Food & Culture

The 14 Major Japanese Ramen Chains in Los Angeles That Are Responsible for Ramen’s Popularity in the U.S.

Main image: courtesy of Santouka Ramen. Orig. posted: 1/5/20, Update: 9/27/22, and 5/12/23.

In the last 14 years, I have been in LA, I have seen ramen ya’s (restaurants) come and go. While some have gone on to blow up, making it rain Benjamins enough to buy piles of blow and matching his and her Ferraris (in one case, Cadillacs and an Indian Roadmaster motorcycle).

After a decade in the SF Bay Area, I moved to LA after a short intermission back in Colorado to spend some time with my fun happy family. Well, that is what I tell myself I did it for, but my place was in LA, where the ramen is.

Ramen Chains

In the early 2000s in Los Angeles, there were only a few standouts for ramen, such as Daikokuya and Santouka. Now, there are 14 ramen chains in total and counting. 

Yelp was not even around at the time, and they did not pop up till 2004 (now, I just wish the site imploded).

Once in LA, one of the first things I did was to seek out ramen, although I knew it was not going to be easy to find an equivalent to the ramen in Japan. I did eventually find Daikokuya and Santouka which I should also point out was during the dark times. The days before Yelp which meant I had to actually eat at the restaurants to know any better. Restaurants such as Kouraku, Kohryu, Kairakutei, to Gomen were all experienced first-hand, and they are not all that.

The days of word of mouth were also a time when I learned who I could trust because I had one friend who judged restaurants solely on the quantity of food. If you want to know, he is no longer part of my (Greg’s) circle of trust.

Japanese Chains vs. the Rise of “Instant Ramen” Bandwagon Restaurants

You can not find, and I highly doubt the vast majority of chefs out there could ever replicate Daikokuya (slightly easier) or Santouka’s ramen (the harder one of the two). I say that because I have looked in English and Japanese, and there are no readily available copycat recipes. That should not come as a surprise because a lot of restaurant owners heavily guard their recipes, and Japanese ramen is not like a recipe for pasta puttanesca, pho, to your gam gams secret apple pie recipe, which isn’t all that much of a secret, it’s lard.

Photo Description: a bowl of ramen from Tatsunoya ramen which specializes in tonkotsu (pork) ramen. There are two pieces of pork belly chashu, along with kikurage, and what looks like cabbage and moyashi (bean sprouts).
Oh bowl of ramen that parts of Murica does not understand (they think ramen means bust load of “Asiany” ingredients atop spaghetti noodles is ramen). Image courtesy of Tatsunoya Ramen.

In Japan, many people learn from working for others through apprenticing until they’re able to open a place on their own which can take a decade or more to do.

Ramen Chains

Most of the Americanized ramen restaurants nowadays utilize generic instant ramen stock/broth sold and distributed by the large food suppliers.

US ramen shops are all about freezer bags and are the types of places Gordon Ramsay would flip out about.

Although, if you know the U.S., it’s all about shortcuts and making that almighty dollar, so all the poke shops bandwagoners are now moving on to ramen which is only made possible because many of the food distributors are now producing “instant ramen kits (just add water).” These kits include the soup stock, chashu, and everything else you would need to produce a basic ramen more on par with cheap instant ramen, than Japanese restaurant ramen.

I Have Categorized the Ramen Chains in Two Groups

There are a number of great shops with only one location, but I have decided to only focus on multi-store shops otherwise the list would go on for days.

Japanese Based

Multi-store chains that started/based in Japan.

American Based

Multi-store businesses that started in the U.S., but the staff/owner are from, have trained in Japan, or produce a ramen that is reflective of Japanese ramen.

Photo Description: this is an all too common site to see in LA on 1st street at all hours of the night, a line in front of Daikokuya. Definitely one of the most popular restaurants on the block, along with the udon shop further down the block.
“Bob, party of two (no Bob, last call for Bob).” I can be a Bob (right this way to your seat). Image courtesy of Daikokuya (via Facebook)

With over 8,000+ Yelp reviews, Daikokuya was the spot that helped blow up ramen in the U.S., and it was also one of the best go to spots after or when bar hopping in DTLA (Far Bar is a couple shops down to Wolf & Crane down the street).


American Based, the Bishamon Group Restaurants

Back in 2004, when I first moved down to LA, there were a lot of average ramen spots in Los Angeles. One of the only spots worth going out of your way for was Daikokuya in Little Tokyo, which also had a second location inside of the Costa Mesa Marukai (now Tokyo Central).

This was the go to spot in Los Angeles back in the day (still is), and their Costa Mesa, Marukai location struggled making you want to drive to the 45m to DTLA/Little Tokyo (that Orange County location obviously closed a while back).

Marukai was acquired by Donki, and that food court became a continuously revolving businesses.

Unfortunately, that location suuuucked and closed down a while back. So it was worth the drive because the broth was the only one at that time that was like something you would find in Japan, and the only weak aspect is their toppings such as the chashu, which could use some help, and they go hard on the green onions, which I liked tho.

Number of locations:
4 (El Monte, Sunset, Sawtelle, and Little Tokyo)
About (in their words):
There is no “about” page for Daikokuya (in a Instagram post in ’23, they finally put up a history of Daikokuya where they cite being founded in 2002), and all I have heard through friends that at one point they were trying to open 10 restaurants via the Bishamon Group which does not consist of all ramen ya’s. I should also mention that Takaaki Kohyama (this dude is fockn cool), the man behind Daikokuya, also opened Hachioji, where he’s from.

E.A.K. Ramen

Japanese/Machida City Based

I have never been to EAK, but I have been to Jidaiya which is iekei or Yokohama style ramen, and my mind is blown how this style is not more popular then it is.

Most Japanese ramen chains do not engage the American public because marketing is not a Japanese thing, along with knowing anything about the internet, so E.A.K Melrose flew under the radar. That might be the reason why their only California location closed on Melrose.

Melrose has changed over the decades, and it was not a spot for food, unless you are Providence further down the street.

Like most Japanese restaurants, I attribute their perceived lack of growth due to the Japanese mentality/approach which is to not market or engage the market. I could totally be wrong because I do not know the management or the owners, but if this were in the hands of an American, I think they would have much more notoriety like Jidaiya does because it is owned and operated by Torihei (they’ve been around).

Number of locations:
1 (Los Angeles/Melrose) and 3 (West Village NY, and Hell’s Kitchen NY).
About (in their words):
“E.A.K. Ramen aka Machida Shoten in Japan, started back in 2008 in Machida City, Japan. This was our first shop to fulfill our goal to spread the IEKEI style of ramen to the world.”

Photo Description: EAK ramen with their funky art deco looking bowl with bold black, white and red graphics. In the bowl, thick noodlels, spinach, an egg, and nori (seaweed).
Murican’ized ramen loves adding salad greens, so I expected iekei to be a whole lot more popular. Image courtesy of E.A.K. Ramen


American, Los Angeles Based

Hiro Igarashi and Nori Akasaka are both OG’s in the food and restaurant industry, and if you want to read more about them I actually met with Igarashi’san and had a small interview with him. That happened in 2017 when they first started in Irvine, and now they are up to 6 shops with 1 of them in Santa Clara (the Bay Area), congrats homies.

This chain is gangsta because of the two two, Hiro Igarashi and Nori Akasaka. After doing a small interview with Hiro, you will know why because they are more engaged, so they choose great locations, like the one in Irvine to kick things off.

Nori’san is an OG in the food industry.

Number of locations:
6 in under 3 years (Irvine, Long Beach, Pasadena, Santa Clara, Santa Fe Springs, and San Diego).
About (in their words):
“Hiro and Nori met in 2011 in Los Angeles. In 2017, they founded HiroNori Craft Ramen to create an unmatched ramen taste and experience that expresses their passion, knowledge, and craft.”


Japanese based, Managed by the Oki Doki Group (CA for California, not short for Cat or Canada)

Going in the first couple of times, I would run into some of the staff from Oki Doki’s other restaurants, specifically San Shi Go. That made for a very welcoming environment because if it is your first time, the ordering form can be quite overwhelming.

A solid spot managed by the Oki Doki Group, the same way Ippudo is managed by the Panda Restaurant Group (PRG). Although, do not expect the same growth or capability as PRG.

The Oki Doki group owns a sushi spot and another noodle spot (udon and soba), and they tried to do a ramen spot of their own which closed down (I did like the concept).

The ordering form is like most Hakata style ramen ya’s like Ichiran where there is an extensive amount of options. Options from taste, noodle hardness, amount of green onions, to what toppings you want – the true meaning of “have it your way,” what’s up Burger King.

Number of locations:
4 3 (Costa Mesa, Torrance, Little Tokyo LA, and Lake Forest).
“Kousuke Yoshimura was born in June 1976 in Fukuoka city.
His father was a sushi-chef and his mother ran a Japanese-style bar. Naturally he got interested in cooking in childhood. Aside from his regular work, he had built up his experience in a gyoza restaurant for two years. He came back to his mother’s bar and he devoted himself to cooking. Though those experiences, he completed his original tonkotsu ramen by himself and opened.”

One of my favorite spots for a tonkotsu.


Japanese based, Managed by the Panda Restaurant Group

Never been since the only location was on Santa Monica blvd in West Hollywood, and I never went out of my way to try it. I wasn’t interested because I did not have high expectations for the Panda Restaurant Group. Not like that they are not capable, but because trying to take on and to produce Japanese ramen at a level above instant ramen is a base level requirement to be competitive (it’s not a Pieology pizza).

The first location opened in New York in 2008, and I never went out of my way to visit their Santa Monica location blvd (West Hollywood) location. I had low expectations for the Panda Restaurant Group, but I am sure they are doing good job with the brand.

I have only been to Panda Express maybe once, but I have been to their flagship restaurant, the Panda Inn.

On top of that, you also have to find and keep the right employees to produce consistency (is “consistency” a 7 habit of being effective?). My predictions backs those challenges on Yelp with a 3.5 for Santa Monica and a 3.5 for San Francisco.

Number of locations:
2 in Los Angeles (Santa Monica, West Hollywood), 3 in the Bay Area (San Francisco, Berkeley, Cupertino) 3 in New York (East Village NY, Midtown NY, and 5th Ave NY).
About (in their words):
“Shigemi Kawahara is the founder of Ippudo was born in Fukuoka prefecture in 1952. After opening “HAKATA IPPUDO” in ’85, Shigemi Kawahara established CHIKARANOMOTO (lit. “The Source of Power”) GROUP in ’86. It was through Shigemi Kawahara opening a ramen shop in the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum in ’94 that tonkotsu (pork broth) ramen gained popularity throughout all of Japan.”


American Based

I am not a fan of Jinya’s ramen/food, and out of all the chains, this is the only one in particular where I think they are more about the franchising. That is not a bad thing because I see this chain potentially dominating in the Midwest and rural areas, but just not LA.

Out of all the chains (Jinya is a franchise queen), this is the one I see so many locations going out of business from their Costa Mesa location across the street from Newport Beach Lamborghini, Sawtelle, to their Pacific Beach location closing.

The Panda Express off Sawtelle is still open.

I say that because most of the SoCal locations I have come across have gone out of business. The first being in Costa Mesa where I just happened to know a couple of their staff to the Sawtelle Japantown, and Mission Beach location in San Diego, all closed.

I attribute them struggling due to their haphazard ramen that could use some work on taste although probably the biggest issue is their initial start-up investment/cost? I assume that because they have some crazy build-outs that I really like because they utilize the architectural firm Ikedo Design out of Solana Beach that I have been following for several years now. One of their current projects near to me is opening near Denver’s iconic Union Station (across the street) 1720 Wynkoop Street Suite B-2, Denver, Colorado 80202.

Number of locations:
4 currently open (Burbank, DTLA, Santa Monica, Studio City), and 2 (Encino and Tustin) coming soon.
About (in their words):
“The son of a successful restaurateur in Japan, Tomonori knew what it would take to build a great restaurant. His father had owned an Izakaya-style restaurant named Jinya, where he focused on three values: Delicious food at reasonable prices that’s accessible to all.

Wanting to revive his father’s dream, Tomonori opened his first JINYA in Tokyo in 2000. Named for a Samurai soldier that was close to the community and owned a small property, JINYA was an appropriate name that embodied the ideals of Tomonori’s new restaurant. When he saw the need for authentic ramen in the United States, he decided to set up shop in California and continue his family’s legacy. JINYA Ramen Bar was born.”

All I notice, as Asian, is how that girl is using her chopsticks. Jinya in Alpharetta, Georgia. Image courtesy of Jinya

Kai Ramen

American Based

If it were not for the girl I had been dating in the valley, I probably would not have ever come across Kai Ramen. I also did not have high expectations for ramen in the valley, and typically I would go eat birria instead (Birrieria Mexico in Van Nuys is one of the BEST in LA). Luckily I put off eating goat that day and chose to try out Kai ramen because it is now one of my tops 5’s in LA.

I love birria de chivo, but there was that time I ended up at Kai Ramen in the valley, not the Chinese one, the valley girl one. I am glad I did because Kai is standout.

OMG, like, there is not just one valley.

Number of locations:
3 open with 3 coming soon (Alhambra, Sherman Oaks, West Hollywood, KTown, Arcadia, and Santa Monica).
About (in their words):
” American born Japanese Chef (Tomo) Nishimura managed his first Ramen restaurant in Mountain View, CA in 1997. Following over 20 years of success, Chef Nishimura decided to move to Los Angeles and open his own restaurant. Today, a fast growing and highly acclaimed Ramen restaurant chain, Kai Ramen operates in three locations in California – Alhambra, Sherman Oaks, and West Hollywood.”

Kitakata Ban Nai

Japanese/Kitakata, Japan, Mensyoku U.S.A. Inc.

On any given day, you will see a line out front of the Kitakata Costa Mesa location because it might be a small location, but it is also a very popular ramen ya that has a very devout following due to the lighter pork broth. If that is not enough of a draw, try the gyoza here with the little dab of yuzu kosho that they serve here with their gyoza.

The first Kitakata location opened up where Kohryu Ramen used to be in the same strip mall as Manupuku in Costa Mesa. That location was constantly busy due to the small location, but they have had massive growth since then.

This is so Japanese the way they approached everything with the staff (Japanese) and size of the restaurant, small.

Number of locations:
6 (Costa Mesa, Buena Park, Irvine Fountain Valley, Hoffman Estates in IL, Upper West Side NY).
About (in their words):
“in 1958, the original Ban Nai Shokudo (eatery) was opened in Kitakata city by Shingo and Hisa Ban Nai, a married Kitakata local, and was operating as local favorites.” Currently, there are 57 locations of Kitakata Ramen Ban Nai throughout Japan.

The light side of ramen. Image courtesy of Kitakata Ban Nai


Japanese/Hokkaido based, ab-out Co., Ltd (primarily for Washington)

I absolutely LOVE Santouka, and I could eat it weekly, and my go to favorite is the shio ramen with the ume (pickled plum) and the “special pork” (tontoro/pork jowl). If that sounds good to you, I suggest that you read my post about Santouka titled “Bow Down to a Ramen Chain That is Greater than You, Hokkaido Ramen, Santouka.

15m, 30m, 45m, 1hr, were the little markers they had when ramen started to catch on with the general populace, or possibly due to every Santouka location in California being located in food courts, unlike every other location out of state.

I think there are different owners?

Number of locations:
5 (Santa Monica, Torrance, Costa Mesa, Irvine, Brea), 1 (San Diego), 1 in the Bay Area (San Jose), and 8 elsewhere (Chicago, New Jersey, Honolulu, Seattle Bellevue, Boston Harvard Square, Boston Back Bay, Dallas Plano, Waikiki, Seattle University Village).
About (in their words):
It was in the 1980s that Santouka took its first steps toward dominating the world and began to draw attention with its shio ramen served with a small, pickled plum in a unique round bowl. Santouka started its history when founder Hitoshi Hatanaka said to his family. “I’m going to make delicious ramen.”

Shin Sen Gumi Ramen

American based, Shin Sen Gumi Group

I have tried SSG’s ramen a number of times, but it’s just not my favorite place although I love their yakitori which was a weekly routine. I think SSG knows that their ramen is on the weak side, so they have reduced themselves to how many additional toppings can you add to your ramen. If that is their thing, it just might be why there’s always a line for the Fountain Valley location… just go to the appropriate door because there is one for ramen, and the other is for yakitori.

Daikokuya, Santouka, and Shin Sen Gumi were the most popular (Foo Foo Tei is on that short list), but SSG I avoided unless it was for their yakitori, which I love.

SSG has gone the more is better route by offering a 1001 ramen toppngs. to cover a eak ramen (like most Americanized ramen).

Number of locations:
5, plus 1 togo location (Fountain Valley, Gardena, Rosemead, Little Tokyo Los Angeles, and West LA).
About (in their words):
Mitsuyasu Shigeta a.k.a “Kyokucho” the founder/owner opened shop up on July 1992. The group itself owns 14 restaurants along with a central kitchen. I also have to add their own About Us because it’s GOOD: “At one time in the Los Angeles, the Japanese community it was thought taboo to own more than one store. There was a belief that such an endeavor could not succeed. Shin-Sen-Gumi owner and “Kyokucho” (Chief Boss) Mitsuyasu Shigeta broke that taboo when he opened his highly successful 2nd and 3rd stores at the same time, to the surprise of those around him. Additionally, when he decided to open the first Hakata ramen shop in Los Angeles, the employees of the Shin-Sen-Gumi group were unanimous in their opposition. The conventional thinking at the time was that Tonkotsu (pork bone) soup was something that only people from Kyushu ate, let alone the fact that many Americans did not eat pork for religious reasons. However, Mr. Shigeta followed his own beliefs and succeeded in turning this way of thinking on its head. Indeed, the greater the resistance the deeper the feeling of joy when one can overcome such thinking. If one can expand the possibilities of dreams and desires a new joy can be found and that, in the end, is what helps people grow.”

They are all about the toppings. Image courtesy of Shin Sen Gumi

Silverlake Ramen

American Based

The stock and tare (flavoring) are the focus of the bowl, kind of like Daikokuya although the competitive edge goes to Silverlake ramen when it comes to being competitive as business because they are probably more in tune with the culture of LA. I say that because the experience of going to a Silverlake ramen is a reflection of them, the toppings, their wait staff, to the clientele feels like Murica… not to mention, they started in Silverlake, which btw I highly recommend El Cochinito in Silverlake (next to the Baskin Robbins), if you like or haven’t had Cuban food before.

This is like if two non-Japanese from Los Angeles (specifically Silverlake) were to take over Daikokuya and franchise it with Americanized touches.

Like, OMG, here is your tonkatsu ramen.

Number of locations:
8 (eventually 16: Sunset, San Monica, Silverlake 2GO, DTLA, Concord, LBX, Concord Mills, Oxnard, Koreatown, Santa Clara, Bella Terra, Irvine Spectrum, Plaza 14, Kirkland, WA, Charlotte, NC, Midtown, and Atlanta, GA).
About (in their words):
“Born and bred in the city of angels. Silverlake Ramen was created with a combined passion and experience for creating ramen that embodies delicious quality, and traditional ingredients. We stand true to our ramen, and believe it’s the best we’ve ever had…A ramen our neighbors can brag about!

Silverlake embodies the free spirit and casual vibe of Los Angeles. Cooked up by two chefs who drove their love for noodles and ramen, they dreamed up a brand that would be unpretentious, and original in it’s way of thinking. Similar to the environment in which ramen was invented. We are now taking that vibe and serving up bowls of it in locations across the nation.

We believe in serving good vibes only! Our mission is to serve you affordable food that is made and made with love. We are obsessed with ramen, and we are excited to share our passion with you…straight from our kitchen to your bowl!”


Japanese/Fukuoka, Japan based

Unfortunately, I never got a chance to go, and I am dying to try them out. So, I do not have much to say other than, damn, what’s up with them choosing Pasadena? It’s about time somebody opened up there because there’s not much in the area for notable Japanese food.

It’s in Pasadena, and that is all I can say since I never got to try them out. A city where my uncle lives because of JPL, and Matsuri and Sushi Roku were the only legit Japanese restaurants in the area.

It’s good to see not all Japanese businesses choosing an area with a ton of Japanese.

How many locations:
2 (Pasadena and Silverlake)
Ramen Tatsunoya was born on May 14th, 1999.
The Kamitsu branch, which is the very first store, is in Kurume City, Fukuoka, where founder, Ryuta Kajiwara, was born and raised. Today, there are nine Ramen Tatsunoya shops, and five more under a different label, “Ramen Ibuki” in Japan.


Japanese/Tokyo, Japan Based

I would have to put Tsujita in my top 3 in Los Angeles and not just with ramen, but also sushi. Tsujita’san’s game is so strong that I think he’s made a positive impact on Sawtelle Japantown because he owns four restaurants on Sawtelle blvd. Not only does it attract more people into the community, but it also pulls in other businesses like Toridolls Marugame Udon. So the way I see it, Tsujita is not only helping Japantown, but the Japanese and Japanese-American communities presence in Los Angeles.

Oh my, when it comes to ramen, I feel Tsujita was that game changer in LA. I also think if it were not for many ramen shops, but especially Tsujita, Sawtelle Japantown and Little Tokyo be a joke.

Many older Japanese Americans have retired and sold off their business or are no longer in the industry while their kids have gone off to become doctors and all sorts of professions.

How many locations:
4 (Sawtelle Little Tokyo, Fairfax LA, and Glendale)
Takehiro Tsujita is da man/owner/chef, and Tsujita’san dominates Sawtelle with his killer noodles from ramen, tantanmentsukemen, to even sushi. That should be no surprise because the man is straight outta Tokyo where he lives, owns, and operates a number of successful ramen restaurants in and around Asia.

Fat is flavor

Yamadaya Ramen

American Based

This is one of the shops that got in early when ramen started to gain in popularity, and I would frequent this average location over trying to battle it out for a parking space at Santouka/Mitsuwa.

This place is average at best, and they have struggled with inconsistency in the kitchen although I am sure it’s hard to retain staff who are not on a visa which requires them to stay employed.

My goto was the tsukemen.

Also on a big tangent, this is the spot I met one of the hottest girls I have ever met. Our eyes seriously met right when I walked through the door (never happens) because she was eating at the bar in front of the entrance by herself. Luckily for me, before I knew it, I got sat right next her, what luck. The more amazing thing, is that she initiated a conversation with me (that never happens, especially since she was Nihonjin). I was like this is too good to be true which it was because after ten minutes of chatting she says she’s there to meet up with her boyfriend who worked there. Well doesn’t that suck, but it was nice to meet Ai.

How many locations:
3 in SoCal (Costa Mesa, Torrance, Culver City), 1 in the Bay Area (San Francisco).
Jin Yamada started way back in I think 2010? The original location is in Torrance location, and if you want to learn more about Yamada’san, you can read the article how he sourced a ramen chef from Kyushu in this article by the LA Weekly.

I know I said Los Angeles, but I had to include these two spots.

New York


Japanese/Kyushu, Japan based

I have been to the location in Fukuoka, which I thought was a solid product, but in New York, they are charging twice as much. Yea, there is no way I would pay that much, and I do not know how they will survive. Even in New York, that has got to be some steep pricing by even New York standards.

$19 dollar ramen cuz NYC and Murica although ($6-$11 in Japan) “the average price of a standard 18-inch pie in NYC is $16.98, while a 12-inch specialty version hovers at $19.23.”

For the full article by the New York Post “Forget dollar slices — New York pizza prices are soaring” in 2018

Number of locations:
3 (Brooklyn, Midtown, and Times Square).
About (in their words):
“ICHIRAN’s story began in Hakata, the epicenter of the tonkotsu ramen movement. We are on a mission to provide our guests with the best tonkotsu ramen, using only the finest ingredients and the most advanced techniques developed by our master artisans.”

San Francisco Bay Area

Mensho Tokyo SF

Japanese/Tokyo, Japan based

I would say Mensho is the biggest standout of all the ramen restaurants on the West Coast and probably the country. Tomoharu Shono’san is the man behind it all, and he founded Menya Shono in 2005. Presently, Shono’san owns and operates 7 shops in Japan and his location in San Francisco (Lower Nob Hill).

Aside from Tsujita, I think Mensho puts ramen on the map in the United States because Shono’san is no hack (no restaurant supplier frozen generic ramen stocks here).

I hope dude still has his spot in Twitter HQ.

Number of locations:
7 shops in Japan (Menya Shono/tonkotsu gyokai ramen, Gachi/tori paitan ramen, Gotsubo/vegetable ramen, Aburasoba Gachi/soupless ramen, Mensho Tokyo/lamb ramen, Mensho/farm to bowl ramen, Hashi to Renge/spice ramen).
About (in their words):
“2005 was the year we first founded Menya Shono. At the time we were putting our hearts and souls into expanding the business, focusing on making each and every person who walked through our doors happy by serving up delicious ramen, one bowl at a time. “

Shono’san is GANGSTA AF. Image courtesy of Mensho

Sizing Up the Ramen Chains

Yea, lets see if I can explain this by categorizing them into set categories.

The Ramen Chain OG’s of Los Angeles

The clear winner is Santouka because they are extremely consistent and on point with their toppings, taste, and pricing.

  • Daikokuya / Los Angeles
  • Santouka / Hokkaido, Japan
  • Shin Sen Gumi / Los Angeles

Kyushu/Tonkotsu Ramen Chains

Out of the 4 restaurants listed, I have only been to Ichiran in Fukuoka, Japan and Ikkousha in Costa Mesa. Out of the two, and I definitely prefer Ikkousha.

  • Ichiran / Fukuoka, Japan
  • Ikkousha / Fukuoka, Japan
  • Ippudo / Fukuoka, Japan
  • Tatsunoya / Fukuoka, Japan
Photo Description: the ordering system at Tatsu Ramen off of Melrose in Los Angeles.
My ex using the ordering system at Tatsu Ramen that I left off this list (with only two locations on Sawtelle and Melrose).

The Ramen Franchise Queens (Nationwide Ramen Chains)

Real Japanese ramen is hard to do, so a franchise makes a lot of sense.

  • Jinya / Los Angeles
  • Silverlake Ramen / Los Angeles

The Ramen Innovator (for Something Different)

If you want to see who is defining and pushing the boundaries of ramen, there’s only one in the U.S.

  • Menya Tokyo SF / Tokyo, Japan / San Francisco

My Top 5 Ramen Chain Picks (in Alphabetical order)

My mouth salivates at the thought of any these places.

  • Daikokuya / Los Angeles
  • Ikkousha / Fukuoka, Japan
  • Kai Ramen / Los Angeles
  • Santouka / Hokkaido, Japan
  • Tsujita / Los Angeles
I took this after trying to walk off the food coma I had after eating the tsukemen at Tsujita (that’s the line for Tsujita Annex).
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