This new chicken ramen may cure L.A.'s tonkotsu obsession
Name: Tentenyu, a “new” ramen shop on Sawtelle Boulevard that moved into the space vacated by Slicetruck Pizza. “New” because Tentenyu is actually fairly old, in Japan at least, having opened its first ramen shop in 1971. This first foray into the United States is headed by Takuji Hamano, who came up the ranks at the original Tentenyu in Kyoto, Japan. Nathan Asamoto, formerly of Men Oh Tokushima and Ramen Champ, is on the management team, helping the Japanese brand navigate the intricacies of opening a restaurant (or two) in L.A.
Concept: Tori Paitan, Kyoto-style ramen with a chicken-based broth made from pressure cooking poultry — 110 pounds for 100 bowls of ramen, per Tentenyu’s website — until all the collagen is released into the stock. The result is just as rich and flavorful a broth as the pork-based tonkotsu at Tsujita down the street, but with a clean, schmaltzy taste and a smoother, less unctuous mouth-feel.
What you’re eating: To taste how different it is from the other hot ramen shops around town, try the Tori Paitan ramen, with straight medium-thick noodles in a sippable broth, on your first visit. The scene-stealer, though, is the teriyaki tsukemen. Served with thick wavy noodles, the base starts with the same chicken stock, but since it’s for dipping, the broth is fortified with Tentenyu’s house teriyaki sauce.
So it’s chicken, but also pork: Unfortunately, for those with religious, dietary or personal restrictions on eating pork, this is not the ramen you’re looking for. While the main ingredient in the base is chicken — and lots of it — a bit of pork is added to the stock to introduce a little more complexity in the flavor profile, according to the restaurant.
Other add-ons: While both of the main options include a bit of chashu, if you crave meat, order the chashu ramen or chashu tsukemen, which is served with half a dozen slices of the tender roast pork. Those who like it hot can opt to add a spice mixture of ghost peppers, habanero, bell peppers and jalapeño that adds a well-balanced heat without overpowering the broth. Augment with ajitama, a seasoned soft-boiled egg, or menma, thick strips of marinated bamboo shoots.
No nap time needed: Surprisingly, even after finishing a bowl of the hearty tsukemen for lunch, you won’t find yourself useless back at the office with a food coma. You may even be hungry for more at dinner time.
What’s next: Wasting no time, Tentenyu already has a second location staked out in downtown Culver City at the former Which Wich storefront on Main Street, which should open by the end of the year. That location will have a liquor license and offer an expanded menu, with options such as karaage (Japanese fried chicken) and takoyaki (octopus fritters). The company is already in talks to open a third location in Seattle in 2017.
Info: 2012 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles, www.tentenyu-us.com.
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