Shinsengumi & The Art of Ramen

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve made it my personal little goal to do a bit more exploring in the downtown (live link) area of Los Angeles. I even went as far as to ride the subway on this particular adventure, which to be honest wasn’t my cup of tea. It really wasn’t any faster than driving, which I still had to do to get to the subway from my house. But I digress.

What I’m really here to divulge is the exquisite treasure I discovered in Little Tokyo in the form of Ramen. Oooooh how I love ramen! Although unbeknownst to me I had never experienced REAL ramen. There are many, many restaurants in and around LA that claim to be authentic ramen, they are not. I would venture to guess if it’s not located in Little Tokyo, it’s faux ramen or fa-men as I like to call it.

Shin-Sen-Gumi Hakata Ramen however, may as well be in the heart of Tokyo. Once inside I was instantly transported into the hustle and bustle of what I imagine this restaurant would be like on the streets of Japan. There was a flurry of activity, a whirlwind of waiters shouting orders and greetings, it was hot, crowded, and aromatic and everything happened in fast-forward. Luckily we were seated at the bar, which was really fun because we got to watch the chefs prepare the broth and noodles in vats the size of my apartment. It was awesome.

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Here’s what I ordered:

Hakata Ramen 1/2 bowl

Pork Cutlet

Bean Sprouts

Curry Bomb

Sides:

Seaweed

Wonton

Spring rolls

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This was the final result and what an explosion of flavor it was! They top the ramen with a plethora of sesame seeds and green onions. But my favorite part was the combination of the snappy bean sprouts and soft noodles. It was delightful. Their spring rolls were made out of the thinnest, crispiest rice paper I’ve ever had. I dunked mine in a mixture of soy sauce and chili pepper oil. Is your mouth watering yet?

I’m a total sucker for anything curry but next time I might hold off on the curry bomb but only because the broth can easily stand on it’s own. I could have chugged it but I didn’t want to embarrass my dining companion. You’re welcome, Jacqueline. :)

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Post ramen invasion we walked across the street to the courtyard where children were running through the crowded path, their tiny hands full of red bean donuts a very in-demand dessert in Little Tokyo. Brightly colored paper lanterns are strung between the shops and in the balconies above old men smoke their pipes and peer down on the courtyard below like watchmen. It’s beautiful.

We continued the tour and walked just a couple blocks to the arts district to check out some of the cool graffiti before taking the metro back to Union Station. I walked through the depot in the late afternoon when the sunlight was pouring through the windows. If you’ve never been, go.

There’s another ramen spot right down the street that apparently always has a line out the door and around the corner. If I can wait, next time I might try it. Maybe.