Hold onto your chopsticks, ramen fans: Weekly LALALA has reupped its successful Ramen Week just in time for the winter weather, and you have way longer than seven days to explore the hell out of Japanese noodle soup in Los Angeles and beyond. In fact, as of Dec. 1, you have two weeks to eat through nearly 50 West Coast ramen-yas, all for half price.
For one week this past May, Weekly LALALA — a local Japanese-language newspaper and organizer of Ramen Yokocho, the largest ramen festival in the United States — distributed coupons good for 50 percent off bowls at 31 ramen-yas from Torrance to San Diego to Las Vegas. The fine print was tough and included certain hours the coupons would be honored as well as a limit to how many orders per day would be served at the price, but that didn't stop ramen fans from standing in line on Sawtelle or driving to unknown parts just to slurp up some steaming shoyu.
This time around, Ramen Week has become the less time-constraining Ramen Pass, and through Dec. 14, a $2 buy-in gets you half off of more than 80 kinds of ramen at 46 ramen-yas.
The hope of the original Ramen Week was to have Weekly LALALA readers discover new types of ramen, and the Ramen Pass expands this noble cause. With 15 more restaurants across a wider coverage area (including a dozen first-time participants!), the Ramen Pass encourages its holders to spend the next few weeks eating through not only what's in their own backyard but also what's been stewing with pork bones, miso or soy sauce across the state.
In L.A., big names like Urban Ramen in Hollywood, Shin-Sen-Gumi Hakata Raman West L.A., Top N One Ramen in Westwood, Pingtung Eat-In Market on Melrose and Suehiro in Little Tokyo are all honoring the Ramen Pass. Ebaes, which serves the original Thai-style creamy ramen dish from a small storefront near USC, is also on the list.
In the San Gabriel Valley, there's Daikokuya in Arcadia, Tonta Japanese Noodle House in Hacienda Heights, Ramen Yukinoya in Monterey Park, plus Rutso18 and Kozuki in Alhambra. And in the South Bay, cities including Torrance (Umenoya, Ramen Izakaya Ajido, Matsui and Ko-Ryu), Gardena (Toraji Ramen, Tampopo and Shuchan Ramen), Lomita (Eboshi Noodle Bar) and Redondo Beach (Oriental Breeze and Bambibu) are heavily represented by a slew of names new to the program.
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If you needed an excuse for a ramen road trip, there are also a hunk of options in Orange County — including Kairakuti in Tustin, Ramen Zetton in Costa Mesa and other spots in Anaheim, Buena Park, Tustin, Fountain Valley and Irvine — San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento and Vegas. Start planning now.
Visit the Weekly LALALA website to purchase a ramen pass and for more information on the participating restaurants and their offers.