Available at Mitsuwa’s food courts, Santouka Ramen might just be Japan’s equivalent of Panda Express. But don’t let the location(s) fool you – Santouka has the best ramen in L.A. That’s right, I didn’t stutter. Better than Daikokuya. Better than Shin-Sen-Gumi. And definitely in a class of its own compared to the also-rans that have become so popular amongst my peers (I’m looking at you, Orochon and Ramenya). But what sets Santouka apart from the rest of the competition? Let’s start with the broth. According to their website, “to make our mild, pearl-colored Tonkotsu soup, we take the time about 20 hours to simmer the pork bones before adding our vegetables, dried fish, kelp and other special ingredients.” That’s some soup lovin’. And the soup is always accompanied by noodles that have a right consistency of chewiness, bamboo shoots, scallions, wood-ear mushrooms, a pickled plum, and the oh-so-fatty-and-awesome pork. I can never resist fatty pork. It’s comparable to my love for aggressive women: both can hurt me, but they hurt so good.
I went to the Santouka in the Mitsuwa on Centinela Ave. with my friend Ben after playing basketball. I think Ben and I have had Santouka after basketball at least half a dozen times. Just can’t go wrong with a big bowl of ramen after exercising. Both of us ordered the medium shio (salt) ramen. The shio is the version where the broth is seasoned with salt, and by far the most popular choice (I’ve seen it sold out on various occasions). There are also miso, spicy miso, and shoyu (soy sauce) varieties. I’ve had the miso and shoyu each once before. They are both excellent selections, but once you had shio, you can’t go back. It’s just too good. So don’t be fooled by the location and the lack of glamour surrounding the place, or else you’ll be missing out on the best ramen in town.
Chris Hei grade: A-
3760 S Centinela Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90066