Joining a slew of chain restaurants in the upscale Century City mall food court, Ajisen Ramen, a popular name in Japan, opened at the very end of last month. With over 300 branches worldwide, Ajisen is expanding west, with five locations so far in Southern California. The “secret recipe” of their milky white tonkotsu soup base? Just bones, meat and vegetables. Bowls are priced at about $8 dollars, with the most expensive, premium pork ramen at $8.95. Sure you can find cheaper house-made ramen around town, but if you're shopping and famished and it's dark and rainy out, this might be a good, MSG-free alternative, unless you're comfortable just sticking with a Baja Fresh burrito. No judging.

Ajisen Ramen: Westfield Century City Shopping Center, 10250 Santa Monica Blvd.; (310) 556-1188.

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