While in LA for work I decided to research some great Ramen close to where I was staying and DAIKOKUYA ORIGINAL NOODLE & RICE BOWL kept appearing in all my searches. After five minutes, I came to the realization that this is one of the most popular and well-reviewed Ramen joints in the City of Angels, so far be it from me not to give it a fair shake. Located in LA’s “Little Tokyo”, DAIKOKUYA is a blink and you’ll miss it Ramen spot and that is really only visible by the line-up outside and man is it a wait to be seated. The three of us waited 105 minutes to be seated, 105 minutes!!!! Most would have given up after 45 minutes but this was my one night to try fabled Ramen in LA, I was not be deterred by a measly line-up! My Ramen cohorts were getting antsy and we were all getting hungry but I could not be persuaded otherwise, I was here for DAIKOKUYA RAMEN and by god, I was going to get it! After the polar ice caps melted and mankind inhabited Pluto, we finally got to sit at our table and order away.
DAIKOKUYA offers three types of Ramen: Daikokuya (the signature Tokutsu base that is infused with a secret blend of soy sauce), the Spicy Miso (a mild spice level with a blend of three types of Miso) and Tsukemen (think of deconstructed Ramen with all the ingredients served separately). I went for the signature DAIKOKUYA RAMEN and asked for it Koterri style which means richer broth made from pork back fat. With a bunch of flavorful appies ordered to satiate us while we waited for our bowls, we dined on some great Gyoza, Tokoyaki, Edemame, and pickled Veggies all of which were enjoyable. Finally the Ramen arrived!
My Koterri Daikokuya Ramen looked impressive. Korubuta Pork, Chashu, marinated egg, bamboo, sprouts, green onions and sesame seeds, plus a silky creamy looking broth. My mouth was salivating but disappointed. This special broth? This additional Koterri? BLAND. I was shocked! Where’s the richness? Where’s the complexity? Where’s the flavor? I looked up at my cohorts and their expressions said exactly what I was feeling, this broth is not very flavorful. What a shame, the broth is fine but the way it’s sold led me to believe I was in for a much more of a flavorful mouthful. Alas, I was not. All the toppings were fresh and tasty but I was really thrown off by the blandness of the broth. All these people lining up for this Ramen and this is what their signature is? Maybe it was an off night? Maybe I should have ordered the Spicy Miso Ramen? Who knows but I can honestly say, this was the first time since I’ve been reviewing Ramen joints that my expectations were not met and I left disappointed… I still ate the whole bowl though.
Obviously my review of DAIKOKUYA is far from the norm as there are line-ups every day and online reviews singing the praises of this tiny joint in Little Tokyo. Unfortunately for me, broth is of upmost importance to me and the lack of richness & depth in the broth with the almost two hour wait to get it in my belly left me unsatisfied with this jewel in the LA Ramen crown. Would I eat there again? Sure, I am a sucker for Spicy Miso and would love to give it and DAIKOKUYA another shot. Would I wait another two hours to do so? Probably not.
- Dish: Daikokuya Ramen, Koterri-style
- Location: Daikokuya Original Noodle & Rice Bowl
- Address: 327 E 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012
- Price: $9.50
- Extras: Koterri-Style