Is It Any Good?

Watch as my preconceived notions get blasted to a million bits at this Ramen place in Hollywood.

Urban Ramen on Urbanspoon
Urban Ramen on Foodio54

Okay. Here’s the thing. You know from previous posts I’m generally iffy on…

On…

I…I don’t know how else to say it.

It’s going to sound mean and terrible when I do say it…so…

Fine.  I’m iffy on traditional Asian Foods that are not prepared by actual Asians.

I’m sorry but there it is.

Out there in the world today, there are Asian Restaurants that primarily powered, run and managed by people who are not Asian, but nonetheless have some kind of affinity toward the food and the culture.  These restaurants are not bad, but…boy can you get a better deal by just traveling a little bit further, and daring a little bit more.

Now, I have had good Asian meals at places that were primarily run and managed by non-Asian staffs. Gingergrass in Silver Lake comes immediately to mind. I’ve had decent times at Wokcano. Still, if given a chance, I’d probably go to Golden Deli first before anything, and you’d probably find me at any place in San Gabriel ahead of Wokcano.

So what to make of Urban Ramen. Every fiber in my being was telling me, bad news.  From where it was located: the Hollywood/WestHollywood Border. The way it looked, with all the TV Screens, and the green ivy along the way. Nothing about Urban Ramen said traditional Ramen joint…

…until I walked inside and realized what I prejudiced jackass I was being.  Because the fact that it doesn’t look like your Momma’s Ramen joint is exactly the friggin’ point!

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First of all, at least according L.A. Eater, Urban was originally a place called Takara. Takara was the standard issue Ramen joint, but has gone through a bit of a “hipsterization”.

Hey, I’m just coining L.A. Eater’s phrase.

Still, I went in with a mess of preconceived notions, and they totally fooled me. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING about this place said good Ramen joint…

Except uh…you know…the really good Ramen they served me.

I mean, they had Black Tonkotsu Ramen.

BLACK TONKOTSU RAMEN, I SAID!! You had to have a certain cut to your jib in order to have that on the menu, and Lord was it–

–wait a minute. I’ve got a “What Should I Get” section on this blog. Just wait till then.

The approach is easy enough. Urban Ramen sits on the edge of a otherwise unremarkable Strip Mall on Hollywood/West Hollywood border. You’ll note it for it’s (yes) green ivy, or green grass covered wall. (I didn’t check for a species). You’ll walk in, sign your name in on the sheet, and wait for a table or a place at the bar.

Yes, it’s in a weird part of town for Ramen, but…consider it underserved. Yes, it doesn’t have the look and feel of a traditional Ramen place, but then again that all depends on what your definition of a traditntal Ramen place is. Since it’s all about the Ramen for me, I’ll give Urban Ramen some good marks.

 

WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Well, duh. You’re getting R—

Oh, which Ramen should I get? Yeah, I guess that would be a tougher question.IMG_0378-2

Since the great Ramen Yokocho Festival of 2014, I have fallen in love with Black Ramen, so when I saw it on the menu (listed as Tonkotsu Black Ramen), I jumped at the chance.

Basically, “Black” Ramen includes some Black Garlic Oil. And in Urban Ramen’s case, also adds some pork belly, green onion, Red Ginger, bean sprouts, shredded chilis, and a seasoned egg.  Very delicious.  Very tasty.  The most fantastical, best Ramen in town? Not yet, but I’m considering it for the conversation in the future.  Urban Ramen will be in my “Ramen” rotation for the foreseeable future.

My Vegetarian friends (and yes, I have vegetarian friends — don’t we all?) have two options. They make a Veggie Miso Ramen, with cabbage, mushroom and spinach, bell pepper friend onion and corn (a Northern Japanese innovation…or so I’ve been told).

They also make a Vegan Ramen, which is cabbage, corn, mushroom, spinach, Tokyo Negi (which is a type of onion), fried onion and seaweed.

My vegetarian friends will eat quite well at Urban Ramen, just not as well as me.

I also snacked on upon some Spicy Pork Sausage. Similar to what I’ve had at Orochon Ramen in Burbank. Very good. Whetted my appetite quite nicely.  Just understand that by “spicy” they mean tasty and/or flavorful.  This doesn’t measure on the burn scale.

 

IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Nothing too concerning. If there is a crowd, there is a sign up sheet at the front entrance. Make sure you hit that first, otherwise, you’ll be shown right in.

They have a Ramen bar, overlooking the kitchen. Perfect for single seating. That’s where I was, and I was most happy to get my dinner and a show.

Yet, they seem to show a lot of Animation on their three big screen monitors inside the restaurant. The day I was there, it was Rise of the Guardians starring the voices of Chris Pine and Alec Baldwin. I drove past a couple of days ago, and I swear they were showing Howl’s Moving Castle. So, Animation yet. Televised sport activities, who knows?

 

PARKING: Adequate. Urban Ramen sits at the far edge of small Hollywood Strip Mall. The Parking there is free, so…that’s a good thing.

Theoretically there is a goodly number of spaces, but…it also looks like it’s perpetually filled up. Still, if you want to go to Urban Ramen, go ahead and pull into the lot. Usually with these perpetually filled Lots, the spots are usually on perpetual rotation as well. Someone is always leaving. Jump in and take advantage. Otherwise, you’re taking your chances with street parking.

 

MAP DIRECTIONS:
Urban Ramen
7300 W Sunset Blvd, Ste. A
Los Angeles, CA 90046

Tel: (323) 512-6077

Hours:
Monday-Wednesday: 11:00 am – 2:00 am
Thursday-Saturday: 11:00 am – 3:00 am
Sunday: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm