Asahi Ramen

by janet on March 2nd, 2008

Ramen. It is soooo good. I don’t think Americans fully understand the importance of ramen to Japanese cuisine and culture. There are regular TV shows that quest to find the best ramen in Japan. There are other TV shows where “Ramen Champions” are given a bowl of ramen from a ramen shop in that city, and they are supposed to identify which shop it came from (by quite literally sprinting to the shop). The word Naruto from the super popular comic/game/anime actually refers to a ingredient/condiment (ingrediment?) that goes in ramen. The most important plot point in a super popular Japanese TV show (it was either Chuuka na Pai Pai or its sequel, Chuuka na Ipanema) is that the protagonist’s boyfriend had been turned into a bowl of ramen without a naruto in it, and her eternal quest is to find this bowl of ramen.

Ah, random Japanese wackiness.

Anyway, ramen is important! That’s why it’s kind of sad that the ramen they hock in this town is not that good. Recently Tiffany took me to Asahi Ramen in the Little Little Tokyo section at Sawtelle/Olympic.

We started with a tofu salad. Which had…ramen noodles in it? The soy/sesame dressing (soysame?) was great! But I wish it had been on a sturdier leaf; I wish that there were fewer fried wonton thingies on top; I wish there were no ramen noodles in it; I wish that the tofu was one level softer (medium instead of hard would do just fine).

I then ordered the Miso Ramen, which is my favorite type of ramen. It’s more than miso soup with noodles in it – it’s the rich stock plus miso mixed in, which gives it a really satisfying earthy salty flavor. Umami, if you want to use pretentious foodie-speak. It usually also comes with half a boiled egg, which if you mix the yolk in with the soup makes it even more creamy deep delicious.

Good ramen noodles have koshi which literally I think means “lower back” which is a good term for it. Noodles should have a backbone, you know? It’s not analagous to “al dente” but it is about chewiness and springiness and not-mushy-ness. No American ramen I’ve had has ever had adequate koshi. This bowl didn’t either. But it was a super rainy, cold day, and the sheer pleasure of having hot salty soupiness erased any small grumblings I had about it. Plus the company, as always, was amazing with Miss Finni in the house.

Oh, and PaiPai/Ipanema-chan – I seem to have found your boyfriend (see photo at top). But I ate him – sorry.

Asahi Ramen
Cash Only!
2027 Sawtelle Blvd.,
Los Angeles, CA 90025

3 Responses to “Asahi Ramen”

  1. Keizo says:

    Yes, ramen is very important! Great post! I couldn’t agree with you more.

  2. Super Jou says:

    try kyushu ramen near the corner of sherman way and sepulveda. it’s not great, but it’s better than i’ve had at a lot of places. It’s hit or miss, but then a lot of noodle places are, regardless of ethnicity.

    Cred….nerd cred.

  3. finni (t-finni) says:

    Funny how you compared the ramen consistency to pasta since that’s what we were originally going to eat that night (remember?). And I will never forget the fib-mini!!! Yay to grapefruit flavored soda with a gazillion grams of unsoluble fiber!!!!!!

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