2057 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Dining date: 11/11/11
Tsujita is one of the latest high-profile ramen shops to open in LA this year. As far as I know, this is the first American location for Japan-based Tsujita, which serves its own version of a tonkotsu ramen. The restaurant opened in August, only serving its Japanese fusion dinner menu to guests…which did not include ramen. Why? Because the restaurant wanted to make sure its ramen was just right before serving it for lunch hours only. Sounded like they were serious about their “artisan” noodles and it quickly became somewhere I wanted to try as soon as possible.
The lunch menu is as simple as it gets; ramen and tsukemen (noodles are brought out separately and dipped into the broth upon eating) are both available, with a few ramen add-ins and rice bowl combos. While ramen is clearly a draw, the restaurant seems to be even more notable for its tsukemen. I was excited to try both.
Having the Veteran’s Day holiday off, I wanted to make it count. After lunch #1 at Baco Mercat in downtown, we rushed across town to Tsujita to find an impressive line out the door. Apparently, others on holiday had the same idea. Dammit. While in line, they ran out of tsukemen (and many of the sides). Dammit again. We came all the way over here to try the restaurant, so we decided to stick around and try the ramen.
A number of table-side toppings were available to add into our soups. The server recommended the hot leaf mustard with the ramen.
Negi Ramen green onion ramen
Char-Siu Ramen extra char-siu
The bowl of ramen looked beautiful, carefully and deliberately put together. The soup clearly had a lot of depth with a nice porky flavor and a milky consistency. The noodles were very good too; I forgot to order ‘hard’ noodles but they still displayed a chewy consistency. The chashu was good too, tender and meaty…not too fatty. It’s really hard to compare to old standbys like Daikokuya, Shin Sen Gumi and Santouka. They’re all similar, yet very different. Tsujita seemed to be a bit more refined (and more expensive), and I thought the flavors may have been a bit cleaner. Personally though, I still prefer Daikokuya for the noodles, the in-your-face fatty broth, and all the oft-overlooked side dishes.
Kaedama (Extra Noodle)
I opted for extra noodles, which included extra soup too for $1.50. I’m not sure what happened here; the noodles were in one large clumpy ball, and individual strands were virtually inseparable. What was left was rather mushy. For a restaurant so deliberate in its actions, I wondered if this was intentional, but it seemed the noodles just weren’t stirred at all while cooking. Major disappointment.
In all, I had a very good bowl of ramen (aside from the refill). Not exactly a bowl I’d drive cross-town for again, but very satisfying if in the area. I was pretty disappointed that they ran out of tsukemen so I guess I have to return for that. Will wait for the crowds to die down a bit, though.