Men Oh Tokushima Ramen – Challenging Little Tokyo’s Ramen Royalty

12 Oct

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Another day, another Japanese import bringing authentic regional ramen to LA. Shin Sen Gumi’s arrival in Little Tokyo shook up Daikokuya’s death grip on noodle supremacy downtown. Could another upstart upset the balance of power?

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Men Oh Tokushima Ramen is a chain that hails from Japan and boasts broth from the most storied pig-raising region of Japan. They are apparently expanding, as two Bay Area locations have opened this year. Maybe it’s a franchise deal, as that menohusa.com site does not list the LA location.

The LA location is still technically in soft opening mode. Today they did not have the tonkatsu ramen, as the chef said he is still working out the kinks in the broth. They still have the shoyu broth (soy sauce; Tokyo style) and the Tokushima broth (a mix of pork and soy sauce broths). They are also working out a beer and wine license, which should be ready when they go into official opening mode next week.

I got the Tokushima, as it is their “signature” ramen. The broth is full of flavor – saltier than a regular tonkatsu broth. It’s very porky and rivals the second tier ramen joints (Shin Sen Gumi, Yamadaya, Daikokuya). They said the noodles are house-made, but I thought they were not exceptionally good. They are ok – medium width, a little kinked, and served nicely chewy. They also toss in some scallions and bamboo shoots. Fine.

The pork is really good. The chashu is really delicate – thinly sliced and perfectly roasted. It was extremely fatty – really, almost all fat – but it wasn’t a negative as it was pretty thin. The innovation was a small mound of stir-fried pork. It was confusing at first, as I can’t think of any serious ramen that is served this way, but I think it is a lot like bulgogi, the Korean stir-fried sliced beef. I’m not sure I loved it as a part of the ramen, but it was an interesting addition.

The other thing was the beautiful golden orange egg. Apparently, the plan is to find a source for pasteurized raw eggs to be broken into the ramen. But for now, you get this soft boiled Jidori egg. It’s really well-executed and great in the soup.

Overall, of course I was thinking about Tsujita the whole time and this does not come close to the king. But Men Oh is an interesting rival to SSG and Daikokuya for Little Tokyo ramen. Ranking them is going to take some thought.

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