Menya Musashi Niten Ichiryu: A Pictorial Essay


#1

Menya Musashi is the latest ramen-ya to debut in Sawtelle Japantown. Its sister locations in Shinjuku, Singapore and Hawai’i have been successful enough to garner the brand a cult following.

The owners of the former Tentenyu Ramen have converted the space into a jidaigeki (samurai period film)-themed decor eatery, featuring intense broth and big pieces of stewed pork. Today was the last day of soft opening (Grand Opening on July 21) - Tonight, there was quite the queue to try the $5 bowls (promo event price)!

And now, on to the food…

Signature Menya Musashi Tsukemen…

Broth: Indeed rich, as one would expect, with intense dashi umami. The inevitable comparison will be made to Tsujita & Tsujita Annex, both just down the street. I think the difference, though, will be the mouth-feel (AKA ‘silkiness’) of the Menya Musashi broth, as well as a relative toning down when placed next to Tsujita’s tart pungency. (Note: I chose the “Rich Broth” option, as opposed to the standard broth which is also offered - so if you are wary of the high-viscosity soup, then maybe ordering the standard broth would be more to your liking).

Pork: Big, unsliced, unapologetic pieces of delicious stewed fatty pork (this is pretty much buta no kakuni) top the noodles. The pork alone hold its own here. A thinner piece of pounded, breaded schnitzel-esque pork also accompanies the bowl. When dipped into the broth, it is quite a bite.

Noodles: Flat yellow noodles, reminiscent of fettucine, with density and ‘Q’. The perfect partner in crime, when you take into account the broth and the porky components. The gestalt feels much akin to a stroganoff at times, so deeply satisfying.

Garnishes/Condiments: The requisite nori comes served with the bowl. But the more interesting bits are the Menya Musashi signature fruit-infused vinegar (meant to be added after the first half of the noodles are eaten, to change up the total character of the remaining tsukemen). Also optional (on the table) is a container of garlic chili chips, for those who want even more kick.

The Menya Musashi tsukemen was impressive. I cannot wait to come back and try their ramen. Sawtelle is now even awesomer.

RECOMMENDED.

Menya Musashi Niten Ichiryu
2012 Sawtelle Bl.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
310.231.7188
menyamusashi-la.us


#2

Love the photos. So artsy. :slight_smile:


#3

Quite a queue indeed, I passed by around 11am and it was down the block. Thanks for the info!


#4

Thanks @J_L. Nice report. I’m curious and excited to see how it compares to Tsujita.


#5

I was here yesterday (Sat, July 21). There is free 2 hour parking in the back of the building and no wait at 1:30 pm. We sat at the bar and were very warmly received by the wait staff. We both tried the tsukemen that came with 2 chunks of pork belly, 2 small pieces of tonkatsu (breaded pork) and a properly boiled egg, easily the meatiest tsukemen/ramen I’ve ever seen. We chose the regular, but you could upgrade to large for only $1. We also enjoyed the thick sauce, It was creamy but lacked the subtle spiciness of Tsujita (at least as I once remembered it) but the fruity vinegar and the garlic bits added a necessary edge. A neighbor sitting next to me had enjoyed the Menya in Shinjuku and also enjoyed this one but did not give specifics.

is it “better” than Tsujita? I prefer this version, but will happily go back and forth between the two.versions.

I like the meatiness of Menya
Tsujita’s sauce is/was more interesting once upon a time
Menya’s staff is much friendlier
Menya has 2 hour parking
Menya accepts credit cards.
Menya has superior ambience.


#6

I would agree for now.


#7

Does Menya offer that incredible spicy takana at Tsujita?


#8

Menya Musashi - Grand Opening

We were curious and excited about Menya Musashi Niten Ichiryu opening up on Sawtelle ever since Eater LA had mentioned it was moving in (replacing the rather short-lived Tentenyu Ramen). Then reading @J_L’s soft opening report made us even more excited to give it a try. :slight_smile:

With its pedigree from Japan (originally founded in 1996 in Shinjuku, Tokyo), there were high hopes it might deliver some more excellent Ramen and Tsukemen and contribute another worthy contender for Best Ramen & Tsukemen in the city.

Walking in, it is indeed as @J_L mentioned, the decor making it feel like an old school Jidaigeki-like eatery, complete with Samurai murals all over the restaurant. :sweat_smile:

Our server described Menya Musashi as Tokyo-style Ramen & Tsukemen, and their offerings were basically variations on Tsukemen (Dipping Ramen Noodles), and Ramen Soup Noodles, along with a few Rice Bowls.

Niten Ichiryu Tsukemen - Regular Size (Pork & Fish Broth, Kakuni (Braised Pork Belly), Pork Cutlet, Ajitama (Marinated Soft Boiled Egg), Seaweed, Green Onion, Menma (Bamboo Shoots)):

Their claim to fame is serving both their Tsukemen and Ramen with massive chunks of Kakuni (Braised Pork Belly), instead of the regular Chashu Pork slices, and with some Tonkatsu (Deep Fried Pork Cutlets) thrown in for good measure). :open_mouth:

Taking a sip, the Tsukemen Broth is definitely a potent Tokyo-style Tonkotsu-Gyokai Broth, made of long-stewed Pork Bones, along with a nice briny punch from Urume Sardines, Saba (Mackerel), and Katsuo (Bonito).

It is thankfully less fatty than Tsujita Ramen’s infamous heart-attack-inducing broth of Pork Fat, Pork and more Pork Fat. :stuck_out_tongue: (@Ns1 you can feel a bit more at ease.) But it’s still very porky and briny.

The Noodles are wide, flat noodles almost like a Fettuccine. They are manufactured from Sun Noodles for the restaurant. They were cooked rather firm (a good thing), with a nice bite and chew to them. I’m not sure they matched the Tonkotsu-Gyokai Broth, however. It didn’t clash, but it didn’t seem to fit as well as Tsujita’s Noodle does for their Tsukemen.

Their Buta no Kakuni (Braised Pork Belly) is impressive and scary looking. It’s a lot of Pork! :sweat_smile: The good news is that it tasted fresh. There were chunks on this visit that were soft and tender, but there were some bites that were chewy and too firm (not stewed long enough). :frowning: It wasn’t bad, but if they were cooked long enough and tender enough, this would be amazing. As it is, it’s a mixed bag.

The Tonkatsu (Deep Fried Pork Cutlet) that comes with the bowl? It’s OK. It’s sufficiently crispy, but it’s nowhere close to the excellence of the Tonkatsu at Kagura, or Kimukatsu down the street.

Towards the latter half of your bowl, you can add some of their Fruit / Berry-Infused Vinegar (as @J_L mentioned), and it transforms the broth and taste into something different; neat. :slight_smile:

The Spicy Fried Garlic Chips (a.k.a. not for @Bookwich - stay away!) :wink: were a nice addition to the Broth, giving it a massive Garlic punch with each sip if you like Spicy Garlic.

Finally the Ajitama (Soft Boiled Egg) was almost perfectly cooked, still a gorgeous orange-red liquidy center. :slight_smile: However, flavor-wise, it was only very lightly seasoned, but with how potent the Broth was, that’s probably fine.

From the Rice Bowls section, the only noteworthy one that caught our eye was something not offered in their Noodles:

Pork Katsu Curry Don (Pork Cutlet, Shredded Cabbage, Curry Sauce, Tonkatsu Sauce):

Speaking with the server, she confirmed that they it’s a Housemade Curry (not using mass manufactured Curry)! Nice! :blush: We couldn’t wait to try this…

It captures the familiar taste you expect in a Japanese Curry, but it’s far less gloppy and thick like the mass-produced, MSG-laden Curry House Curry. It’s fragrant, lightly aromatic, and not too salty either. It was a pretty good Housemade Japanese Curry! :blush: (Paging @bulavinaka @Dommy @J_L @PorkyBelly @paranoidgarliclover and all Japanese Curry lovers.)

Ramen (Served with Thick Noodles, Pork & Fish Broth, Kakuni (Braised Pork Belly), Seaweed, Green Onion, Menma (Bamboo Shoots)):

Their other main offering (taking the other half of the menu (page 2)) is Ramen Noodles. Taking a sip, it’s less salty, and definitely more Tonkotsu (Pork Bone) focused than their Tsukemen. While it is still a Tonkotsu-Gyokai (Pork Bone & Fish) Broth, you hardly taste the Urume, Katsuo and Saba.

We liked their Ramen Soup more than Tsujita’s Ramen in this case. :slight_smile: The Noodles also matched the Broth better (not as wide and flat and eggy like the Tsukemen Noodles were).

The Kakuni Pork Belly in this bowl was softer and more tender than in the Tsukemen (so it’s inconsistent). Both were very fresh (tasting like it was cooked that day (great)), but one bowl had chewy / very firm bites, while other pieces were quite tender.

Service was very good as it was the Grand Opening and they were checking on everyone constantly, so it’s a huge plus from Tsujita down the street.

While Menya Musashi Niten Ichiryu delivers a very solid, respectable bowl of Tokyo-style Tonkotsu-Gyokai Tsukemen and Ramen, there is the million dollar question (or rather in this case the $25 question):

  • How comfortable are you paying $25.00 for a bowl of Noodles? :expressionless:

@Ns1 @paranoidgarliclover @Sgee @beefnoguy and all FTC’ers who care about QPR, that’s Menya Musashi’s issue right now: Is it overpriced or fairly priced that you’re paying $25.00 for their Tsukemen?

@beefnoguy and I were recently discussing this on the Ippudo SF thread, where you’re ending up paying about $20 for a bowl of Ramen. Now Musashi ups the ante with their offering. To be fair it’s a lot of food. I couldn’t finish this bowl (we split this meal between 3 of us), but it’s still $25 ($20 + tax & tip).

And while it’s a lot of food, their Kakuni (Braised Pork Belly) isn’t outstanding: It ranged from too firm & chewy, to some pieces being tender enough, but flavor-wise, honestly, it doesn’t compare to the best Izakaya Kakuni offerings. And Tsujita’s Chashu is way more tender and flavorful, as are offerings from Kitakata Ramen Bannai, or Mensho Tokyo’s amazing Chashu.

And their Tonkatsu (Deep Fried Pork Cutlet) are fine and a different / interesting addition to the Noodles that you might not expect usually, but they are nowhere near as good as great Tonkatsu at places like Kagura or Kimukatsu.

That’s not to say this is a “bad” bowl of Noodles at all - far from it - but the cost might be prohibitive for some, and the star of the Tsukemen is the less fatty, more oceanic (in a good way) Tonkotsu-Gyokai Broth that folks might like more than Tsujita’s version, but the other components are fine, but not outstanding.

You can dial back all of the additions and just get a bowl of Tsukemen with only Noodles and the Broth (and 1 piece of Pork Belly) for ~$17, which is more reasonable, but it’s still a bit on the pricey side.

However, ultimately, Menya Musashi delivers some other noteworthy items like their Housemade Japanese Curry Bowl (tasty!) :slight_smile:, and their regular Ramen (Soup Noodles) is a much more enjoyable bowl for us compared to Tsujita’s (not Tsujita Annex) regular Ramen. It’s a more flavorful, savory, but not too salty Pork Bone-focused Broth with just a tiny hint of Fish to elevate it. :slight_smile:

And as @ogawak mentioned, this place takes credit cards and has much less wait than Tsujita, so that’s another plus for now. While it might sound like I’m down on Musashi, we liked it well enough. If they can improve on their Kakuni Pork Belly cooking techniques (and not give in to the typical fall-off in quality where they batch make an entire week’s worth of Pork in 1 day and serve you reheated, old-tasting Pork in your Ramen), and refine the Tonkatsu Cutlet quality, this place would be worth a drive from anywhere in the city. Here’s hoping they continue to improve.

Menya Musashi Niten Ichiryu
2012 Sawtelle Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Tel: (310) 231-7188

http://menyamusashi-la.us/


#9

lol @ $25, hard pass.


#10

I hadn’t even bothered to look the prices. Thanks for the heads up about price! (you know us so well… :slight_smile: ).

If the tonkatsu isn’t that great, I’d actually be fine w/ $17 for the tsukemen + one hunk of (preferably tender!) pork belly. And the the katsu curry is right up my alley. :smiley: Maybe I’ll try the place when the weather cools down!


#11

Katsu Curry Don it is.

Sometimes the best thing on a menu is not the most obvious.


#12

Always great when you review a place. I will have to try the ramen next time. I think it’s great, tho, when another quality tsukemen shop opens up on Sawtelle. Maybe Tsujita will up its game.
I don’t understand the $25 bowl you mentioned. the most expensive bowl I saw on the menu was $19, still a lot. But Tsujita gets close to that when you add the extras that Menya already gives you.

Another touch was how you can add hot water to your dipping sauce, something I’ve only seen in Soba shops.

I loved their T Shirts; I told them. if they sold T shirts, I would buy one, especially if they have Toshiro Mifune’s image on it, since his film version of Miyamoto Musashi is the most famous.


#13

Uniqlo WAS selling exactly these ramen t-shirts a few months back (I wore my Menya Musashi t-shirt proudly on my visit)…


#14

Re price I totally get what you’re saying but what about taking the leftovers home, eating the fried parts there?


#15

Thanks for the tip; I will have to check them out


#16

Pork belly does not come cheaply.


#17

I think you’re missing that /s


#18

:nerd_face:


#19

Aging pork without curing? Pork zuke sounds interesting. I’d imagine it would taste much like kiviak, without having to get on an airplane.


#20

Yeah, I found it in Seattle last winter and then saw it in their Reno store the other day.