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 ramen in the country.
From old-school Little Tokyo classics to newer vegan spots, you have your pick of pretty much any ramen experience you might be looking for. But for us, these are the 15 best ramen spots in LA.
Daikokuya is the mother of LA ramen and the main reason we transitioned from that sad, microwaveable version in our 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 shop 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.
You used to have to literally pour one out for Valley-dwellers forced to brave traffic into the city for a decent bowl of ramen. Not after Burosu opened in November 2020, giving Studio City and everyone else from over the hill the sweet, sweet taste of ramen within a 20-minute drive. Burosu offers the plant-based Burraku and Gurin for vegans as well as the standout spicy Reddo flavored with chili oil and sesame paste.
Santouka has been open since 2006, which makes it practically ancient on the local ramen circuit. It’s also pretty basic, but in the actual 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.
Before “plant-based” became a meaningless buzzword, Rakkan had already started selling its line of kombu-based vegetarian ramen in 2011 in Tokyo. Having expanded to LA, the Japanese mini-chain now offers an array of light, flavorful ramen bowls with fanciful names like Garnet (miso-flavored), Pearl (shio-based), and Amber (soy-based). Yes, there are vegan options, but even if you’re primarily a meat-eater, you can come away from any of Rakken’s three LA locations feeling, just for a brief moment, like you might briefly grasp the pinnacle of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Our favorite, the Amber, lets the umami flavors shine against the thin noodles and a few slices of chashu.
The waits at Silverlake Ramen can border on the ridiculous. The spicy tonkotsu 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.
Mogumogu specializes in mazemen, broth-less ramen typically flavored with a chili and garlic soy sauce. With cheese, curry, and vegan varieties, the Sawtelle shop’s mazemen bowls pack all the flavor without any of the need for soup. In hot or cold weather, it’s a welcome change of pace from tonkotsu’s neverending reign across the city.
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, is busy basically any time of 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.
Kotoya is the most underrated ramen spot on the Westside, and the only place we’d gladly let charge us $2 for green onions and $2.50 for nori sheets. Every penny is worth it to support this tiny Palms noodle counter though, which offers a top-tier tonkotsu broth that manages to be rich, flavorful, and fatty without being absolutely overwhelming. In the Before Times, piling on tableside spicy pepper and oil was essential. Now, just ask for some on the side when you place an order.
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.
Ramen Tatsunoya first opened in Pasadena in 2015 and almost instantly the lines were out the door. Seven years later, it’s still Northeast LA’s most popular ramen spot, and if you’re a thin noodle kind of person, the koku tonkotsu is the way to go. However, we tend to go all-in on the thick-noodle spicy miso bowl, extra pork. Obviously.
Located kitty-corner from Sqirl and Melody Wine Bar, Ken’s Ramen is part of Virgil Village’s ongoing gentrification. The location also represents a homecoming for LA native Will Hu, who started Ken’s on the East Coast before moving home. The original paitan ramen leans towards the sweeter side, with all the richness typically associated with tonkotsu (even though the broth is chicken-based) and a worthwhile bet for anyone keeping kosher or halal. The spicy Hell version is even better, with their house-made chili oil bringing dimensions of both heat and added flavor.
You might know Men Oh as that place to go 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 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 spicy umami miso ramen is our favorite option here, 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’s last man standing might be its sole Culver City location, but its main selling point - chicken, not pork-based broth - means it remains a solid go-to spot for those looking for halal or kosher options, as well as anyone who’d like to try something outside the traditional tonkotsu realm. This means the broth is lighter than others and that you might actually be able to have a productive afternoon after eating it.