Sorting the noodle and broth chaos of Sawtelle Blvd.
By Kerry Slater
While a heaping bowl of ramen sounds mouth-watering all year round, the winter months make it an especially desirable meal. In many parts of the country, the only way to satisfy this craving is with a pack of Maruchan instant noodles, but luckily on the Westside, a ramen-heaven exists. The holy place in question is, of course, Sawtelle Boulevard, where in some areas three ramen houses stand within a 100-foot radius of each other. To help sort through all the noodles and broth, here are four stand-out ramen houses on Sawtelle, ranked in no particular order.
Tsujita LA Artisan Noodles
2057 Sawtelle Blvd
Remember when I just wrote that these entries were ranked in no particular order? Well, that was a lie. Tsujita LA Artisan Noodles, located on the corner of Sawtelle Boulevard and Missippi Avenue is considered by many to be the holy grail of ramen shops, not only on Sawtelle, not only in Los Angeles but throughout the entire United States.
Their specialty is Tsukemen ramen, with tonkatsu (pork) broth on the side of thick, perfectly al-dente noodles. Words can not do justice describing the experience of slurping down a bowl of ramen at Tsujitsa. Instead, head on over to Sawtelle and wait in line for ramen that may or may not change your life.
2123 Sawtelle Blvd
Tatsu may not quite be on the same level as Tsujitsa, but they still serve a mighty fine bowl of ramen. Located a hop, skip and a jump from Tsujitsa, diners are greeted at Tatsu not by a hostess but rather by a row of iPads where patrons place their orders. There are a variety of ramen options to choose from, all excellent, but the “bold” and “soul” ramens are particular standouts. The bold ramen is heavy on the garlic, heavy on the spice and will leave even the most ambitious eater feeling full. The soul ramen, while by no means light, is a bit more subtle than the bold ramen, and living up to its namesake, really does warm the soul.
1601 Sawtelle Blvd #101
Located north of Santa Monica Boulevard, away from the hustle and bustle of central Sawtelle, Shin-Sen-Gumi may not be on many diners’ radar. Despite being removed from the chaos, Shinsengumi delivers Hakata ramen that stands up to any place on the block. Patrons choose from a variety of sides to put in their ramen, from staples like garlic and mushrooms to lesser-seen options like flavored-egg and spicy miso paste flavor bombs. Despite the level of customization offered, the broth and noodles at Shin-sen-gumi speak for themselves, a mark of any top-notch ramen house.
2030 Sawtelle Blvd
A bowl of ramen at Killer Noodle not only looks much different than a typical bowl of ramen, but it also tastes a whole lot different as well.
The signature dish at Killer Noodle is their Tokyo style ramen. Made with a peanut-based broth, diners are asked to choose on a scale of 1-7 both how spicy and how numbing they want their ramen to be. Killer Noodle uses sansho peppers in their broth. Packed with citrus flavor and a tongue- numbing agent, these peppers make eating a bowl of ramen at Killer Noodle not only a meal but a full-body experience.