TenTenYu (Sawtelle Japantown): A Pictorial Essay

Quickly replacing the space formerly occupied by pizza slinger Slicetruck (which has since relocated to the nearby corner of Bundy & Ohio), Kyoto ramen specialist TenTenYu hopes to fill a niche previously unseen in Sawtelle Japantown: Chicken-based ramen.

The chicken-based ramen broth is work and time-intensive. It supposedly takes 10 hours and 110 pounds of chicken to create 100 bowls of the broth served at TenTenYu.

The main draw is their signature Tori Paitan (chicken broth ramen). The TenTenyu broth is every bit as thick and rich in consistency as your typical pork broth, yet instead of pork, it is redolent of chicken. The optional chashu (pork) served is fairly average. There is actually a pork-based ramen here as well, but I was here for their standard-bearer.

A chicken-broth tsukemen also appears on the menu, and it is quite good, albeit a tad plain if one doesn’t order some extra garnishes along with it. The dipping soup here, again, is every bit as unctuous as what’s offered at Tsujita down the street, yet the taste was completely different. There is a layer of chili powder that comes with the tsukemen; the slight spiciness imparted more than makes up for the complexity lost by using chicken instead of pork in the broth.

There are two standouts side items at TenTenYu: (1) The perfectly executed ajitama (soft egg), and (2) their menma (marinated bamboo shoot). That menma is just wonderfully flavored, reminiscent of the forest, possessing perfect crunch versus “give” - probably the best menma of any ramen-ya in town. When I asked my server about it, he said it the menma is imported directly from Japan.

So if you are pork-averse, or simply looking for a change from the pork-dominated ramen scene without wanting to trade in porky richness in your broth, TenTenYu presents a very tasty option.

RECOMMENDED.

TenTenYu
2010 Sawtelle Bl.
Los Angeles, CA 90025

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How was the wait time?

I live very close by, and ambled down last weekend.

I walked by Friday night and saw the new-to-me place with awkward side placed entrance (zoning issue, amirite?), and long line of good looking young people and thought, “Oh, I’ll be seeing you later…”

So, Sunday late afternoon I swung by. The place was empty, over staffed as new restaurants tend to be, and blessedly air conditioned. They do not serve alcohol.

I got the tsukemen, no add ons, and drank water. The richness of the broth surprised me pleasantly–I have given up eating at Tsujita ramen or Annex. I find that broth to be too salty and rich. The TenTenYu was rich and indulgent, and stayed in the “able to be consumed” column for me.

I’ll return.

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I went at lunch. No wait.

But this is Sawtelle.

Went at Lunch today, no line at 11am but 1/2 full but a short line by 1130. Good chew on the noodles, The broth has a deep chicken flavor, Its not fatty but bordering on too rich in gelatine for me- at first I was wondering if it was thickened with cornstarch. The menma is really good and has a deep soy/almost candied flavor delicous. Had the spicy, which was spicy but didn’t really add much other flavor, skip this.

Overall very good, I’d put it just below Venice Ramen for me (prefer a lighter syle broth)

Thanks to @J_L for this early review, I had it bookmarked and was able to try it out last week.

Hailing from Kyoto, Tentenyu features a predominantly Chicken-based Ramen Broth, however they use Pork Bone as well (in case someone had dietary restrictions).

Teriyaki Tsukemen:

It seems their menu might’ve changed since JL’s visit, because their default Tsukemen is now called “Teriyaki Tsukemen” (Dipping Noodles). We were worried about the name, but thankfully the broth was not the overly sweet “American Teriyaki” flavor you might be thinking of.

It was thicker than their Ramen, filled with large chunks of Pork Chashu (that tasted old).

The Noodles are a thicker variety, custom-made from Sun Noodles for this establishment. It had a good texture, and was cooked just right.

However the Tsukemen Broth was lukewarm. I know the Noodles are supposed to be cool / chilled, and you dip it into the broth, but the lukewarm temperature of the broth made it not very appealing. The flavor was nice though, with a deep Chicken-y aroma and flavor in each sip.

However the oddest part of this was Cheddar Cheese! :frowning: :open_mouth: We were shocked, and asked our server, who said that it was popular here on Sawtelle and people liked it.

So eating Tsukemen with Cheddar Cheese was a bit of a shock.

Tori Paitan Ramen:

Their Tori Paitan Ramen on the other hand, thankfully had no Cheddar Cheese (phew!), and was piping hot. It was indeed as glorious as @J_L mentioned: Deep, thick, viscous. There’s a luscious fattiness, but instead of Pork Fat, it comes mainly from Chicken Fat, and it was really tasty! :slight_smile:

The Ramen Noodles were thinner and also cooked just right.

Sadly, the Pork Chashu was really bad. :frowning: It tasted like leftovers (old), and wasn’t even close to the greatness of places like Tsujita (down the street), or Kitakata Ramen Bannai and other standouts.

But their Ajitama Egg (Soft-Boiled) was pretty impressive:

Beautiful golden hue, soft, gooey, subtle flavors. It was excellent! :slight_smile:

And the Menma that JL mentioned was indeed pretty amazing! Far better than their Chashu (kinda sad). Thick, meaty cuts of Pickled Bamboo that were also fantastically infused with a Shoyu-Mirin base perhaps. Really standout.

I hope it was just an off-day, and not because of the “bait & switch” tactic plaguing too many Japanese Ramen shops from Japan opening in L.A.: For a famous Kyoto Ramen Shop opening in L.A., touting their Ramen and flavors that made them famous in Japan, you’d think they’d make sure their kitchen staff were properly trained, or send one of their original Ramen chefs to cook and oversee the project for a little while at least.

I hope it doesn’t go the way of Mottainai, Men Oh Tsukushima, Ramen California and other famous Japanese Ramen Shops that did a Grand Opening and had their expert staff leave to go back to Japan. In all of those cases, the “bait & switch” failed badly, and the Broth and taste degraded dramatically after the Chef-Owners left.

We’d be glad to come back for their Tori Paitan Ramen, but we’d skip the Tsukemen and the Chashu next time.

Tentenyu Ramen
2012 Sawtelle Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025

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How do you know its a bait a switch? How do you know the owners went back to Japan? I wouldn’t go around stirring up unfounded suspicions that would affect other board members perception of the business.

I can say this because I do know the owners of the shop, in fact I was one of the original opening chefs at Ramen Champ and the consulting manager is a good friend whom I worked with at said Ramen Champ.

As far as I know 2 of the head chefs who work for the company moved to the United States and they aren’t going back anytime soon as there are plans for the future which I won’t disclose.

As for the “non-Japanese” staff thing I think that’s a bias you need to ask yourself if its a fair basis for judging a Japanese eatery. If they are trained properly it doesn’t matter what ethnicity they are. Also Men Oh failed for reasons not obvious to the public but again I won’t disclose, so don’t assume anything when it comes to why restaurant quality starts declining. The factors are often many and often at the same time.

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Hi @JLee,

Please go back and read my post carefully. When did I say Tentenyu’s Chef-Owner went back to Japan? I said “I hope it doesn’t go the way of Mottainai, Men Oh Tsukushima, Ramen California…” where the taste degraded after their Chef-Owners left.

I will change the wording on “I felt like they already did the bait & switch” though, fair enough. I don’t know who the original Chef was, but there were issues with the food we had here that are unfortunate.

As for the “non-Japanese” thing, I worded it poorly: It’s not about that as much as the lack of properly trained staff. When famous Chef-Owner Shigetoshi Nakamura bailed on Ramen California (and yes he did leave, I spoke to him personally, and my other friends who lived down the street spoke to him also), Ramen California plummeted in quality and eventually closed.

When Mottainai’s Chef-Owner Tadanori Akasaka left, their quality of all 3 of their Ramen went downhill immediately. Their Kogashi Miso was a joke after he left. None of my friends wanted to go back after they noticed the flavors and Ramen suffered (and it closed down).

Men Oh: Sure if you know some behind the scenes stuff, more power to you. I ran into one of the chefs that was there during Men Oh’s opening and he mentioned to us that he left, and even before he mentioned this, the quality of the food there went downhill since their opening weeks. I stopped going when the food started suffering before I even knew any chefs left.

Given my first impression of Tentenyu, their Pork Chashu is really bad. Their Pork chunks in the Tsukemen is worse. Their Tsukemen with Cheddar Cheese is off-putting. Their Tsukemen Broth was nearly room-temperature and just didn’t taste that good (Teriyaki flavor with their Chicken Broth).

So, I wondered (aloud) if this is the way it was during opening, or if it was due to other factors?

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I didn’t care for their tsukumen. Terrible chunks of pork and the cheese in the broth. Thanks for enlightening me on that weird taste - I would have never guessed it was cheddar cheese… WTF?!

I would add Marugame Monzo, Yamadaya, Jinya, Hannosuke to the list of fallen angels post kitchen staffing changes.

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Good report!

I notice the chicken based broth is more common on my side of town (mid-cityish). To accommodate American palates maybe? I don’t think Tatsu had chicken based broth until they opened a location on Melrose. I like it though. I’m not exactly pork averse and love the pork broth. But I am trying to eat it less. Plus I’m just a chicken lover.

That’s a good heads up about using pork bone in chicken broth @Chowseeker1999. I guess I should ask places (especially traditional places) before ordering.

Yeah, I thought the cheese thing was odd, and have yet to order it. I’m not an expert. But is that a new thing?

Thanks

Although it’s not standard, you can get ramen with cheese at some places in Japan. It’s more of a novelty. Here’s one example:

It actually looks pretty good :relaxed:. I wonder if there’s a place that uses that creamier cheese. Because I don’t think cheddar is going to cut it :unamused:.

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I still miss Miyata Menji that was where the Tsujita Annex is now. Their Italian-ish Tsukemen with tomato and shaved parmesan was the bomb!

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Good memory, there… Short-lived but delicious, I agree.

Hi, Chowseeker1999 !!

Have i met you before? :yum:

starting From 2012 , I produced and helped over 20 Restaurant for 4 years in LA.

and I was not owner of Mottainai Ramen .
(I didn’t have the stock.)

But finaly i will open own Ramen restaurant with the chef who developed Silverlake Ramen and Ramen of York , in DTLA.

His name is Hiro , Nice and great chef .

He was working at Mottainai , and he was chef -manager of Jinya at Miracle Mile .

He developed menu of Silverlake Ramen and Ramen of York in Highland Park.

Before we open our my Ramen Restaurant, I and Hiro will invite you ! I guess there is real Ramen in my place for you .:yum:Thanks!!

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Hit Tentenyu with the family on New Year’s Day. We enjoyed it but I was a little confused about something. Are all of the ramen choices chicken-based broths? Or do you have to specifically order the Toripaitan?

I had assumed the former, but reading some of the comments here, it sounds like there’s also a pork-base broth?

IIRC they have both a pork based tonkotsu and veg based clear soup broth

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D’oh! I should’ve asked …

The vegetable ramen is excellent, your vegan friends would thank you for guiding them there. :slight_smile:

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