Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Mini Foodventure #44: Daikokuya (Downtown/Little Tokyo)

I may not be a ramen expert - but I know when I taste a good steamy bowl of noodles & soup and I (and half of Los Angeles, seemingly) had fond memories of Daikokuya's ramen a few months ago. However, the long lines were always a turn off and always to be expected. But after my dining companion that night told me that the waits are shorter as of late, I decided to brave the potential mob for another hit of noodles, hoping that the crowds had thinned out because of the restaurant's expanded hours and not because of a drop in quality . . .

There were, indeed, unusually few people waiting outside the place, we still had to loaf around for a good half-hour before being seated. But after we were, service was the usual cordial but swift.

While the restaurant's claim to fame is their ramen bowls, made with kurobuta pork chashu and a tonkotsu stock that has been simmering for a day, I opted to go a little more experimental and went for another one of my favorite Japanese homesytle dish: oyakodon!

Juicy chicken and egg simmered with onions in a slightly sweet dashi, mirin and shoyu sauce over steamy fluffy rice . . . is what I expected. What I got was dry chicken and near-rubbery eggs, possibly from overcooking and/or not enough sauce. Adding insult to injury, the rice, which was just OK, could've really used the flavoring from the sauce.

My dining companion smartly decided to stick with what she knew and ordered the bowl of ramen alongside a mini-unadon--

Fortunately, the eel donburi fared better than my chicken/egg one; my DC thought it was too sweet for her but I thought it was a great complement to the moist and rich unagi. And OK rice was much better here since there was all that leftover sweet unagi sauce to mix them in.

And the ramen? . . .

. . . still solidly good, the broth was savory, meaty and nicely accented with negi, the noodles are substantial and tender, and the wonderfuly marbled chashu almost melts onto my tongue. All in all, a decent (and generous) helping of noodles.

As yummy as the dish was, it wasn't as great as I remembered it, though I'm not sure if the quality actually went south since they accomodate more people now, if my memories were playing tricks on me, if it seemed tastier when I have to wait in line for it or if I'm just influenced by
recent reviews that aren't as optimistic. Nonetheless, it's still on my list as a place to go if I'm ever craving ramen (and not oyakodon!), though I'd easily look for another eatery if I discover the wait-list has entered the double-digits.

327 E. First Street
Los Angeles
Web site

What do others say?
Abby also enjoyed the rich, meaty broth that "takes no prisoners"
Colleen is left in awe by the "toro of pork"
DailyGluttony adds this place to her legion of (ra)menwhore ;)


Pirikara said...

Hello~~ yeah, oyakodon, or any of the other bowls for that matter, isn't the way to go at Daikokuya. I knew people who worked there and basically anything outside of ramen and their kurobuta dishes are on the menu simply because their non-Japanese clientele would complain otherwise. (We're too used to expansive menus in the U.S.) It's on there to appease, not to impress. So in short, stick to the ramen. Though I love their tsukemen.

H. C. said...


I've learned the errors of my ways ;) I almost always get ramen when I'm there but decided to check out some of their other dishes this time.

I'd say, screw the whiny "Where's the other stuff" clientele! Shorter wait times for me! :D


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