Per Eater. Pretty excited about this, as it will give us another additional option beyond the typical tonkotsu ramen. Haven’t tried their US shops, but really enjoyed a bowl when I tried it in its home country.
I hope it’s more along the lines of their Japan shops and less like the Portland ones. It’s a disturbing trend to see Japanese ramen brands come stateside to either: 1) change their menu for an American palate (e.g. Ramen Nagi in NorCal and soon Century City), or 2) pull the rug from under us after establishing themselves and either the quality goes down and/or production is centralized and pre-made. That being said, the more non-tonkotsu spots the better.
Advances in ramen broth concentrate technology (Wakuo USA, Yamachan, Somi, Kikkoman, etc) has enabled the mass proliferation of ramen chains throughout the USA and beyond without the need for a skilled chef in house. You just need cooks to make the sides and put it together.
I’ve purchased these restaurant grade concentrates (and you can too!) and have made ramen from them…they make a good decent bowl of ramen, just add water and NO ONE will know it was from a bag and not labored over for over 12-24 hrs. These companies specializes in customizing recipes for specific shops or if you’re just a neighborhood joint with generic ramen, just use their premade broth concentrates! This is one of the biggest and well kept food industry secrets out there that’s not really been reported about.
The fact that they seem to have an open kitchen and appears to be making broth in house gives hope this isn’t one of those “cheater ramen” establishments. I’m borrowing that term directly from Keizo Shimamoto who knows all about these shortcuts, and according to a private conversation with him, “we are being fooled left and right” because no ramen shop will admit to using these concentrates. Of course he will not be using them at his new socal establishment.
The chances are pretty good that unless you see your broth being made in front of you like at Tsujita, it could be coming from a bag. In that case, you’re just paying for a glorified instant ramen.
Agree (and Santouka is the model example of this), but a lot of places have gone this route with mixed results, Tsujita included (post-acquisition a couple of years ago). To your point, most people won’t know the difference
honestly it’s a losing battle…the concentrate makes a good enough ramen so no one will complain and ramen shop owners have no incentive to make it the traditional way anymore. Huge margins w/ the concentrate --a typical bowl uses 1-2 oz of concentrate to 10-15 oz of water. A typical concentrate bag can make like 30 bowls at roughly 50 cents per bowl. At over $15 for average ramen bowl, it’s a no brainer.
which is why if you do know of a place such as Keizo’s spot that truly making it in house, then to support it as much as you can. Also, pho joints definitely still make broths in house without any concentrates…Just sayin. Not that I have a long standing pet peeve on why Pho should be charged less than ramen.
Afuri is fantastic in Japan. I remember begging them to come to LA when they had plans for PDX. Unfortunately their US offering just doesn’t reach the same highs as the original. Hopeful for this new location, but tempering my expectations.
On concentrate broths, I’ve had some very good ones that are genuinely as good as eating in a decent ramen-ya. I don’t love the idea, but I would rather have a tasty “cheater” broth than a homemade one that’s ho-hum.
Honestly I can’t knock the actual product itself-it’s remarkable. Shelf stable until open, feeds tons of people, and def a lifesaver during the pandemic and yes, comparable to most ramen-ya.
What I am trying to point out is there’s very little public knowledge regarding its use—I’m not saying these ramen ya are being deceitful but it’s def don’t ask don’t tell in the ramen world.
I’d say a good number of ramenyas in LA/OC are in that camp. The rest of everyone’s favorites are likely made in-house, but centrally produced in a commissary kitchen (which makes sense though, if they have multiple locations).
I think Venice Ramen with it much lighter broth it still made in-house and is very legit to my palate.
Lowkey mind blown by this whole thread.
And I’m shocked some ramen places aren’t advertising ‘never from concentrate’ like an orange juice container.
I think this topic is a bit more complex than it seems because the bases are really a tare, so your shio tare or shoyu tare ect and you can use those as is or mod them in house.
You can also buy pre made broth separate most ramen places prefer to at least make their own broth, it’s cheaper and better and use the pre made only in case of a back up supply.
I personally don’t see anything wrong with using pre-made tare when really there are excellent products out there that are pretty customizable for the ramen shop. Just like there is nothing wrong with using Sun noodles. If you know what you are doing in matching the right noodle with your broth they have a lot of options.
The real problem is if a shop just uses a pre-made broth that’s laziness and lame.
Is there anything more meaningless than another “legendary ramen shop” with a "fanatic following” expanding their franchise to LA?
The proof in the pudding (er…Ramen) is in the eating (well slurping really).
But in general I would say to the chain ramen-ya’s coming -if you wouldn’t sell it in Japan don’t sell it in Los Angeles. There is too much good Ramen here for weak shit to cut through the noise.
This, % Also, thank you @hppzz for sharing the excellent article about Ramen Shack! I met Shimamoto in Williamsburg back in 2013 and remember him being such a great guy. It’s exciting to know he’s also made the move to SoCal.
Concentrates may taste alright but then why are you paying 2-3 times more than in Japan for ingredients that aren’t fresh, nourishing or slow cooked? They might be designed to trick your brain and your tongue, but you can tell the difference if you try and everyone’s body can tell, and pays a price for eating industrialized, over-processed food.
Then there’s the Eater article, the author gives about 4 shout-outs to Tsujita properties on Sawtelle, no mention of Rakkan which seems like the most similar to Afuri’s in terms of offerings, and goes out of their way to ignore tonkotsu ramen despite the fact that Afuri DOES serve it.
Lastly, They “don’t use MSG”? There’s a long tradition of using it as a seasoning in Japanese households and the “no-MSG” message came from an American, anti-Asian campaign in the 80s.