Daikokuya Ramen
Address: 327 E. First St. Los Angeles, CA 90012
Telephone: 213.626.1680
Website: www.daikoku-ten.com

Ah, Daikokuya. Such fond memories fill my head whenever I think about the oh so popular ramen shop. Located right in the heart of Little Tokyo, it is definitely one of the best ramen shops in L.A. If you're planning on going however, expect to wait at a minimum of 45mins or more unless you're really, really lucky. (But seriously, expect waiting) The intoxicating smell of pork fat and broth fills your nostrils as you hungrily wait outside hoping the barely English speaking Japanese women calls your name. As a tip, write down your name in the list ASAP. Letting even one person ahead of you can add 5-10mins to your time.

We started out with an appetizer of tasty gyoza. The gyoza here is different from any other place I've been to. Which is fine since these were the best gyoza I've ever had the pleasure to eat. Crunchy on the outside, while juicy on the inside. Absolutely perfect.

The fried rice here is definitely a treat for your taste buds. It has an almost burnt smokey flavor that adds so much when it comes to taste. The egg and pork provides such a meaty texture that it could probably substitute as the main course if you wanted to.

It was time for the main course. The Daikotsu Ramen, Kotteri style (back fat). For any true ramen lovers out there, make sure you do ask for the kotteri. It adds so much richness to the flavor of the broth, it would be a pity to skip it. The broth here is what attracts so many customers on a daily basis. They cook pork bones in the broth to give it that extra hearty flavor of richness. You can definitely taste the quality difference between the broth here compared to other ramen shops within the area. If you don't like ramen, you will after going to this place.

RATING:Out of 5
TASTE: 5/5 Superb flavor and richness in all dishes
ATMOSPHERE: 3/5 VERY long waiting time and very humid inside
Service: 4/5 Service isn't bad, but nothing special.
PRICE: About $20 per person
OVERALL: 4.5/5 One of the best ramen shops in L.A. but really wish they would expand

Well, what can I say about this place? Long wait times no matter what time you go there. Very stuffy and cramped interior where none of the tables will seat more then 4 without some sardine effect going on. But we keep going back - in fact we keep driving 40 minutes from Northridge down to Little Tokyo just to go to Daikokuya. So they must be doing something right, right?

So far everything I have tried there, I like. The little salad they give you with the combo is sort of a Japanese style cole slaw, but better tasting with a creamy ginger type dressing. The fried rice has a nice smokey flavor from the rice slightly caramelizing on the bottom of the pan. The dumplings are unique in both flavor and assembly.

And the ramen, which is what they are really known for, is extremely good. How can it not be good with extra back fat in it. I know - doesn't sounds very appetizing saying 'back fat', so instead you can refer to it as Kotteri, which certainly sounds much nicer to my non-japanese understanding ears. The fat is melted into the soup and gives it a very rich flavor, similar to what butter does for some dishes, only without any added saltiness.

The soup comes in a very large bowl that is filled close to the top. Which means you have a generous portion of broth, as well as noodles. There's also a whole semi-hard boiled egg (the yolk is solid but just slightly before being completely hard boiled), which i actually think is the best part of the soup. Plus generous slices of pork and topped off with a good handful of green onions.

Even though it's always busy there, the wait staff have always been friendly and I don't think my glass has gone empty for more then a minute or two before they refilled it. The wait time to actually get a table is long, but once you place your order the food is on your table within 5 minutes. And conveniently there is a parking structure directly across the street. So if you can't find street parking you can park in there for $2-$4. I also learned they are opening a new location in Montery Park. And coincidentally it's opening right next door a really good vegetarian restaurant i like, which will probably be the next review you see here :)

RATING:Out of 5
TASTE: 5/5 We waited in line 40 minutes every time - what does that say about the flavor?
ATMOSPHERE: 3/5 kind of cramped and usually pretty warm inside
PRICE: 5/5 Very affordable, Under $20 per person
OVERALL: 4/5 Really good but they lose one point for the long waits and cramped interior


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