Chibiscus is a small shop located in a strip mall on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood, a few blocks west of La Brea, or far enough away from the traffic and the tourists so that, unless Paul McCartney or Justin Timberlake happen to be giving a free concert nearby, you can get here and find parking relatively unscathed. That said, if you're in the neighborhood and craving a bowl of ramen, the version here hits the spot even if you have to battle a bit of gridlock to get it.
As explained on its website, "Chibiscus" is a portmanteau of the Japanese word "chibi, which means tiny, cute things" and hibiscus, the flower. Accordingly, there are all sorts of things that are cute without being cutesy: The restaurant's slightly anthromorphized hibiscus logo sprinkled throughout the menu, for one, and the smoothies and boba teas served in Mason jars, which somehow manage to be on this side of attractive even if the conceit of Mason jars as drinking vessels jumped the shark some time ago. And the shop itself is small and simple: a handful of tables, a few stools along the counter, an open kitchen.
But you're not here for the Mason jars. No, you're here for the ramen.
There are several types of ramen here: the signature tonkotsu, made with a broth simmered for some 10 hours ("filled with goodness of collagen but not fattening"); shoyu; a vegetarian ramen with vegetables and grilled tofu; spicy chicken; and spicy miso. We ordered the spicy miso, a beautiful bowl with a burnt orange broth hit with the right amount of spice, chewy noodles, lovely slices of very tender chashu and a properly soft-boiled egg. It's quite enough on its own, but you can opt to top your soup with cheese. Or, for that matter, butter, corn or fried kimchi.
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In addition to ramen, there are appetizers like musubi and pork buns, and rice bowls like omurice and a fairly straightforward, but very comforting, kimchi fried rice. For dessert, brick toast with various toppings (Nutella!), or the occasional special like matcha green tea ice-cream.
Chibiscus is still in its soft opening phase, so we can only imagine what else we can look forward to once it officially opens. For now, the restaurant is open on Mondays from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Tuesdays through Sundays from noon to 11 p.m.
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