My husband and I have been noticing lines forming outside ramen houses lately. Last week while strolling along The Americana at Brand, we decided to see why people were so excited about the new dipping ramen at The Tsujita.
Since we are newbies to ramen, I asked our server to give us a Ramen 101 education. First I learned that there are four different types of ramen soup flavors: Miso, Shio, Shoya and Tonkotsu. Shio means “salty” in Japanese and this is the most traditional flavored ramen soup. Shoyu is a soy sauce based ramen soup, and Tonkotsu is a rich and slightly fatty soup broth made with pork and other ingredients. It simmers for several hours and is usually topped with sliced pork belly.
At The Tsujita, they offer a dipping ramen called Tsukemen. First created by restauranteur Kazuo Yamagishi in the 1960s at his restaurant in Tokyo, he took one bowl of cold soba noodles and dipped them into another bowl of rich Tonkotsu soup broth with his chopsticks. It became a hit in Japan. The Tsukemen concept arrived in Los Angeles by Takehiro Tsujita, a Tokyo native who opened his first noodle shop on Sawtelle Boulevard in West Los Angeles several years ago. Afterwards he opened a few more before The Tsujita Artisan Noodle at The Americana on Brand last year.
Across from Nordstrom, this ramen restaurant isn’t small and dark inside, it’s large and modern with an elegant white interior, long wooden communal tables with low back chairs, and gray booths that can easily sit 6 to 8 guests. A Japanese style doorway curtain with a large a black peace sign covers the entrance into the kitchen.
In the back, ramen chefs are slowly simmering tonkotsu soup for 60 hours while adding a seafood paste for sweetness and to thicken it up to look almost like a Thanksgiving gravy. The Tsukemen noodles are thicker for dipping.
After ordering, one bowl arrived with slices of barbecued pork and another was topped with a seasoned soft boiled egg. Our server urged us to squeeze fresh limes sections over the noodles to give them a citrus tang and cut the fatty broth.
Once diners have dipped the chewier ramen noodles into the Tsukemen, and the gravy broth is about 1/3 gone, the server will take your bowl to the kitchen and add a complimentary pour of soup wari, so you can just sip and enjoy the thinner soup.
On the table, ramen lovers can customize their bowls to their own taste preference with a variety of toppings. You’ll find little containers of pickled red ginger and spicy takana near bottles of soy sauce, ramen sauce and tsukemen to enhance the bowls. A shaker of sesame seeds adds earthy flavors.
We enjoyed the Negi Ramen that arrived in a large bowl filled with tiny green onion medallions and slices of pork. These ramen noodles were thinner and softer than the al dente tonkotsu ramen.
What goes well with ramen is Japanese craft beers and icy Asahi on tap. They also serve one hot and two cold sakes. Those seeking a non alcoholic beverage can indulge in drinking thick matcha iced or hot green tea. They also serve a variety of soda and Oolong tea.
You can also order small bowls of steamed white rice topped with roasted pork, salmon, or spicy tuna. Open for lunch and dinner starting at 11 a.m. Walk-ins are welcomed. $$ 769 Americana Way, Glendale (818)553-3822 and 2057 Sawtelle Blvd. (310)231-7373.
This article is featured in the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News on Dec. 7, 2017.