Daikokuya (West LA)
2208 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064
With this post, we essentially conclude coverage of all the new ramen restaurant openings in the Little Osaka area – unless another one opens soon, which isn’t completely out of the picture at this point. But all of the big shots in LA do now have branches in this area, with Daikokuya and Shin-Sen-Gumi’s recent openings. Usually, the more the merrier, but as I previously mentioned in my Shin-Sen-Gumi post, the number of ramen shops on Sawtelle is too damn high. But let’s see what each of these restaurants bring to the table:
Asahi – mapo ramen, nostalgia
Daikokuya – decor?
Gottsui – beef ramen
Hayatemaru – appetizers, half sizes
Kotoya – ?
Ramenya – more “varieties”
Shin-Sen-Gumi – customization, appetizers
Tatsu – opens the latest, stunt ordering
Tsujita – best tsukemen, best tonkotsu ramen
Tsujita Annex – best overall ramen (Jiro-style, which no one else has), 2nd best tsukemen
As you see above, it’s hard to say that the addition of Daikokuya really adds anything to the area. Everything on the menu can be found at the other ramen restaurants, and it’s not as if Daikokuya does them better in my opinion. It also doesn’t help that the restaurant is located outside of the actual Little Osaka, being south of Olympic on Sawtelle (in the former Ramen Jinya space). But Daikokuya IS the city’s most popular ramenya by far, as evidenced by the crowds that the Little Tokyo location continues to receive.
Don’t get me wrong people – I think the ramen at Daikokuya is fine. I just don’t think that it’s the best that LA has to offer, and I wouldn’t wait an hour for it. But if you love it, you’ll probably love the version here as well. It’s pretty much EXACTLY how I remembered the Little Tokyo one (as well as the Monterey Park branch) to be. So that’s probably a good thing. Also, while I didn’t order any on this visit, Daikokuya’s gyoza and rice bowls are pretty good, even superior to the ramen in my opinion. So that’s something to consider.
I mentioned decor as a possible selling point for the restaurant. Not like it matters, especially for a ramenya, but I really dig the decor here. It’s like a commercial neighborhood block of a Japanese suburb during the 1980s. I am being this specific, because it reminds me of Shenmue, the Sega Dreamcast game from 1999 (if anyone remembers that game). Really cool, and an upgrade over the slightly over-the-top decor of Jinya (that giant styrofoam bell, in particular).
So if you love Daikokuya, just consider this new branch as one you won’t have to wait nearly as long for, and has arguably the best parking for all the ramen restaurants in the area. There’s your selling point.