Daikokuya’s ramen is good enough most of time. Shin Sen offers more food choices and a solid Hakata-style broth with noodles that are about as “katame” as one can get in the (626). Naga Naga, a Thai-American operated chainlet with its $5 “anniversary” ramen is already dying a slow death on Valley Blvd less than 2 years after opening. After a close encounter with a toilet, I can only advise everyone to never visit Ajisen, a bonafide Chinese ramen chain. This is the state of ramen in West San Gabriel Valley.
Every quarter a new tip-top ramen shop runs through the conscious of the noodle-aware in Los Angeles. Some of these folks are true noodle whores, some are thinly-disguised Nipponphiles, some simply watch too much anime. Personally, ramen calls out only when the other doze Asian noodle forms become tiresome and new for 2011, there’s Ton Chan Ramen to fulfill that calling.
The hanjuku tamago currently is hit and miss. Sometimes the yolks seem liquid, golden, perhaps closer to poached than boiled. Sometimes, (and just like Daikokuya) the egg center’s is cold and bordering overcooked. Sometimes the char siu seems a bit under seasoned, but it’s always tender, soft and melty. Despite offering the choice of 6 tiered spice level, there’s no noodle hardness, nor garlic oil, nor kotteri selection. While the shop sign clearly denotes “Tokyo” ramen, there isn’t a simple shoyu chicken broth offered. This shop is clearly still a developing toddler.
We were told a stockpile of pork bones is simmered 20 hours for the tonkotsu based. Added for extra butteriness are kilos upon kilos of chicken feet. The biggest distinction between typical shio and shoyu ramen becomes moot at Ton Chan as both soups are milky due to tonkotsu based stock. To quickly tell the difference, one needs to distinguish the straight and thin noodles found in the shio versus the curly & thicker noodles of the shoyu. The “red miso tonkotsu” broth at Ton Chan is an overpowering, though quite delicious, mix of Shinshu miso (commonly marked as “golden” and mild) & tonkotsu. Curly, thick Futo-Chijire ramen (similar to Daikokuya) is the only option available in both the shoyu and the miso broths. Similar to ASA, extra green onions, naruto fishcake, spinach, corn, nori, kikurage are all available in addition to the stock slice of chashu, 2 egg halves, sheet of nori.
After 400 words, everyone probably just want to know one thing: Is it better than Santouka/Daikokuya/Jinya? Does Ton Chan make the Mottainai drive obsolete? I really can’t say/probably not; I’m just not a ramen otaku. Still, if the devil’s in the details, one should really pay attention to the dollops of black garlic oil – again, I’m accepting the server’s explanation as gospel, feel free to correct – served as part of the final ramen toppings. Prior to swirling the garlic oil about, the tonkotsu broth is already complex and pleasant; after dispersing the black garlic oil (seen below), the entire bowl becomes preternatural.
Caveat emptor: perhaps trying to cash in on Orochon’s success, Ton Chan is pushing the spicy ramen challenge. Though they bought a Polaroid just for this purpose, I’d suggest against such Daredevilish behavior. The base broth stands on its own.
Ton Chan Ramen
821 W Las Tunas Dr
San Gabriel, CA 91776
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