As of this July, Daikoku-ya, now proprietors of 4 ramen shops, is the biggest ramen hawker in Los Angeles. They’ve surpassed Santouka and Shin Sen Gumi in terms of sheer quantity, as well as Yelp reviews, and has become a proverbial restaurant group with the addition of Bishamon, Ebisu (August of ’06), Bento-ya, etc., all under the umbrella of Bishamon Group Restaurant.
[L: Monterey Park, R: Little Tokyo]
The short falls of Daikoku-ya has been discussed previously by Rameniac in greet deet, no need to repeat the offensives here. What all the Kool-Aid drinkers want to know? With the tentacles of Diakoku-ya spread nearly 40 miles, must one drive to Little Tokyo, and deal with the insufferables, just for a bowl of 拉緬? (Yes, ultimately, this is just overpriced Chinese food).
Monterey Park break down:
Ironically, the MPK location of Daikoku-ya is 1 floor below Shin Sen Gumi Yakitori’s Monterey Park branch. It’s on the north side of the complex that also contains Empress Harbor, my default dim sum joint; Shin Sen’s on the south face. There’s plenty of parking just up front and the structure is wide enough so you don’t have to worry about stray Chinaman hitting you while parking. Instant bonus point to the MPK location. Since opening, Daikoku-ya MPK has calmed down a bit. No more 30 min lines during week nights. Weekends? You’re on your own son!
Think of a stereotypical faux sake house in Kyoto. Not that I’ve been, but that’s what pops out. It’s got just as much character as the OG Little Tokyo location, if not more. Definitely more charm, less Jenglish. The place is tiny tho.
Still the eggy yellow curly ramen, still the Hakkata tonkotsu-based oily broth replete with sesame seeds, green onions and marinaded bamboo. That’s all good but… people only care about the nitty gritty: “is the broth warmer than the DTLA location”? Is the egg warm? How is the kotteri? Answers: the broth is still “warm”. The egg yolk isn’t cold, but it definitely ain’t warm. But the kotteri cuts are just dang good. It ain’t bacon. Bacon is over rated. Kurobuta fat, braised, luke warm, or otherwise, just slides down your throat. With a slight hint of salt, it doesn’t need to be especially prepared. At the Monterey Park location, they don’t over-saturate the broth with kotteri oil, and I’m ok with this. The “plain” broth is already plenty fatty for this aging body.
Other than ramen:
Homey don’t eat $5 gyozas when homey can get 50 dumplings for $10 down the block.
I crave ramen about as much as I much as crave donuts: hardly ever. This (626) bowl, priced at the exact same $8.50 as the Little Tokyo location, is just fine. Can’t really say the same for Costa Mesa nor the Eastern SGV branches without actual sampling, but there’s trouble a-stewing in the OC. Through the Japanese community grapevine, I hear tales of uncaring young Taiwanese gents being hired for the Hacienda Heights location. Troubling news indeed. From simple observation, Daikoku-ya Monterey Park, much like its Japanese competitors upstairs, is still utilizing an all Japanese staff.
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