So far the culinary trends in 2016 have been ramen restaurants popping up all over Los Angeles. What if you don’t like ramen? Well, then there is poke. In some neighborhoods there are poke cafes every half mile. Elevated gourmet burger joints continue to be popular this year too.
The SBE Hospitality group discovered that not everyone likes just ramen or poke, so they created a new concept restaurant – K Ramen that offers a variety of ramen and poke dishes on the menu, plus a really good burger.
Known for their successful signature Japanese Katsuya restaurants, K Ramen makes dining easier for Los Angelenos at the Americana on Brand. Above the pretty sushi and Asian fusion restaurant is a more casual dining experience with one of the best views in the Rick Caruso complex.
This space used to be an evening club, however residents weren’t too happy with the late night noise and crowd. They protested and insisted that the space only stay open until 10 p.m. This put a damper on the club scene and the upstairs venue sat empty for a while.
With its outdoor, covered terrace overlooking the dancing, musical water fountain, the executives at SBE and Katsuya developed a menu featuring salads, ramen, burgers, beers and poke for guests to enjoy before or after a movie or shopping. It’s also a great spot to meet family and friends for a meal.
The sit-down service is efficient, because Katsuya has two kitchens, one on each level. The atmosphere is dark with a Japanese beer garden vibe, that reminded us of the beer gardens we enjoyed in Kyoto, Japan. There are strings of festive light bulbs curving down from the ceiling, above booths and shiny wood picnic tables with benches.
Along the long bar, the staff serves a variety of Japanese beers that include a Kirin frozen beer with a tall, icy head. Other Japanese beers include Sapporo, Asahi, Orion, Wasabi Ale, Hitachino Nest white ale or espresso stout. They even have a Coedo – Beniaka sweet potato amber. Not into Japanese beers? They have a Tahiti Hinano and Asian style lager Lucky Buddha that arrives in an artistic green, glass buddha shaped bottle.
They also offer Wente, Hogwash and Mark West wine on tap or Sweetzer Cellars by the bottle. Sakes come by the glass or poured from the 16 oz. carafe.
Here’s what I like about K Ramen, you don’t need to make reservations, just walk-in and sit where you want, at any empty table. They kept their club-like music playlist that adds to the atmosphere.
We started with calamari with a wasabi cocktail dipping sauce. This isn’t your traditional calamari, it’s big and thick pieces of calamari steak with less dough than most. It crispy and delicious.
The K Burger is one of the juiciest burgers I’ve tasted in quite some time. It’s half a pound of two grilled meat patties with caramelized onions, sliced tomatoes, American cheese and a spicy cream sauce. Add sliced avocado and strips of bacon for the ultimate sandwich. It’s not too heavy, yet purely satisfying. The burger comes with thin and crisp fries or tater tots that have a drizzle of duck fat that are served in a Japanese-style wicker bowl.
There are four different poke plates that are different in flavor profiles. We tried the red snapper with kale doused with a citrus yuzu ginger sauce on top of a large aonori sesame rice. Aonori is a type of edible green seaweed that is rich in calcium, vitamins, magnesium, and amino acids. Black sesame seeds are sprinkled on top with thinly sliced serrano peppers offering a fresh earthiness to the dish.
Those seeking Hawaiian flavors will appreciate the albacore poke in a ponzu ginger sauce with mango cubes and chopped macadamia nuts. Those seeking creamy spicy tuna poke will find it on the menu.
At K Ramen they offer a lobster ramen with big chunks of the shellfish in a red, savory broth, that is not too salty, and not too bland. It’s enhanced with golden chives, green onions, bean sprouts and a marinated egg. There is also a black miso ramen with miso chicken.
We enjoyed the Shoyu ramen with a thicker broth made from boiling pork bones to extract tons of pleasing umami flavor. Pork belly cooked for over 12 hours is topped on thin, straight noodles.
Another ramen worth noting is the traditional Tokyo-style Shoyu ramen with chashu chicken. The clear, brown chicken based broth is enhanced with soy sauce to provide a tangy, salty, and savory balance of flavors that is fairly light on the palate. The broth is poured over curly noodles and adorned with a marinated egg.
Kids will like the Martinelli’s apple juice and Yoohoo beverages featured on the menu, and the Coolhaus ice cream pints for dessert. They offer salted caramel, chocolate molten cake or bananas foster flavors.
During the summer, guests can sit outside on the green grass and order this fare to go for an evening picnic under the twinkling lit trees.
During the dineLA Restaurant Week starting July 18 through July 31, K Ramen is offering a special dineLA lunch and dinner menu. The two-course lunch comes with tots and a fountain drink for $15. Choose from a first course selection of either spicy edamame, wings, or calamari. For the second course diners can choose either one ramen or poke dish.
K Ramen offers the newest food trends in a fun environment that everyone in your group will enjoy.
$-$$ 702 Americana Way, Glendale (818)244-5900.
This article was featured in the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea Newspaper and available on the mobile app GPSmyCity.