Here is a quick report on a quick meal on our Los Angeles trip in June. I’ve noted before that my mother-in-law’s move to Seal Beach a few years ago has meant a major adjustment to our Los Angeles life. We are no longer in the heart of Koreatown, no longer a short hop to Thai Town—and quite a bit further away from the San Gabriel Valley. There are, of course, compensations. These include proximity to the beautiful and numerous beaches of the South Bay; and from a food standpoint, we are now much closer to Artesia for Indian food and, above all, much closer to Torrance and Gardena for Japanese food. As a result, our Japanese food intake has risen sharply on recent trips. On our previous trip we enjoyed lunch at Jidaiya Ramen in Gardena; here now is an account of another ramen meal just a little further away on Western Ave. in Torrance.
Hakata Ikkousha Ramen is located in the same large strip mall as Nozomi. They have two other locations—in Little Tokyo and Costa Mesa—and I’m not sure which the original is and which the expansions. The Torrance location is a bit larger than Jidaiya Ramen but has much the same atmosphere. Ordering works a bit differently here, however. Whether due to the pandemic or as per normal operation, you scan a qr code if you want to look closely at a menu (or if you want to see how much things cost) and then mark your order on a sheet. Each seat at each table has a number associated with it and you fill out one sheet per person, marking that number on it. If eating ramen you circle the one you want and mark any customizations you want on the noodles etc. You can also select appetizers and side dishes here. The food then comes out pretty quickly.
What did we get? One large order (3 pcs) of the karaage (fried chicken), one small order (5 pcs) of the gyoza, and four bowls of ramen. The boys got a bowl each of their Tonkotsu; I tried their Black Tonkotsu made with garlic; and the missus got a bowl of the spicy God Fire. We liked it all though I have to admit that apart from its striking appearance there was little that distinguished the black tonkotsu from the regular. The spicy God Fire was probably the pick of the lot. We got the noodles at varying degrees of firmness and quite appreciated being able to customize that. The star of the meal, however, was not any of the ramen but the karaage. The batter on the fried chicken was at a perfect shattering crisp and the chicken itself moist and tender. I would be happy to go back there just to eat that again.
For a look at the restaurant and the food, launch the slideshow below. Scroll down to see how much it cost and to see what’s coming next.
With tax and tip the total came to just over $103. That is probably high for this meal in the abstract—our total at Jidaiya in December came to $70’ish for two appetizers and four bowls of ramen. Now it’s true we liked the food here better but not that much better. It was certainly a lot better than any ramen we’ve had in the midwest (Doug Flicker’s ramen at Bull’s Horn the shining exception). It was not as good as Ippudo in New York, however, and even that meal in 2019 was quite a bit cheaper than this (granted we only had three bowls of ramen there). So, on the whole, I suppose I’d say that the karaage is the real draw here.
Alright, I’m now halfway through the Los Angeles reports: another sushi meal, another dim sum meal, a Korean meal and an Indian meal are what remain. And I’m almost done with my Big Island reports—the last of those will be posted tomorrow.