Decent Ramen…yeah, I know…what a shock…in Little Tokyo.
It is amazing the level of discussion, debate and argument that will result if you ask the simple question, where do you get a good bowl of Ramen in Little Tokyo? For years, the answer was a simple one. If you wanted Ramen in Little Tokyo, you went to Daikokuya. It was the staple. It was the answer. It was the one place to go.
It’s also got a line…a long one, that’ll be there every day, no matter what day you’ll come. Which is fine if you want to eat there, and that’s your main mission in life. But if you’re hungry?
Okay, so there’s no massive line waiting outside Mr. Ramen. Does that mean it sucks? No. It don’t think anyone will be confusing it for the next Hipster food destination. It serves…Ramen. It serves up a tasty bowl of Ramen. There are people, few in number from what I can tell, but a few…who actually think Mr. Ramen is better. I don’t know that for sure, since I haven’t been to Daikokuya. Yet.
Now, despite the retro-name and the even more retro feel to the look, Mr. Ramen is a slightly funky affair. It takes some stones to decorate a majority of your walls with assorted Napkin art left by customers. Seriously, they’ve even got a scrapbook of the stuff that didn’t make the walls. As for the art itself, some of isn’t bad. Granted, it’s like being a toddler and having your Mom put your latest scribblings on the Refrigerator door, but it’s a nice touch nonetheless.
But I doubt you’ve come here to view their contributions to the Art World. You’ve come for Ramen, and Mr. Ramen is…well…okay. Ramen is kinda like Pizza; even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good. But great Ramen (like great Pizza) is like tasting sunshine for the first time. Now, Mr. Ramen is not terrible or anything. It’s like I said, pretty good. It’s a nice, serviceable bowl of Ramen. Did it make me forget Orochon or Ajisen or Tsujita L.A. Artisan Noodle? Hardly. If anything, it made me long for those places all the more. Mr. Ramen is going to give you a perfectly acceptable bowl of Ramen. Can’t imagine penalizing them for that.
Now, I went for the Vegetable Miso Ramen, but there are twenty four varieties you can get (including five cold varieties). And if you have any doubts how each and every bowl will play, take a look at the pictures on the wall and pick what looks tastiest to you.
The bowl itself had that gritty, ground taste of good Miso (that was a complement in case you were wondering). The stock is made of vegetables, chicken and pork. It’s a bit lighter than I’m used to, but wasn’t bad. What I didn’t know at the time of my eating, was that you can size up and/or size down your bowl for a $1.50.
As a side dish, I got some Gyoza, which again…wasn’t bad, but was all vegetable. You can get a bowl of Ramen and some Gyoza for a the price of a bowl of Ramen. It’s a good deal for a good lunch.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Nothing really to be worried about. Usually open every time I’ve gone to Little Tokyo. Can’t find the hours online though.
PARKING: Like with all good Little Tokyo eating, consult the Little Tokyo Parking Map, but you’re looking at about $7 bucks at one of the many place. When I go into Little Tokyo nowadays, I’m usually going into the Little Tokyo Complex off Central. It’s covered. It’s the same $7 bucks, and there are usually spaces…even though it can be a little hard to get out.
341 E. 1st St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel: (213) 626-4252