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Tsujita L.A.: 99 Essential Restaurants 2011 

Thursday, Nov 10 2011
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Not long ago, I had barely heard of tsukemen, a Tokyo-born dish of bare noodles, served with a superconcentrated dipping sauce of reduced, fish-flavored pork broth, which apparently is to regular ramen what Intelligentsia is to Folgers. Los Angeles is going through a ramen boom at the moment. But even in the middle of this newfound abundance, the appearance of Tsujita L.A. — a branch of Nidaime Tsujita, considered one of the best in Tokyo — is a big deal, a noodle shop so revered that it could get away with a soft opening serving no noodles at all, a place that makes no attempt to amuse you with gyoza or salad. Noodles are served exclusively at lunch.

What you get is ramen — specify hard-cooked — that float in soup made from kurobuta pig bones boiled 30 hours: the gossamer noodles add little weight to the broth. Or better yet, get the tsukemen: thicker, burlier, more slippery noodles, pure chew, with the tensile strength of hand-pulled Lanzhou mian. The syrup-dense dipping sauce is porkier than pork itself. You may have chashu, fat pork simmered until it nearly falls apart of its own accord, or a special egg simmered at low temperature, which droops from your chopsticks like a Dali painting of an egg and whose yolk is liquid and impossibly orange. You are instructed to eat one third of the noodles with the dipping broth, the second third with a shake of powdered chiles and the final portion with a squeeze of lime. When you are finished, the waitress takes your thickened sauce and tops it up with hot water. It has become soup. 2057 Sawtelle Blvd., W.L.A. (310) 231-7373, tsujita-la.com. Lunch daily, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; dinner, Wed.-Mon., 5 p.m.-mid. (last orders taken 30 minutes before closing time). Beer, wine and sake. Street parking. Cash only. Japanese.

99 Essential L.A. Restaurants 2011:

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The List:

A-Frame
Akasha
Alcazar
Angeli Caffe
Angelini Osteria
Animal
Antojitos Carmen
Attari
Babita
Bludso's
Border Grill
Bottega Louie
Bulgarini Gelato
Cacao
Campanile
Casa Bianca
Chang's Garden
Chego
Chichén Itzá
Chung King
Church & State
Ciro's
Comme Ça
Cut
Dae Bok
Din Tai Fung
Drago Centro
El Huarache Azteca
El Parian
Elvirita's
Euro Pane Bakery
Eva
Fab Hot Dogs
Father's Office
Fig
Gjelina
Golden Deli
Golden State
Good Girl Dinette
The Gorbals
Guelaguetza
Guisados
Huckleberry
Hungry Cat
Ink.
Jar
Jitlada
Kiriko
Kobawoo
La Casita Mexicana
Langer's
Larkin's
Lazy Ox Canteen
Le Comptoir
Little Dom's
Lou
Lucques
LudoBites
Lukshon
Mantee
Marouch
Mayura
Meals by Genet
Mélisse
Mezze
Mo-Chica
Mother Dough
Mozza
Musso & Frank Grill
Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa
Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant
The Nickel
Night + Market
Oinkster
101 Noodle Express
Palate Food + Wine
Park's Barbecue
Picca
Playa
Pollos a la Brasa
Providence
Ray's
Red Medicine
Rivera
Rustic Canyon
Salt's Cure
Sapp Coffee Shop
Sea Harbour
Son of a Gun
Sotto
Spago
Spice Table
Street
Tacos Baja Ensenada
Tasting Kitchen
Terroni
Tsujita L.A.
Vincenti
Waterloo & City

 

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