I don’t think I’ve ever had ramen. Well not the popular type of ramen that draws lines around a restaurant. The type of ramen I’ve had was a hard block of noodles that came in a small plastic bag. Don’t know which one I’m talking about? Well here’s a hint, its preceded by the word ‘Top’. That’s right, Top Ramen. I think it’s safe to say that Top Ramen isn’t real ramen, but it’s the only kind I’ve had. When my chef friend Armen asked if I ever had ramen, I kind of lied.
Me: “Yeah I’ve had ramen!”
Armen: “Great, I manage a ramen restaurant. You should come check it out.”
Me: Ah, dammit!
I didn’t want to go deeper into a lie so I told him the truth. It sucked because, telling someone who makes ramen that you’ve only had Top Ramen is like telling someone who prepares chartuterie boards that you’ve had Lunchables. Kill yourself. He gave me a face of disappointment and then invited me to his restaurant, Tatsu Ramen on Melrose. I accepted.
Walking into the restaurant, you can see that Tatsu is a bit more on the progressive side as there is a set of iPads extended from the wall. They aren’t used as decoration, instead, it’s their ordering system! It’s a nice way to look at the menu because you can easily see vivid pictures of their main dishes and sides. Probably not too popular with the baby boomers, but you can’t win them all. With a few swipes to see what I liked and a few clicks to solidify my decision, I was done. My order was electronically sent to the kitchen and I made my way to my table.
While waiting, I read over the cute comic on the table until my attention darted to people eating: they had a spoon and chopsticks, I was confused. I need both? With Top Ramen I use a fork and drink from the bowl. Primitive, I know but maybe this was like having a knife and a gun during a zombie fight. You’re probably not going to use both, but you feel better knowing you have options. My food arrived and I was ready. I ordered the Bold Ramen ($11) with a side of Fried Rice ($4.50) with Seaweed (free). I ordered it for the sole reason that the description read: “our most popular ramen!” I figured if it was so popular, it had to be good. The ramen was made with a homemade tonkotsu broth, with a soft-boiled egg, and a choice of chicken, pork, or tofu; I went with the chicken. That wasn’t all, it comprised of 11 ingredients that they decided to keep a secret. I could clearly see green onions but the other ten may forever remain a mystery.
This was nothing like Top Ramen, it tasted delicious and fresh out the kitchen. I kept the spice level low so I could actually enjoy the bowl without searing my throat. The tonkotsu broth, green onions, and ten unidentified ingredients created a good mixture that wasn’t overly seasoned or salted. The noodles were cooked to a precise temperature, as they weren’t too soft or firm. And the chicken was just right after soaking in the broth. Every bit of the meal made me feel like I was little red riding hood when she found the perfect porridge, it was just right.
Remember I had a side of fried rice with seaweed. It’s a basic dish on it’s own, but there is a way to turn it up a notch. Grab a spoonful of the rice and soak it in the broth for a few seconds. Don’t let it get washed away in the soup otherwise it’s like the Titanic. Keep it in the spoon and then pick up some of the noodles and meat, and eat it. It’s so delicious this way! If you’re already doing this, then just nod your head in agreement. If not, then you learned it from me first!
And just like that, I had a true ramen experience. It was filling and comforting. Tatsu Ramen set the bar and kicked Top Ramen’s microwaveable ass. Now I can proudly say I’ve had ramen and not have to lie about it.
Address: 7111 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046
Phone: (323) 747-1388
Hours: Sunday to Wednesday – 11:00am to 2:00am and Thursday to Saturday – 11:00am to 3:00am.
Social: Website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter
- Friendly Staff
- Food tastes great
- Parking is limited
- Limited seating
- Restaurant gets packed quickly