Another opening on Sawtelle – yawn? And yes, it was yet again a ramen joint. Was invited on Facebook by my friend Michelle to their soft opening week promo a couple of weeks ago, where everything was free and unlimited (no joke) as long as you were on the guest list. By the time my coworker and I decided to try the place on Friday, certain restrictions were placed (should’ve known better in the first place), but we each got a bowl of ramen and a beer on the house. So no problem!
The owner, Ryu, is an USC alum, as are the promoters on Facebook and likely some of the staff helping out during the soft opening (got the USC vibe from them). Which explains why Michelle got the invite (another USC alum). Natural animosity aside, Tatsu Ramen had a very sleek and modern feel to it, however minimalistic. You order via kiosks set at the front door, where you can customize your bowls of ramen. Pretty cool, but I can see potential problems with the timing between ordering and seating if the place is at full capacity.
Currently, there are two options: tonkotsu ramen, and a “naked” ramen which doesn’t have any soup, but rather a dressing of some sort. I got the tonkotsu of course, which had a couple slices of chashu, scallions, fried onions, seaweed, and a soft-boiled egg ($10 normally – on the expensive side of ramen). The broth was quite dark, from what I suspect to be black garlic oil. Gave it a very similar appearance to the kotteri ramen from Ramen Yamadaya. As I slurped my bowl, I actually began to see plenty of similarities between the two places…
Like Yamadaya, the broth at Tatsu was quite intense, although not as porky as the ones offered at Santouka/Jinya. The salt bomb kind of hits you, although I’m personally okay with that. Who wants a mild ramen? Chashu was good – thick cuts, like the ones found in the tsukemen at Tsujita, though not as fatty. The noodles were a bit tougher than the consistency I prefer, but nothing to really complain about. And remember: you can customize the bowl to your liking (i.e. more or less garlic, add corn – a poor man’s version of Shin-Sen-Gumi’s options, if you will). My one real problem is with the egg. While at a nice soft-boil, it wasn’t marinated at all.
Overall, Tatsu Ramen is another welcome addition to the rapidly-expanding Sawtelle. Not in the top tier of ramen, but sitting pretty in the next group amongst Ramen Yamadaya (and Daikokuya on a good day). $10 is somewhat excessive, seeing how Ramen Jinya is a block away, but this is coming from the same guy who happily pays $14 for a chashu tsukemen at Tsujita (and who doesn’t factor value in when handing out assessments). Just FYI: it’s located in the plaza with Volcano, towards the south side. I’ll definitely be back to see Tatsu in action on a normal day.
Chris Hei grade: N/A (meal was comped as part of soft opening promo)
2123 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025