Name of restaurant: Slurpin' Ramen Bar.
Concept: Koreatown has a surprisingly underserved population of ramen eaters, so Slurpin' Ramen, which opened recently, might just be the answer to some hungry prayers. The vibe is more Silverlake Ramen than Daikokuya: young and cozy-hip — without a Japanese letter in sight. There are communal tables and a chalkboard; you get freebies for checking in on Facebook or Yelp. The menu is small and straightforward, and the ramen satisfies.
Which dish represents the restaurant, and why: Most customers probably end up getting some version of the Slurpin' Ramen — a bowl of thin ramen noodles in a milky tonkotsu pork broth. Your bowl comes with green onion, garlic, dried seaweed, black garlic oil and choice of meat, and you can customize size, spice level and additional toppings, which come on the side.
Here's a pretty ideal bowl, just as an example: regular sized (none of this mini-ramen business) and spicy, with fatty pork on top. For better or worse, this broth is on the lighter side of the tonkotsu spectrum. It's a nice broth, umami-rich and flavorful, and the spice cuts through the fat pretty effectively. If you're looking for more toppings, the loose, toothsome soft-boiled egg is worth an extra $1. It's so good, in fact, that it might even be worth getting two.
Runners-up: If you're not into drinking pork fat with your meal, the veggie ramen is a light alternative option, with a clean clear broth and a heap of vegetables on top. It can't beat the Slurpin' — but there's a definite appeal. At lunch, you can make any ramen a combo with choice of appetizer and salad for an extra $3, and these are pretty good. Slurpin' makes very decent tempura and gyoza, as well as the harder-to-find takoyaki, deep-fried balls of dough with hunks of octopus at the center.
Who's at the next table: A group of Korean American professional types on lunch break. One is wearing a suit to wolf down his ramen.
Appropriate for: Casual social outings; quelling the ramen blues in K-Town.
Problematic: The noodles could have a little more spring, but they're pretty solid.
Service: Cheerful, solicitous and fast. Slurpin' also knows how to please with freebies, and sometimes offers different free toppings on a rotating basis.
What you're drinking: Water goes well enough with pork fat, but there's beer and sake on the menu, with $3 Sapporo on draft.