A lot of attention has been paid in recent months to the slew of cocktail-and-small-plates establishments opening up in Highland Park. Although the neighborhood has long been a mecca for great regional Mexican food, these design-heavy New American joints are supposed to tell us something about the status of the neighborhood and its pleasure potential.
But I'd wager that of the newer restaurants to open in Highland Park in recent months, the one that has most changed the eating life of the neighborhood's residents might be Ramen on York, the offshoot of Silverlake Ramen that started slinging bowls of noodles back in June.
Silverlake Ramen itself was a bit of a game changer in 2012 when it opened on Sunset in Silver Lake, bringing legit bowls of tonkotsu to a part of town that was previously miles from the nearest decent ramen. It wasn't long before the small space became overwhelmed with hungry diners, and the parking lot outside Silverlake Ramen often has crowds milling around waiting for their turn to sit and slurp.
At Ramen of York, the setup is even more true to the classic utility of a Japanese ramen shop. There are no tables, just counters along the walls with stools where you sit, eat your soup, then get out of the way for the next person. The red and black space is designed with painted branches of a blossom tree stretching across the back wall, and the words “I need love more than food” above the open kitchen.
The menu is very similar to the one at Silverlake Ramen, though the verbiage is a little different. Here, the tonkotsu is called York ramen, and the broth is a creamy pork and chicken affair. There's tsukemen noodles with an intense pork and fish broth for dipping, and various rice bowls including pork belly, chicken, and salmon poke. That salmon is a little odd, seeing as the rice comes hot and it warms the cold fish and avocado topping in a way that's slightly disconcerting. The ramen broth, too, could have been a little hotter when I tried it, but the taste was spot-on.
There is no booze license as of right now, though I was enamored of the “Japanese colada,” a virgin version of the drink made with pineapple, coconut and yuzu. It tasted like the tropical juices I've had on the street in Indonesia. Who needs cocktails?
Ramen of York is providing quality bowls of noodles and once again doing it in a neighborhood far from South Bay or Sawtelle. When it comes to every day eating, the place fulfills a basic need that's quick and cheap and delicious. Seeing as that's always been what Highland Park does well, Ramen of York feels just right.
Ramen of York, 5051 York Blvd., Highland Park. (323) 999 – 7988. ramenofyork.com