727 N. Broadway, Ste 203
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Sat, 02/07/2015, 8:00pm walk-in
I reminisce about the days during my childhood when my parents would bring me to Far East Plaza in Chinatown to buy Chinese herbs and noodles. As I recollect the smell of dried herbs and Chinese medicine, my olfactory senses are uplifted. I'm reminded of walking through aisles of Chinese snacks that would be foreign to others and I just smile. These days, I now have a plethora of Asian cuisine to choose from at the plaza. Ramen Champ is just one of the many.
From the owners of Eggslut comes a ramen shop made with love. The champs Alvin Cailin, Nathan Asamoto and Johnny Lee have managed to bring ramen to Chinatown in a plaza that now houses Chego and Pok Pok Phat Thai. The shop is small and quaint. Each bar stool includes a purse hook, which I appreciate. The best part of Ramen Champ is the ordering system: wait in line, a hostess takes your order, you wait for your name to be called (in our case, 30 minutes), you are escorted to your seat and the food comes out to you within minutes.
Chef Nathan Asamoto hard at work:
Chashu Rice Bowl ($4.50): Slow roasted pork belly and seasoned rice, garnished with scallion ribbons and toasted sesame. Although the pork belly had an excellent fat to pork ratio, it was slightly sinewy. The seasoned rice stole the dish. A tad bit sweet and a tad bit salty that melded well together, the seasoned rice parallels to the beautifully sticky and fairly tangy sushi rice.
Seasonal Mushrooms ($5.00): Battered and deep fried hon shimeji mushrooms, served with roasted garlic shoyu aioli and garnished with crispy shiso leaves. This was probably my least favorite dish. The mushrooms were good, but I felt the batter absorbed the oil, making the mushrooms taste a smidge on the greasier end. The garlic shoyu aioli had nice flavors and coated the mushrooms well.
Tako Tots ($5.50): My favorite dish. Crispy potato fritters with octopus and salted cod, topped with house takoyari sauce and spicy mayo. Garnished with chives, katsobushi and aonori-ko. This crispy, yet creamy dish are delicate pillows in your mouth. The texture is great and the flavors are prominent in each bite. An overall great dish!
Tonkotsu Ramen ($12.99): A rich, creamy and complex soup, served with noodles, topped with slices of slow cooked chashu, seasoned egg, scallion ribbons and garnished with crisp radish, toasted sesame seeds and black garlic oil. This dish was probably the most beautifully presented ramen bowl I've ever had. Although I felt the pork flavor of the broth needed to be more prominent, it was rich and creamy just the way I like my tonkotsu ramen bowls. The noodles were fresh and cooked al dente. The seasoned egg was on the saltier end of the spectrum, but it was perfectly runny. The crisp radish gave the ramen a nice touch and color. Comprehensively, the tonkotsu is worth a try.
The condiments: Sherry Vinegar, Sriracha oil, Garlic Oil. All are great accompaniments to the ramen and appetizers. Try one or try them all!
Overall, Ramen Champ is considerably tasty for a restaurant that has recently opened its doors to the public. The eatery is well thought out and maximizes its small space to accommodate as many hungry ramen champs as possible. A simple menu for simple champs. Ramen Champ is worth a consideration for the sheer beauty of their ramen. On a side note, their service is attentive and impeccable.
Notable dishes: Tako Tots