Los Angeles' Tatsu Ramen: Customized Ramen Noodles with So Much Soul
The Asian noodle. Oh how it swoons me so. Whether there are mounds of it floating in a bowl of rich beef broth or it's served up Singapore street-style with shrimp and a curry base, I'm obsessed. Time and time again I tell you, I'm a noodle head. I think you're probably beginning to believe me. I can't get enough of the stuff. Give me ramen, give me pho, or give me death. The death part...yeah, I may have gotten a bit carried away. I'm clearly not serious.
But I am serious about my newfound love for a particularly righteous ramen noodle shop in L.A. Tatsu Ramen. It never fails. In fact, my fiancé and I have been going to the place pretty much every Sunday for the last month. Our Sunday cheat meal(s) day has officially adapted gluttonous ramen noodle consumption. For going to Tatsu Ramen has become a ritual. It has also become a religious experience. That, I can also say, I'm very serious about.
Located on the Westside's Sawtelle Blvd. in "Little Osaka," Tatsu Ramen has some pretty stiff competition. And while I could easily give kudos to some of the other Japanese joints on this tiny stretch of street, I'm here today to tell you about Tatsu.
Upon arrival, we're fighting the crowds as we walk into Tatsu's contemporary little space, complete with an open air kitchen, communal table, and ipads affixed to the walls. Yes, that's correct. Guests place their orders using iPads. Tech nerds, rejoice. Tatsu's ramen is also customizable. So after choosing between several tempting ramen creations like "Old Skool Ramen" and "Black Ramen," you get to modify your order in terms of protein (pork chashu, tofu, or chicken), the amount of green onions you'd like ("Go Green" or "like a hulk"), the spice level, garlic intensity, and additional toppings you want thrown in the mix.
Add on a botttle of sake, a side of red rice, and maybe an extra seasoned soft-boiled egg, and you're all set to hand-deliver your receipt to one of the many friendly staff members walking around the place. From there, you can take a seat at the kitchen bar, at the communal table, or outside.
Tatsu's ramen comes with a delightfully complex Tonkotsu broth that's handmade fresh everyday for 12-14 hours before it's finally poured over perfectly al-dente ramen noodles. I can't even explain how satisfying the stuff is. It's pretty thick, impeccably salty, and boasts so many mouth-watering flavors that I couldn't even begin to identify. Perhaps I need to start training my palate in Japanese ingredients. That could be fun.
I can't decide which bowl I love most. I've devoured the Soul, the Bold, and the Red. They're all pretty stellar. But I suppose there's something about the Bold Ramen that really soothes my...ahem, soul. Tatsu's irresistible Tonkotsu broth comes paired with aromatic black garlic oil and sweet umami sauce as well as generous portion of ground beef.
The combo is downright luscious. Add to it some of their super tender, fall-apart pork chashu, wood-ear mushrooms, green onions ("like a hulk" for me), and a seasoned soft-boiled egg (as an add-on), and I've scored ramen noodle perfection.
The Red Ramen is also luscious. The stuff can catch you off guard if you're not prepared. It's like red, red and loaded with flavor. Tatsu's signature Tonkotsu broth is spiked with sweet and savory red sauce and served with ground beef. With this bowl, you can modify the level of spiciness so needless to say, I order it "Whoa that's hot." Maybe one day I'll go with the "Are you insane" option.
I also add an egg to it since those glorious gooey beatuies don't come standard with the Red. While I'm not really a red meat gal, I gotta say...their ground beef is a really unexpected treat in a bowl of ramen.
Last but not least...the Bold Ramen. Again, it's made with Tatsu's Homemade Tonkotsu broth as well as eleven seriously bold and delicious Japanese ingredients. Tatsu assures, this concoction is "not for the timid." However, I don't think you have to be a ramen "pro" to love it. It just so happens, the Bold Ramen is my fiancé's favorite.
If it were up to me, this ramen would be renamed "The Hangover Cure" because with such depth of flavor in that scrumptious thick broth, it could easily cure any sickness. Served up with one of those bodacious seasoned soft-boiled eggs as well as customization in terms of protein choice, garlic, spice level, and green onion portion, it's a brothy noodle head's dreamland.
The ramen is all devilishly good. I have to tell you though, if you have even a little bit of extra room for a side, then you simply must order the juicy pork bun. My goodness, how the juicy and oh so tender pork that's generously stuffed in the sweet soft bun does me right. Word from the wise: eat every last bit of your ramen and then take one of the buns home for later. You won't regret it.
When I moved to L.A. I knew I'd find some top-notch ramen shops. But I didn't know that I'd fall head over heels in love with one of the shops so quickly. While there are tons of ramen noodle joints in this city to explore, I'm gonna have a tough time resisting Tatsu. It's the real deal, friends. Oh, and I must add....they're opening a West Hollywood location on Melrose in the next month.