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It would be unfair to label Ramenya minimalist; this suggests deliberate aesthetic intent. Rather, Ramenya is designed for maximum turnover, a utilitarian white box with cramped tables, fluorescent lamps brighter than a thousand flat panel TVs and a kitchen that seems to deliver your meal before you finish ordering it.

The sterile digs and the restaurant's puzzling exile three blocks west of the noodle-intensive Sawtelle strip have done little to dampen its popularity. Arrive before 6:30 p.m. or be prepared to wait outside, chin glued to your chest to avoid the grit kicked up by the traffic crush on Olympic Boulevard.

Conditions improve once you find a seat. There is complimentary iced barley tea, and Ramenya adheres to the Ripley's Believe It or Not! school of portion control. Noodles–whether hot, cold, fried yakisoba-style or spiked with extras like fermented bamboo shoot, frizzled scallions or kimchi–arrive in bowls the size of garden birdbaths. They're toothsome and satisfyingly wheaty, nested in a serviceable, well-lubricated broth, albeit lacking the cashmere-like sultriness of a bowl at Santouka or Daikokuya. Nevertheless, Ramenya offers some of heartiest meals to be had for under 10 bucks on the ocean-side of the 405, and there are nearly 30 varieties to choose from. Recommended are Jya-Jya Men, cold noodles lathered with miso and tossed with minced pork, Tenshin Men with shrimp and egg and the lighter Sansai Ramen with Japanese mountain vegetable.

Ramenya:11555 W. Olympic Boulevard, Los Angeles; 310-575-9337.

LA Weekly