Ramen renaissance notwithstanding, if you have a soft spot for the old Daikokuya in Little Tokyo, with its nostalgic decor and permanent lines, you will be very happy to know that there's now another outpost on Sawtelle Boulevard, just south of Olympic and thus part of what some of us consider the best place for a food crawl in this town.
Now you can probably just do ramen, hitting Daikokuya and working your way north to Tsujita, Tsujita Annex and Asahi and even further to Shin-Sen-Gumi. Proving yet again what most college students and maybe David Chang already know: that you can live pretty happily on ramen alone.
Open for about two months now and still in the “soft opening” stage, the Sawtelle Daikokuya took over the location that previously housed a short-lived iteration of Ramen Jinya. The revolving ramen doors (see: Tsujita Annex, which replaced Miyata Menji) are not a bad thing, for diners if not for the businesses, since we can easily recalibrate our ramen maps with just a name change.
The Sawtelle Daikokuya is a smaller, shinier version of the downtown version, with the same kind of old-school kitschy decoration that's meant to recall last-century Tokyo ramen shops. They've replaced the questionable interior of Ramen Jinya (an enormous hanging bell, thankfully Styrofoam) with wooden doors and windows and retro signage, and put up a rather perplexing uniformed, blond cop mannequin to welcome diners.
Yes, they still yell at you in Japanese when you walk in and out the front doors. No, the line isn't as bad as the shop in Little Tokyo. (Maybe nothing is.)
The menu is the standard Daikokuya menu, although still somewhat abbreviated. Thus you'll find no tsukemen but two kinds of ramen (the Daikokuya ramen and the spicy miso ramen), plus Daikokuya's stellar rice bowls (the excellent shredded pork, chicken and egg, pork cutlet, beef, steak, eel and salmon roe), plus fried rice, gyoza, pork cutlets, edamame, Berkshire pork sausages, and a very good version of takoyaki, or the fried octopus balls common as street food in Japan.
If anybody knows what the kanji is for “hegemony,” please let us know.
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