Kinchans – Los Angeles, CA

2119 Sawtelle Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310) 445-0031

Happy day after Thanksgiving! Another perfect day for ramen!! My initial destination today was Asahi Ramen (after a reader emailed me to say she can’t believe I’ve never blogged Asahi), but since I didn’t have time to wait in a long line, Kinchans was the suitable replacement. Being on Sawtelle during the middle of the day for lunch brought back many fond memories of my college days. Oh how I wish I could go back. Anyway, Kinchans wasn’t around back then so hopefully those memories won’t interfere with this review. I just want to quickly mention that the service here was great. I was able to get in and out in 20 minutes fully satisfied.

Shoyu-ramen: An average ramen that was somehow better than average. That’s the only way I can describe it. The simple soup was slightly strong and surprisingly satisfying. It’s not as complex as some other places, but you can still taste the effort that went into it. The noodles, at first taste, felt overcooked due to its slick coating, but after a few more bites they actually tasted pretty good. They even reminded me of my favorite thick soumen noodles that mom used to make. The toppings (chashu, menma, spinach, corn, and negi) blended well with the rest of it. Although the chashu wasn’t the moist kurobuta kind, it was still full of flavor. I would go back again.

Gyoza: This gyoza was also surprising. They were very juicy and full of garlic. Definitely not a disappointment. The only downside to them is that the garlic will stay with you throughout the day, but is that really a downside?

Eboshi Noodle Bar – Lomita, CA

2383 Lomita Blvd. #116
Lomita, CA 90717
(310) 325-6674

Located on the outskirts of Torrance, Eboshi Noodle Bar has all the makings of a good ramen-ya. From your typical ramen (shoyu, shio, and miso) to the more exotic (gomoku, kanitama, mabo, and toku miso), Eboshi has all the tools to compete with the best of them, including yakisoba, donburi, and several izakaya-style dishes. As I walked in to grab a seat at the counter, the crowded hustle-and-bustle environment got me all excited. This place must be good, I thought…

Shoyu-ramen: Contrary to what I was wishing for, I wouldn’t be receiving anything good from Eboshi on this day before my birthday. All the excitement I felt upon entering came crashing to an unexpected halt. This shoyu-ramen was a HUGE disappointment and that may be an understatement. I couldn’t believe how bland the soup was! My taste-buds kept reaching for a flavor that didn’t seem to exist. My only explanation for this blandness could be due to the various exotic ramen on the menu that add-in their own flavor. But still, there’s no excuse for this shoyu-ramen being so bland. The noodles were also disappointing. Slippery and slightly overcooked, they couldn’t hold up and rescue this ramen from the hole it was in. The toppings (chashu, egg, menma, seaweed, and negi) were the only highlight in this mediocre mess. Since I was really hoping for Eboshi Noodle Bar to do well, let’s just say I ordered the wrong ramen. Next time, I’ll have to try the gomoku-ramen. And yes, I did say next time.

Gyoza: The gyoza was decent. There was a lot of flavor but they still couldn’t rescue the ramen.

Chahan: This was the best part of the meal. It’s not the best I’ve ever had, but it definitely kept me from walking out. I would get it again.

UPDATED on 12/28/2008:

Gomoku Ramen: So I finally made it back to try the Gomoku Ramen. Man, was that a mistake! I really hoped it would be better, but unfortunately I don’t think I’ll ever be going back. The egg tasted like it was soaked in glass cleaner. I’ll leave it up to your imagination for what the rest tasted like.

Orochon Ramen – Los Angeles, CA

123 Astronaut E. S. Onizuka St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 617-1766

Whenever I hear someone talk about Orochon ramen, it’s almost always about the “Special 2” ramen and the “wall of bravery” or the nine levels of spiciness. Rarely do I hear anything about the actual quality of ramen. Although I still plan to take the challenge one day, this day was just meant for unveiling the truth behind all the gimmicks.

Shoyu-ramen (Level 4 – Orochon): Level 4 is the signature Orochon ramen. It’s your average shoyu-ramen with a little (or lot depending on your taste) spiciness added. To get straight to the point, I do not understand this ramen nor its concept. And I don’t understand what all the hype is about and why this place is usually packed. Maybe I’m just old school. I like spicy foods, but I also like it when spicy foods have character. The soup was so bland that it was almost like drinking spicy salt water. The noodles were even worse. They had a tough undercooked feel that tasted pasty. The toppings (pork, menma, negi, konbu, and bellpeppers) were sparse and just odd. I’ve never seen bellpeppers in a shoyu-ramen before. Now I’m not sure if I even want to try the “Special 2” ramen. Not because I don’t think I can survive the spiciness, but because I don’t think I can survive the bland ugliness. I wonder if they’ll let me try the challenge with ramen from Daikokuya!

Gyoza: These oddly-shaped shumai-like gyoza were juicy and full of flavor. A good way to extinguish any minor flare-ups.