J and I love our sake. We love it cold, in a glass overflowing into a masu………..especially if it’s Shichiken brand. Let’s just say that we definitely had a little lovefest with the sake two Fridays ago at Z Sushi. It was fun while the party lasted, but the next day we were both seeing spots and laying in the fetal position, making “uuuuuuuuuuggggggggggggg” sounds. Beloved sake, why must you kick our butts so hard?
After we managed to stand upright without wanting to run for the bathroom, we decided that the only cure would be a big, hot bowl of ramen. Funny, since J and I have never gone for ramen in Los Angeles. Never. Seems strange, I know, but I guess it just isn’t on the top of our list when it comes to Japanese food (sorry Rameniac!). We’re usually sushi, soba or donburi people, but ramen sounded like the perfect medicine for our sake-induced hangover. We jumped into the car and headed to Little Tokyo.
Even though it was 3:00 PM, there was still a line outside of Daikokuya. We waited patiently as the scent of ramen wafted through the air. We started getting impatient, however, when we saw about eight people leave the counter at the same time, but there weren’t enough waitresses to clean their messes and seat us. We literally stared at the empty spots for 15 minutes before someone finally wiped them down and seated us. That was frustrating, but where else are two hungover people gonna go at 3:30 in the afternoon?! I was starving and couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into anything at that point.
We decided to order one plate of gyoza and two Daikokuya ramens. I don’t know why gyoza is a common accompaniment to ramen, but it just is. In Japan, you almost always order a small plate of the dumplings with ramen…..kind of like curry and coffee. I’ve never had the latter myself, but you see “Coffee and Curry” signs all over Japan, as if it’s some match made in heaven. Personally, the combo does not appeal to me in the least bit. Gyoza with anything, however, is a match that suits me anytime, anywhere. I LOVE gyoza and couldn’t wait to try theirs.
We could see everything being made from our counter seats. Even though the vat of boiling tonkotsu (pork bone) soup was right in front of us, we weren’t too hot sitting there. It was nice to watch the guys make fried rice, tontaktsu for the donburi and boil the ramen noodles in the individual colanders. Man, were we getting hungry. Just when we couldn’t stand it anymore, our waitress brought our gyoza, and they looked fantastic. Browned and crisp on the outside, the filling wasn’t nearly as flavorful as Mom’s but it did the trick. We were ready for ramen!
Oh – before we get to the ramen, I must say….there was a family of five sitting at a table behind us. Mom, Dad and three if the biggest little annoying spoiled brat boys I have ever seen in my LIFE! The little rats were bothering EVERYONE in the restaurant- playing with balloons that kept landing in people’s food, screaming while stuffing their faces at the same time…..and Mom and Dad just sat there, helpless. I had half the mind to go pull them out of the place by their ears. Seriously- it was so friggin’ annoying. Don’t you hate it when kids are obviously ruining the dining experience of everyone in the restaurants and the parents just SIT THERE? I should have pulled mom and dad out by their ears. Ugh! Sorry, but when I was comin’ up, my parents would have never even allowed us to create such a scene. Honestly- have some respect!
Ok, nice rant eh? Like I said, I was hungover, but even if I wasn’t I would have kicked their little beehinds if it wouldn’t land me behind bars. I mean, who wants to be in jail when they’re hungover? Ok, back to the ramen. The two steaming bowls finally came, and we dug right in. The noodles were great- nice and slightly chewy. I loved the char sui….I mean, it’s pork with pork fat on it…what’s not to like, right? The bamboo shoots were also tasty, but the egg was really dry. I realize it’s hard to keep the yolk soft when you’re making so many bowls of ramen, but it was way overcooked and just broke into a million pieces. The soup, which many Japanese consider to be the most important part of ramen, was good but needed more…….salt. I know it sounds crazy, since most ramen tends to be on the salty side, but I kept resisting the urge to put some soy sauce in my soup. I later found out that J felt the same way. We both finished it all, nonetheless, and did actually feel better. The ice cold oolong tea was the perfect thing to wash it all down with.
I think I’ll have to try the donburi on my next visit to Daikokuya. Although it hit the hungover spot, I think I need the soup in my ramen to be a bit more flavorful. I have to admit though, I was transported back to Japan while sitting in that little ramen shop. The vintage Japanese signs and calls of “irahshai!” took me back to my days in Tokyo. The service leaves a LOT to be desired (i.e., they move like a herd of TURTLES!) but the food was pretty good.
327 E. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012