Saturday, May 3, 2008
3760 S. Centinela Avenue,
Los Angeles, CA 90066
Adequately Fed: $7
(Out of Five Stars)
Located in the Mitsuwa Japanese Market, Santouka is a food court ramen stand. Yet its humble surroundings belie the superb flavors of the ramen. I have never understood the fascination with these Japanese noodles until I had this bowl. Perhaps it is the American obsession with cup noodle and instant ramen that underlie this love, but either one of those do no justice to Santouka.
There's not much to say about the restaurant itself. It's much less a restaurant as it is a food court counter. Plastic bowls of noodles display your options. I've always wondered whether the plastic food makers base their models on the food or if the food is based on the plastic models.
The shio or salt ramen is their most popular bowl. I have yet to try to the shoyu or miso ramen, but the shio ramen is excellent in flavor and body. The broth is unctuous and hearty, leaving a smooth flavor coating on your tongue after each sip. Each noodle had the right amount of elasticity, the Asian equivalent to al dente. The fatty pork melts in your mouth. As the name suggests, this ramen is slightly on the salty side. It is best enjoyed with a few glasses of water. But as you quench your thirst hours after the meal, your tongue will reminisce about an unforgettable ramen experience.
Recommendation: Come for the ramen, but also check out the Japanese groceries in the supermarket.