degrees, it’s prime time to bring these 12 soups into your life.
Daikokuya is the mother of LA ramen, and the main reason you transitioned from that sad, microwaveable bowl of noodles in your dorm room to the real thing. With five locations across the city, Daikokuya is definitely a bit of a chain these days, but a visit to the original Little Tokyo location for one of their traditional bowls is a pilgrimage every ramen disciple must take. The lines can get long, but the old-school, no-frills space is the exact setting you want to be housing a bowl of noodles in.
We’re combining Tsujita LA and its smaller sister spot across the street, Tsujita Annex, mostly because despite eating at both multiple times over the years, we can’t really figure out what the f*ck the difference between the places is. Whichever you choose (probably just the one with the shortest line), you won’t be disappointed - the tsukemen dip ramen is one of the greatest bowls of noodle soup in Los Angeles.
Santouka has been open since 2006, which makes it practically ancient on the local ramen circuit. It’s also pretty basic, but in the actually basic sense, not in the person who only wears sweatpants and Stan Smiths sense. Inside the Mitsuwa food court in Mar Vista, you line up, place your order, and wait for them to call your number over the loudspeaker. You should be getting the Hokkaido-style shio (salt) ramen, which is a little lighter than other bowls around. Make sure you also leave time for roaming the Japanese market and stocking up on every flavored Pocky you can find.
The waits at Silverlake Ramen can border on the ridiculous. The spicy tonkatsu ramen is the thing to get, but the real secret here is that there’s no reason to wait in that line. Just get takeout. We promise it tastes just as good on your couch after a 15-minute wait as it does at a table after an hour.
If you’re wondering where the longest lines for ramen are in the city, look no further. But here’s the good news - Tatsu’s worth the wait. The Melrose space, while technically its second location, has become an all-out mob scene any time of the day, and everyone is here for that rich, pork-based tonkotsu broth. You’ll see some other things on the menu like a pork bun and the somehow-still-a-thing ramen burger, but stay focused - the ramen is why you’re here. The future is now: no waiters, only iPads.
Build-your-own ramen is a concept that sounds pretty gimmicky, but Shin-Sen-Gumi works - the ramen is great and the operation’s well run. By build-your-own, we don’t just mean you get to throw a few green onions on top. From the thickness of the noodles to the richness of the broth, you can customize your bowl to any degree you want here, and that’s the kind of power that keeps people lining up.
There’s absolutely nothing about vegan ramen that sounds appealing. But make no doubt about it, Ramen Hood is fantastic. The Grand Central Market stall makes their broth from kelp and mushrooms, and somehow it’s delicious. The end result is a lighter ramen still packed with flavor that doesn’t require an hour-long nap immediately afterwards. And yes, that’s an egg you see floating on top, but it’s also somehow vegan. Shrug emoji.
Ramen Tatsunoya is one of the newer places on this list, but its spot is well-earned. The popular Japanese import opened in Pasadena in 2015 and almost instantly the lines were out the door. Maybe because Pasadena had never seen a bowl of ramen before, but more likely it’s because Tatsynoya’s bowls of ramen are just that delicious. If you’re a thin noodle kind of person, the koku tonkotsu is your move, but we tend to go all in on the thick-noodle spicy miso bowl, extra pork. Obviously.
You probably know Men Oh as that place you go to when the lines at Daikokuya and Shin-Sen-Gumi are too long. But despite not getting as much attention as its Little Tokyo neighbors, Men Oh wins you over with its fantastic service, low-key atmosphere, and unique Tokushima style ramen that comes with stir-fried pork belly on top. Yes, it’s as good as it sounds.
With over 25 locations across North America, Jinya is a bonafide chain. But it’s a chain that we will continue to visit whenever a craving hits. The move at this modern spot is always the spicy umami miso ramen or the cha cha cha if you’re looking to get smacked in the back of the throat with a garlic bomb. Also, its Mid-Wilshire location is a great option when the Tatsu line is wrapped around the city.
Tentenyu is a newcomer to the ramen clusterf*ck that is Sawtelle Boulevard, but has two excellent points of difference: little-to-no waiting, and a chicken, rather than a pork-based broth. While not exactly the same thing as eating a salad, this does mean that the broth is lighter than others, and that you might actually be able to have a productive afternoon after eating it.