L.A. Ramen

shin-sen-gumi hakata ramen

Shin-Sen-Gumi Hakata Ramen
1601 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Ramen in L.A. seems to evolve mostly through imitation—one place doing something particularly well, then several followers copying it, sometimes with their own flair, sometimes not.

After awhile, though, if you're eating a lot of ramen, you really come to appreciate the places with a unique take. That is, if you have not, in fact, yet died of what coronary specialists call Hyperporko-hematosis, or Porked Blood.

Wow, David Tennant sure likes his medical humor. Do you actually have to go to medical school to play Dr. Who? 🤷🏼

shin-sen-gumi hakata ramen

In the Game of Ramen, Shin-Sen-Gumi is a solitary samurai, operating on Sawtelle way north of the "action," on a corner where the only other business is one of those fly-by-night travel agencies that someone is running out of their apartment.

To me, it's one of the only spots that feels like a bona fide "Ramen House"—not so much because it's overtly Japanese or refined, but simply because it feels like it's in its own world.

The atmosphere is boisterous (the whole staff yells in unison as you enter and as you leave), the energy is vibrant, and even the music is good. You never get the sense that there's ever any goal other than to keep doing what they do, which is very good Hakata ramen.

shin-sen-gumi hakata ramen

You fill out a little form that allows you to customize your soup precisely to your preference: half order or full order? Full broth or light broth? Hard noodle or soft noodle? And so forth, along with an extensive list of add-ons to tweak the flavor however you want.

And in spite of all the variables involved, I've never had my order prepared inaccurately, EXCEPT the one time I wrote on the form "PREPARE INACCURATELY," and they sent me a bowl of the chef's own feces.

Ebullient tricksters these guys!

shin-sen-gumi hakata ramen

On this visit I got a half-order of ramen with spicy miso paste, cloud ear mushrooms, and garlic chips, with a lemonade—about $12 or so. Love them noodles; they're among the thinnest around, thinner even than the ones at Santouka, and the broth is super flavorful. The freshness of the ingredients across the board is outstanding.

Sometimes I'll get an appetizer (the gyoza are great, and they have more esoteric stuff like spam musubi and fried octopus balls if you're so inclined), though on this day I decided to show some restraint, as I was watching my girlish figure. Well, not my girlish figure per se, but a girlish figure.

Oh alright, it was a Japanese Barbie™ I bought up the street, which the cashier had inadvertently put into the bag upside down. I could see all the way to Fukoka, if you know what I mean!

Review by Toothy Berserker, May 2014

More L.A. Ramen:
Kotoya Japanese Ramen & Bar ~ Los Angeles
Santouka ~ Los Angeles
Tsujita L.A. Artisan Noodle Annex ~ Los Angeles
Tentenyu Ramen ~ Los Angeles
Venice Ramen ~ Marina Del Rey