A New Ramen Wave Hits Southern California (Legit Ramen Hits the Heart of Melrose): E.A.K. Ramen, Oh Man! Ramen, and Ramen Room [Review]

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I almost forgot to mention E.A.K. Ramen has a Beer & Wine license, so they have a few notable Japanese Beers on the menu:

  • Orion
  • Kawaba Sunrise
  • Koshihikari Echigo - We love this one! :slight_smile:
  • Sapporo - On Tap
  • Kirin - On Tap

And a few Shochu and Sake selections.

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Very nice writeup! I’m quite anxious to try eak.

For some reason, none of those new age non Japanese ramen shops appeal to me yet…

Thanks @blimpbinge. :slight_smile: Please report back on how your visit to E.A.K. goes. (And I agree with you on the new / fusion style Ramen shops.)

Thanks for the heads-up about E.A.K., @Chowseeker1999! The kinpira gobo, onigiri, and takoyaki look great. I’m intrigued by their potato salad. I’m a huge fan of Japanese potato salad, especially in sandwiches, but haven’t had it with mentaiko. Sounds like a great twist!

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Hi @MaladyNelson,

Yah I can’t wait till you try it. There were a few other items you might be interested at E.A.K. They have an Ebi Katsu Bao(!), which sounds potentially amazing to have Shrimp Cutlet.

Their Superfood Salad (Seaweed, Hijiki, Cucumber & Shoyu-based Dressing) looked delicious when we saw someone else ordering it.

They also had a Salmon Onigiri and Caramelized Sweet Potatoes. :slight_smile:

I’ll try and order some of these next time if you don’t get to them first, LOL.

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Ha, you know me too well, @Chowseeker1999!

I live very close to Ramen House, and stopped in last week. I ordered their Tonkatsu ramen. I found the broth to be utterly tasteless, the pork dissolved on my chopsticks, and I had the same complaint about the noodles you did. Since I am not a ramen person, I decided to check this out. On the way back to my house from LAX I stopped at the Mitsawa market, went to Santuka (?) and had their Tonkatsu ramen. What a difference!!! Adios, Ramen House. Luckily I am close enough to Jinya, and that’s where I’m going when I have a ramen craze

Update 1:

Just 4 months later, and the 2 iffy Ramen spots have already closed(!): Oh! Man Ramen and Ramen Room have shuttered, leaving just 1 newcomer left from my earlier post, E.A.K. Ramen. It was a sunny afternoon and we decided to stop by to see how things have been. :slight_smile:

E.A.K. Ramen (Revisit)

As we walked in, I was full of trepidation and ready to be disappointed. @Sgee @Ns1 @bulavinaka and others can probably remember all too well the “bait and switch” of Ramen shops hitting L.A.: The famous founding Chef is there for the Grand Opening, and then after a short time… leaves, leaving behind poorly trained staff and a shell of the former menu (e.g., Ramen California, Mottainai, etc.).

Taking a peak in the kitchen, and I noticed Chef Keisuke Ando’s protoge (from our initial visit) still there! But how had the menu progressed?

Kinpira (Burdock and Lotus Root Sliced and Lightly Mixed with Chili and Sesame Oil):

Their Kinpira on our first visit was fantastic, so I couldn’t wait to try it again. When it arrived, it looked different: Darker, more saturated with sauce. And after trying a few pieces, the recipe seems to have changed (perhaps to cater to local crowd a bit more?): It’s more heavily sauced, a touch salty, but otherwise, still crisp and with a nice hint of Sesame Oil and Chili OIl.

Takoyaki (Savory Round Octopus Pancake with a Sweet and Spicy Sauce):

We asked for the Mayo on the side this time. Taking a bite, YES! :smile: Crisped(!) exterior, fluffy, soft interior with tender morsels of Octopus! E.A.K.'s Octopus Balls are easily the best we’ve had in So Cal. :blush: (To be fair, there’s not much competition as every other Takoyaki we’ve tried have always been a soft, gloopy mess. :frowning:) But they are wonderful here still, so that’s a relief. :slight_smile:

The E.A.K. Ramen (Pork and Chicken Broth, Pork Chashu, Seasoned Egg, Spinach, Nori):

In what seems like the impossible (given the trends of most of the Ramen shops we have locally), E.A.K.'s specialty “The E.A.K.” / Iekei-style Ramen is even better than before! :open_mouth: “iekei-style” has been a balance of the heavier Tonkotsu (Pork Bone) Broth-style of Ramen and Tokyo’s lighter Shoyu (Soy Sauce)-style Ramen, and the version we tried today was fantastic! :slight_smile:

There was some rich porkiness, but nowhere near as heavy or insane as Tsujita, Ikkousha, etc. And it was lighter, making it really enjoyable to sip. It just tasted like the Chef finally hit his stride in the new kitchen on Melrose (transplanted from Japan). It tastes homemade, long-stewed, and just wonderful! :blush:

The Noodles were cooked to a perfect mouthfeel, toothsome, nice chew and still tender.

Their Chashu didn’t look like much, but it was tender, succulent and fresh-tasting (roasted that day). :slight_smile: They have thankfully not resorted to the lazy trend of cooking the entire week’s worth of Chashu and refrigerating it / slicing it throughout the week like many local places nowadays.

Oh So Hot! Ramen (Pork and Chicken Broth, Pork Chashu, Seasoned Egg, Nori, Bean Sprouts, Cabbage, Sesame Oil, Spicy Miso with Ground Chicken):

Our favorite Ramen from our initial visits, it was pretty much the same as last time, meaning it was excellent! :smile: A combination Pork and Chicken Broth, this is Chef Ando’s version of Tantanmen. We ordered Level 2 “Spicy” again, and it was just fine, just a nice little bit of heat, but nothing overwhelming.

Just like in the other bowl, the Noodles and Chashu were spot-on and delicious. :slight_smile: Their Tamago (Egg) was a touch overcooked today, which is unfortunate, but still somewhat soft inside.

I still can’t believe we have legit Iekei-style Ramen in the heart of Melrose’s fashion district, and currently, it’s delivering some of the tastiest Ramen Broth for those looking for a “medium”-style Broth that’s not as heavy as Tsujita or Ikkousha, but not as light as Kitakata or a typical Shio / Shoyu Ramen Broth.

And they serve great Takoyaki to boot! :slight_smile:

E.A.K. Ramen
7455 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046
Tel: (323) 866-1866

http://eakramen.com/

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Fuck I must go here.

Nice!

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Melrose

Zebra - Shio based, Pork & Chix Broth, Chashu Pork :kissing_closed_eyes:, Seasoned Egg, Spinach, Nori, Butter! Roasted Umami Garlic, Deliciousness :heart_eyes:
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Unctuousness

Oh So Hot - Miso based, Spicy, Pork & Chix Broth, Chashu Pork :kissing_closed_eyes:, Ground Chix, Egg, Spinach, Little Bit of Sprouts & Cabbage, Nori, Deliciousness
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The miso or the chili paste or both make it slightly more herbal and aromatic than the Zebra. :yum:

image

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A little sweet brightness to cut the savory. Oh & $5.00 Draft Beer.

Karaage Chicken
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Lightly coated thigh meat, fried, tender, juicy… but absolutely no reason for the side of soy sauce, and use only a dab of sweet chili sauce, because this dish is way salty!


If you are off of pork or not a vegetarian (3 veggie ramens) this is not for you. They are not catering to the tastes of locals by having a singularly chix based broth ramen. But they don’t have to. It’s fantastic. A little on the salty side (hard to avoid as a long cooked broth reduces).

Oh and the noodles are terrific!

Promise to try the Shoyu Ramen and the Takoyaki next time.

Love having this place local. We are short on Ramen supply in this ‘hood.

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Hi @TheCookie,

Nice! Glad you made it out to EAK and liked it. :slight_smile: It’s surprising to get iekei-style Ramen on Melrose of all places, right? :slight_smile:

I can’t believe you finished all of the broth! LOL. :grin: (I never knew there was a smiley face on the bottom of the bowl - cute! Definitely don’t feel obligated to finish all of the broth if it’s one of the more potent ones.

Yah, give the Takoyaki a try next time (make sure you ask for the mayo on the side, so you can make sure it stays nicely crisped). :slight_smile:

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Hi @Chowseeker1999 -

:grin: That was hubby with the happy bowl. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see what was on the bottom of my bowl. But I made a good effort. It was delicious.

Will do. Thanks!

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Isn’t it great when fellow FTCers lead you to a great place in your own hood?!

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Update 2:

This update has taken a lot longer than I anticipated. It spans multiple visits across 1 year(!), but you’ll soon see why.

4th visit (1 year ago):

EAK_001

We had some errands to run in the area and decided to stop in to see how E.A.K. Ramen has been doing, and craving some of Chef Keisuke Ando’s delicious Iekei-style Ramen, which is a rarity here in Southern California.

Oh So Hot! Ramen (Pork and Chicken Broth, Pork Chashu, Seasoned Egg, Nori, Bean Sprouts, Cabbage, Sesame Oil, Spicy Miso with Ground Chicken):

EAK_002

EAK_002b

This was my favorite Ramen from E.A.K. during the initial visits, basically Chef Ando’s take on Tantanmen. It tasted as fragrant, nutty and enticingly spicy as before. The Miso-marinated Ground Chicken added a nice textural meatiness that’s usually not in many Ramen locally.

EAK_003

The Pork Chashu tasted fresh, and had that buttery, melt-in-your-mouth quality (you can see the striations of lean and fat). Delicious. :slight_smile:

EAK_004

The Noodles were of the thicker variety and cooked just below katamen (firm) level, which was fine.

EAK_010

I loved that they served our Ramen with Garlic and Onions to season as you wished.

The E.A.K. Ramen (Pork and Chicken Broth, Pork Chashu, Seasoned Egg, Spinach, Nori):

EAK_005

EAK_007

The E.A.K. signature Ramen (essentially their classic Iekei-style Ramen) was just as good as we remembered it. That balance of Pork Bone goodness, without being overly heavy, nor as fatty as the hardcore Tonkotsu Ramen around town.

The Chashu was perfect and fresh tasting again. :blush:

EAK_008

EAK_009

Their Aji Tama (Soft-Boiled Seasoned Egg) was perfect. Just look at that oozing gloriousness. :slight_smile:

Everything seemed great…

5th Visit:

So a few months later, we were in the area again and stopped by.

Kimpira (Burdock, Lotus and Konjac Roots Sliced and Lightly Mixed with Chili and Sesame Oil):

EAK_012b

This was still pretty tasty, but it was served hot! (It tasted unevenly hot, so we’re thinking this was microwaved.) :expressionless: Kimpira Gobo usually is a nice chilled / cool appetizer, not really served piping hot. (We’re guessing this might be done this way to appease the local Melrose crowd?) :frowning:

The E.A.K. Ramen (Pork and Chicken Broth, Pork Chashu, Seasoned Egg, Spinach, Nori):

EAK_013

EAK_015

Taking a sip, the Broth was just off. It tasted one-note and overly salty, nothing like our first 4 visits. :frowning:

EAK_014

The Pork Chashu was dried out, old-tasting and salty. :sob:

EAK_016

The Aji Tamago (Seasoned Soft-Boiled Egg) was overcooked (see pic). :frowning:

Takoyaki (Savory Round Octopus Pancake with a Sweet and Spicy Sauce):

EAK_018

EAK_019

Thankfully, their Takoyaki were still as fantastic as before: Crisped outer shell, fluffy, soft interior with nice meaty bits of Octopus. :slight_smile:

Oh So Hot! Ramen (Pork and Chicken Broth, Pork Chashu, Seasoned Egg, Nori, Bean Sprouts, Cabbage, Spicy Miso with Ground Chicken):

EAK_020

EAK_022

This tasted off as well: It was nowhere as nuanced and fragrant. In fact, we noticed that the menu’s description had changed, and Sesame Oil was removed. It was overly salty and just one note and spicy.

EAK_021

The Chashu was just as bad as the E.A.K. bowl we had (see above pic). :sob: Totally dried out, dense, and old-tasting (like it was pre-made days in advance).

EAK_023

Egg was overcooked in this bowl as well. :frowning:

At this point, we knew what this must be, but we were so bummed about this (because E.A.K. started so strong), that we were hoping maybe it was a fluke, so we waited.

About 2 months later, I decided to call the restaurant to speak with their manager to give some honest feedback about how bad the Ramen was on our last visit and just see if Chef Ando was still around.

“Surprise!” (not really): It turns out the manager and Ando-san were in New York, busy trying to open up E.A.K. branches there. :expressionless: :frowning: I left him our thoughts on how bad the Ramen was, how bad the Chashu and Egg were and left it at that. (He offered no apology.)

6th Visit:

EAK_025

A few months after that visit and the feedback we left, we wanted to give them one more shot to see if things could improve. The manager happened to be there that day and we politely asked how the Ramen operation was doing nowadays and hinted at our last (terrible) visit.

He then thanked us for the feedback and said he totally agreed: He had just got back in from New York and tried the Chashu and Ramen from his new staff and said it was totally off and had the staff go and train and relearn the recipes. Would it improve?

Takoyaki (Savory Round Pancake with Octopus):

EAK_028

EAK_028b

Their Takoyaki were still crisped, piping hot, and awesome! They are by far the best Takoyaki we’ve had in Southern California (so it seemed the staff was able to get one thing right and consistent).

Zebra Ramen (Pork and Chicken Broth, Pork Chashu, Seasoned Egg, Spinach, Nori, Butter, Roasted Umami Garlic Oil):

EAK_030

EAK_033

The Broth was more nuanced (not just one-note salty like the last visit), and the Black Garlic Oil added a nice pungent, slightly bitter (but aromatic) layer. Solid.

EAK_031

The Pork Chashu was definitely much better than last time, you can see the striations of fat and lean meat again, and it tasted fresh. Pretty tender, but not as great as our initial visits when Chef Ando was guiding the cooking.

EAK_032

The Aji Tamago was still slightly overcooked but better than before.

So at this point it seemed the kitchen staff / replacements had improved from the disastrous last visit, but not to the level of Ando-san’s cooking.

7th Visit:

EAK_034

Finally, just recently, we decided to stop by one more time to E.A.K. to see if things have stabilized and improved or not.

Iced Green Tea:

EAK_034b

Refreshing.

The E.A.K. Ramen (Pork and Chicken Broth, Pork Chashu, Seasoned Egg, Spinach, Nori):

EAK_035

EAK_038

The first sip revealed a primarily average porky, salty Broth. :frowning: It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t the nuanced deeply satisfying balanced combination of Ando-san’s Tonkotsu (Pork Bone) Broth with Tokyo-style Shoyu (Soy Sauce) Broth to make his Iekei flavor. It was a bit pedestrian. :cry:

EAK_036

The Pork Chashu was excellent! Just look at the picture (above) and see how fresh and glistening it looked. A perfect combination of fatty and lean Pork meat, that was really melt-in-your-mouth good! :blush:

EAK_037

The Aji Tamago was still overcooked (slightly) and decent, but nowhere near as good as the early visits. :frowning:

Chatting with the staff, we confirmed that Ando-san is not in the kitchen and hasn’t been for a while.

At this point, E.A.K. Ramen feels like an inferior version of its Grand Opening days. The Noodles are cooked decently, the Pork Chashu was terrible, but the last 2 visits it’s back to excellent, fresh and fantastic, but the Aji Tamago (Egg) has been overcooked for a while now and it hasn’t improved over the past year. The Broth for all 3 signature types of Ramen (E.A.K. (Iekei Shoyu), Zebra (Shio) and Oh So Hot (Miso)) is the biggest tragedy, losing the nuanced greatness that made this restaurant a standout early on.

While the Ramen overall has improved from its lowest point (total disaster), it is a shadow of its former self. Oh hey, look @Ns1 @Sgee @PorkyBelly @A5KOBE @bulavinaka! What’s this? Bait & switch again! Another Japanese Ramen-ya that has opened up, bringing its star chef / staff, only to disappear and leave an inferior product behind a few months later. :sob:

If you’re ever in the mood for some refreshing Iced Green Tea and great Takoyaki, E.A.K. Ramen is still worth a visit. But we’ll be going to other places for Ramen.

E.A.K. Ramen
7455 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046
Tel: (323) 866-1866

https://eakramen.com/

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What a bust.

If you ever see the Tokyo’s Doggie Style trick, the tokayaki there is excellent (but very messy and “animal style”)

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I really like how you gave the place multiple chances to see if it had improved. I’m glad the final few visits weren’t as horrid, but it’s still sad to see a place go downhill like that. Overcooked egg and pork chashu is (relatively) tragic. :frowning:

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@chowseeker1999 I recollect your prior glowing reviews and tried their branch in NYC during winter, regrettably my meal tasted more like your recent excursions. Yup another bait and switch. :roll_eyes:

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Slightly unusual, but does anyone know where to get seafood ramen?