Santouka Ramen

21515 S. Western Ave.
Torrance, CA 90501-3048
Part of a Japanese chain with American outlets in Torrance and Costa Mesa, Santouka is pretty spare. What you get here is ramen, or more specifically shio ramen, thin, squiggly noodles served in a boiling-hot pork broth minimally seasoned with salt. Floating among the noodles will be a bit of seaweed, a pinch of chopped green onion, a thin round of bland fishcake and three slices of pork. At the exact middle point of the bowl is a single scarlet pickle, the dot over the “i” that brings the entire composition into focus. Add or subtract a buck or two and get a bigger or smaller bowl than the default size; throw in a couple more and get a bowl of rice topped with glistening salmon roe, with bonito flakes and chopped green onions, or a frosting of hyperstinky fermented soybeans. But the top of the line is undoubtedly the ramen with special pork — which is to say, a plateful of fattier, roastier slices of pork served on the side, unsullied by the taste of noodles or broth.

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