Wednesday, December 3, 2008
The Big Black Noodle House: Daikokuya
Ah, living in Los Angeles with an affinity towards Japanese food, it's inevitable that I would stumble upon Daikokuya. But why does this little noodle shop gather so many supporters? As Rameniac, astutely points out, it is always overrun by "Giant Robot subscriber" hipsters searching for the newest "it" place. Certainly now that Daikokuya has been overhyped, it's on it's way down like the left-over noodles circling the garbage disposal. Those who are still waiting for hours outside the borderline sketchy part of J-Town are probably just a little slow on the times. Or maybe they really do find something special in each greasy bowl.
I ordered the kotteri style ramen, extra fatty like I thought I would enjoy. In retrospect, enjoy is a tough word to apply when I felt sick to my stomach after eating a bowl of so much fat. Maybe it was my mistake for choosing the fattier bowl, but the normal bowl didn't look much lighter. Although the menu says the broth is prepared overnight and flavored with special sauce blends, I didn't get that much depth in my spoonful. The noodles didn't stand out in any way, a big disappointment in a famed noodle house. I suppose Daikokuya's fanbase comes from the Berkshire kurobuta pork, but watching the cooks slop the cold chashu into a bowl made the entire thing several notches less appetizing. The runny soft-boil egg was the most enjoyable thing floating in there.
Way overrated ramen
Besides the ramen, the salads served with each meal had some appeal. Chopped cabbage topped in the creamy Japanese dressing, it's simple but satisfying. Both the unagi donburi eel rice and the tonkatsu pork cutlet were also decent. That's the thing: Daikokuya makes good food, just not that spectacular a ramen. Of course, I do admit I have an udon bias, but I would not wait in line to get this ramen. In fact, we had to wait twenty minutes to eat at the counter at 4:40 in the afternoon. I'd much rather go to the nearest Santouka and not feel as sick afterward.
327 E 1st St
Little Tokyo, 90012
$8.50 a bowl of ramen