The city’s ramen scene may have diversified in recent years, but pork-based tonkotsu broth remains the Southland’s tried-and-true flavor king. Made from boiling pork bones for eight hours or more, its rich creaminess is unparalleled - the precise reason why you can find hundreds of ramen spots serving it, from Venice to the the Valley. Each place puts its own unique spin on it, with differing levels of salt, fat, and some variant on the bowl’s hallmark toppings: pork chashu, green onions, and a soy sauce-flavored soft-boiled egg. Here are the 10 best spots for tonkotsu across LA.
At this point, you can’t talk about ramen in LA without mentioning Tsujita’s mini-empire, which now boasts six restaurants, including an omakase sushi spot. Though made famous citywide for their tsukemen dipping noodles, the tonkotsu broths at both Tsujita LA and the neighboring Annex are equally impressive. The Annex’s version is richer, while the tonkotsu at Tsujita LA, the original, is subtler in flavor - especially more so than their famous tsukemen. It’s also available at their takeout-only Mid-City location, which has taken the pressure off Sawtelle’s crowded street parking situation.
With five locations across the county, Daikokuya has reached chain status, but that hasn’t compromised the top-notch quality of their tonkotsu broth. One of LA ramen’s earliest standouts, Daikokuya’s pork-fat infused ramen is still worth the sometimes hour-plus wait. Though some ramen fans might decamp to Tsujita for its especially rich tsukemen, Daikokuya’s tonkotsu packs all the flavor with only a slight chance of inducing sleep afterward. The Little Tokyo original may be the restaurant’s most famous outpost, but its other, less crowded locations offer the same tonkotsu broth with tender pork belly chashu, a lusciously soft-boiled egg, and now-requisite veggie toppings: bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, and green onions.
Confusingly, this popular ramen spot can now also be found in Santa Monica, Koreatown, DTLA, and Long Beach. Its original Sunset Boulevard location once boasted ridiculous waits, though the pandemic has considerably curbed its in-person crowds. The real secret is to just get takeout, which you’ve probably gotten really good at since last March. With a creamy, almost opaque broth, Silverlake Ramen’s tonkotsu has managed to stand out despite the city’s crowded ramen scene, and the restaurant’s chashu seals the deal on a satisfying bowl, every time.
Kotoya is the most underrated Westside ramen spot and the only place I’d gladly let charge me $2 for green onions and $2.50 for nori sheets. Every penny is worth it to support this tiny Palms noodle counter, whose nuanced take on tonkotsu manages to be rich, flavorful, and fatty without being absolutely overwhelming. In the Before Times, piling on table-side spicy pepper and oil was essential. Now, just ask for some on the side when you place an order.
Tatsu Ramen is like that flaky friend from high school - inconsistent at times, but you’ll find yourself enjoying every moment when you do finally find time to connect. It has historically drawn some of the longest lines in the city, with crowds now largely relegated to long wait times on delivery apps - though there is some outdoor seating. With a tonkotsu broth that takes 28 hours to prepare, everything from the milder “Old Skool” to its most popular item, the “Bold Ramen,” you can’t really go wrong with Tatsu - unless you simply just can’t wait.
Since 2015, Tatsunoya has kept Pasadena well-fed on the ramen front, rising to the status of Northeast LA’s most popular tonkotsu spot. If you’re a thin noodle kind of person, the koku tonkotsu is the way to go, but we tend to go all-in on the thick-noodle spicy miso bowl, extra pork. Obviously.
This bonafide chain has dozens of locations across North America, and that’s for good reason. Its tonkotsu broth, which forms the base for its dizzying ramen varieties, is consistently strong, whether on its own or in variations like the spicy umami miso or the garlic lovers’ “Cha Cha Cha” bowl.
We love Silverlake Ramen just as much as you do, but here’s the great news - they have another spot in Highland Park with an almost identical menu and no hour-long waits. That means you can get the same fantastic tonkotsu ramen before your downward spiral begins. And if by this point you’re feeling burnt out on ramen, their rice bowls, which can be substituted with quinoa, are also excellent.
With eight locations across Los Angeles, Kai Ramen is a mini-chain that’s managed to find a niche in neighborhoods spanning from the 818 to the 626. Its shoyu tonkotsu ramen broth is a solid option in Sherman Oaks, with thin noodles and substantial cuts of pork belly.
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.