First class Ramen in West Los Angeles.
Jonathan Gold listed Tsujita L.A. Artisan Noodle as one of this top ten Ramen Places in the L.A. Times recently. Between that and buzz I’ve been getting from friends, I decided it was time to check this place out.
It’s really deep in a part of West L.A. that I’ve never associated with the Asian Community, but it has exploded in recent years. (Truth be told, I’ve only associated part of West L.A. with the first Best Buy in town, and long term Storage facilities).
You’ve got a lot of eclectic Asian places in the area now, along with a lot of new, high end Real Estate. Basically, the West L.A. Snobs that have always annoyed you (okay, they’ve annoyed me too) only now, they’re Asian-American West L.A. snobs.
Hey, at least the food’s good.
Tsujita L.A. Artisan Noodle is, believe it or not, part of a chain. But like my beloved Din Tai Fung, it is the only American Location of what is otherwise an Asian chain. The other five locations are in Tokyo (4), and Bangkok.
To call this place both cozy and busy is an insult to cozy places and busy places alike. Come Lunch the joint is packed. There will be a line outside, albeit a reasonably small one. Expect to sign up at the door, and wait a bit.
Like I said, it’s crowded in there.
If it’s just you, or if you don’t mind, you can roll up to what must otherwise be the Sushi Bar. Your order will be taken forthwith. You’ll get a chance to say hi to your neighbor, though they will be ignoring you (too busy enjoying their noodles — and with good reason). You have have a bit of a nip, Beer and Wine available. Kick back and wait with heady anticipation for your meal.
And it’s a damn good bowl of Ramen, expertly prepared. Their only problem, it seems, is the hype that folks like Gold have justifiably built around it. But for me, I plan on remaining faithful to my local Ajisen, and to Orochon. Besides, they’re way easier to get to.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Well, lunch-wise, you have a choice. Yes, you can (and probably should) get the Ramen.
The stock is a bit different, yet familiar too. It’s apparently a blend of Chicken (mostly Chicken) some pork and fish stock. My seafood allergy wasn’t affected in the least. You have an option (and this is way new to me) of what texture you want your noodles cooked at: soft, medium or hard. The restaurant recommends: hard. Then, like Orochon you can throw in some additions, like seasoned boiled eggs and the like.
You know me and eggs, so…guess which one I chose?
The noodles are a bit different than what you may be used to. These were whiter, and yes tougher, but in a good way. You can feel they were handmade. The bowl is smaller than you’re used to, but that is also a good thing probably. It comes adorned with scallions, a bit of Nori and whatever add-ons you threw in. It’s a good bowl.
Now, you have a choice. There is a soup called Tsukemen, which comes with big, soft, fat Udon noodles (at least I’ve always known them as Udon Noodles.). I wasn’t familiar with the meal, so I didn’t get it, but there are handy instructions on the menu of how to enjoy your meal. (It actually reminded me of Soba, in a way).
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Ahhh, once again, a restaurant that proves the need for the Important Safety Tips. Here goes.
Tsujita does not take Credit Cards. It is Cash Only, and doesn’t exactly emphasize that point on its otherwise lovely website.
There is a Tomato Bank in the Strip Mall just across the street, and they’ll spank you for $3.00 on top of what you’re withdrawing, but you can get cash close by if you need it. Be prepared to spend about $20 a person.
Also, Tsujita is a full-on Japanese Restaurant, focusing in on a Japanese Clientele, but the Ramen part of the restaurant…only happens at Lunchtime. So if you go there for dinner…ixnay on the amenray.
PARKING: They choices here are metered street or Valet. If you’re looking for Street Parking, forget it. I think the place is crowded 24-7. You’d have more luck hitting the powerball. There is a Valet stand in back of the restaurant, that is technically free, but takes tips.
Do me, you and everyone else in America a favor…don’t go cheap here. Tip these guys. Two or three bucks will do. It’s what they should probably be charging for the Valet service anyway.
Tsujita L.A. Artisan Noodle
2057 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Tuesday: 12:00 am – 3:00 pm
All other days: 11:00 am-3:00 pm, 5:00 pm-12:00 am