“Ramen with a soul” in West Los Angeles.
I don’t know why, but the iPads along the wall didn’t surprise me.
No, we’re not talking some kind of restaurant “Spidey Sense”, but it seemed inevitable that one of these days our little Tablets were going to replace Menus, and…maybe Waitresses themselves.
It does give Tastu Ramen a slightly different feel. A little more modern, a little more L.A.
Tastu Ramen is one of the newer Ramen Joints that have opened up in the ever-growing, ever expanding Sawtelle District in West L.A. With Tsujita LA literally across the street, you do have to do something to distinguish yourself. So why not walk in, and before you’ve done anything else, place your order and pay for your meal with one of the iPads stationed along the wall.
Anyone familiar with a Tablet will get how it works. Just go through the menu of options. They’ll all be there. Pick what kind of broth you like, what kind of extras you want, and what you’d like to drink. Take your receipt, show it to the hostess, and let her find you a seat. The very Multi-cultural (thus, very L.A. Kitchen) staff gets to work making your food.
After that food and drinks just start…arriving.
How they know where and who you are, I don’t know. But they know. It could be a quick check of the receipt with your order number on top and in bold. But I prefer to think it’s that restaurant “Spidey Sense”.
Just let me go with it, okay?
Funny thing, I’m visiting Tastu Ramen on a day (in early March) when it’s ninety-five friggin’ degrees. Stepping inside the crowded restaurant, taking a seat at the counter near the stoves where they’re actually making the ramen, doesn’t make it much cooler.
But you know? I’m totally having fun anyway.
Yeah, the Waitstaff is nice. The other customers are friendly as well. Now, granted, everyone is really into their Ramen, but it’s a good vibe all around.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Bold Ramen.
You heard me. Bold Ramen.
It’s their version of Tonkotsu (Pork bone based) broth with 11 “bold” ingredients. (Their words, not mine). It’s not as rich or milky as I’ve come to expect from other Tonkotsu broths I’ve had in the past, but the spices inside make up a lot of difference. This broth has a lot of flavor, as well as a lot of kick to it. The good news is that the spiciness level is not a full on assault on your taste-buds (like say at Pa-Ord Noodle), but it will sneak up on you. The good news if you don’t like pain and pleasure in the same meal, is that your tongue will not be feeling those chilis for hours afterwards.
Like with Pa-Ord Noodle. Damn, that stuff was hot.
Along that, I went and got a Pork Bao Bun, which was not bad. It was sweet and creamy (thank you dollop of mayo) and a nice complement to the meal. I probably should have gotten just the one, but when I see Steamed Bread, I usually lose my head.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: The main thing to remember is to get inside the door, look to your right and head to the iPads. Even though the restaurant seems geared toward the use of Credit Cards, you’ll be able to pay with Cash if you want. Instead of paying up front, the Hostess will come by to collect your kale just about as you sit down. No bit worries there.
I will say that the iPad based ordering system mostly works…mostly. The day I was there, I ordered some Corn as a little extra for my Ramen. As it turns out so did the couple to the left of me, as well as the couple to the right of me.
None of us got our corn…at least immediately…
Granted, all of us (and this speaks well of the food), were too entranced eating our Ramen to notice. One of the ladies noticed that we’d all missed out on our corn about halfway through our bowl, and the situation was remedied quickly.
This is a long way to tell you, go down your receipt like a checklist, make sure you get everything that’s due to you. After all, you’ve already paid for it.
And just go in knowing that the place is really, really popular. Expect a crowd.
PARKING: Tatsu Ramen’s Sawtelle location is in a small strip mall with…what seems at first to be a plentiful barrage of parking, but…truth be told, the place is constantly busy with many other fine restaurants to take advantage of. The best thing to do is use their Valet service, which operates for all the establishments in that strip mall. The Service is free, and relies on Tips for the Drivers. Make sure you tip them well.
Tatsu Ramen (Sawtelle)
2123 Sawtelle Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Tel: (310) 684-2889
Sunday-Wednesday: 11:00 am – 2:00 am
Thursday-Saturday: 11:00 am – 3:00 am