“Please take care of your bottoms when you complete your meal,” reads the seventh rule of the “Killer Noodle Tsujita 7 Fundamentals” listed on page one of Tsujita’s newest noodle shop's menu. Though it’s not exactly clear what that means, the previous six rules give a clue as they all refer to the restaurant’s main focus, spice. Rule No. 1 explains that the food is meant to be “painful, delicious and spicy.” If pain is not your thing, rule No. 2 suggests discussing one’s spice tolerance with the server before ordering.
Killer Noodle, with its red walls and red leather booths, is the fifth restaurant venture in Los Angeles for the popular ramen shop that began in Tokyo and opened its first L.A. noodle shop a few doors down from this one on Sawtelle Boulevard. Since then, they’ve opened the Tsujita Artisan Noodle Annex and Sushi Tsujita on the same street. They've even ventured east to the Americana at Brand in Glendale with Tsujita Artisan Noodle, where hungry mall-goers now can slurp noodles between shopping sprees.
Killer Noodle is a departure from Tsujita’s more traditional Japanese menus, as dan dan (or tantanmen) noodles originate in Sichuan Chinese cuisine. But the Killer Noodle recipe, according to Mr. Tsujita, was developed in Tokyo by the Tsujita team with a little help from a Chinese “Iron Chef.” The result, as promised, is slightly painful, delicious and spicy.
In true Tsujita fashion, the menu has just a few items. There are only three types of noodle bowls. The Tokyo and Downtown styles are both drenched in a vibrant red, nutty, sesame-chili sauce. The Tokyo has the addition of sansho pepper and dried shrimp. The third option, the Original, comes with slightly thicker noodles and chili pepper, black pepper, lemon and garlic.
But this doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of decisions to make. Each bowl has the option of broth or no broth, and the menu offers seven different spice levels from zero to six. The spice chart is explained in a pyramid structure, which points out that spiciness comes in two forms: numbness (from prickly ash) and spiciness (from cayenne pepper). Three, the suggested starting point, is significantly spicy and numbing; the spice-averse should stick to a zero or one. The menu offers additional spicy tofu and pork rice bowls along with toppings for your noodles such as char siu pork, poached eggs, cilantro and pork shabu shabu.
Rule No. 3 on the menu advises yogurt to counter any discomfort. Ignore this rule, because the sweet “yogurt” beverage on hand is a high-fructose corn syrup bomb that likely contains no yogurt. Instead, take them up on the offered bib and face towel and enjoy this spicy, numbing ride. Just don't forget to take care of your bottom.
2030 Sawtelle Blvd., Sawtelle; killernoodle.com.