Have I told you lately how much I love L.A.? Well, I do. A lot. I feel giddy every time I discover a new part of the city, especially one that’s nice to my wallet and even nicer to my taste buds. The Astronomer and I were recently introduced to Little Tokyo by our friends and long-time Angelenos Andrew and Miri. After a recent religious experience with a bowl of Daikokuya‘s tonkotsu ramen, Andrew insisted that we meet there for dinner. Upon hearing that piggy back fat was the key ingredient in the broth, all I needed to know was when to show up.
With a firm no reservations policy, Daikokuya is notorious for having tortuously long waits. We hedged our bets by showing up somewhat early on a Sunday night. After twenty minutes of chilling under the restaurant’s yellow awnings, our party of five was led to a plushy red booth. The dingy dining room was warm and humming with happy slurpers.
A ramenya experience is incomplete without a few plates of gyoza ($5.95) to start. The ones at Daikokuya are filled with pork and vegetables, wrapped in thin papers, and pan fried. An order includes five dumplings that arrive in a raft-like mass, accompanied by a mild dipping sauce on the side. After carefully peeling a dumpling from its mates, Andrew declared the gyozas the best he’s ever tasted. I would’ve shouted out in agreement, except that my mouth was occupied by a plump little dumpling.
For our main course, The Astronomer and I shared one of Daikokuya’s combination options that included a cabbage slaw, a bowl of ramen, and a small teriyaki eel bowl ($12.95). Daikokuya’s broth is made using simmered kurobuta pork bones, as well as extra back fat (kotteri) upon request. The broth was thick, milky, and luxurious, while the noodles were curly and springy. A couple spoonfuls of finely minced garlic and florescent pickled ginger balanced out the bowl to perfection.
The unagi bowl was straightforward and delicious. Truly, what’s not to love about buttery eel painted with a sweet glaze?
And because The Astronomer was feeling extra hungry, we also ordered a tuna sashimi bowl ($10.95). The slabs of fish were just thick enough and unquestionably fresh. We enjoyed having the tuna’s clean flavors to contrast the ramen’s avalanche of porkiness.
It took a while for The Astronomer and me to make our way to Little Tokyo, but now that we’ve had a proper introduction, there’s little doubt that we’ll become regulars.
327 East 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012