It doesn’t take a massive amount of research to realize just how much Los Angeles loves ramen. It’s everywhere. And thanks to our West Coast location, LA has become somewhat of a testing ground for every Japanese ramen spot looking to expand its footprint into the USA. So we don’t just have a whole bunch of ramen—we have some of the best ramen in the country.
From old-school Little Tokyo classics to newer vegan spots, you have your pick of pretty much any ramen experience you might be looking for. But for us, these are our favorite ramen spots in LA.
Tucked inside a strip mall along Western Ave. in Koreatown, this sleek, modern ramen bar has six different ramen on the menu, but the one you want is the spicy shoyu tonkotsu. For those who fear the heat, know it’s more rich than spicy, filled with a decadent pork broth that’s been simmered for 24 hours. The noodles have a nice chew and the thick slabs of pork belly chashu floating on top basically melt the second they hit your mouth. Round out your meal with their equally excellent shrimp katsu sandwich and a pint of crisp Japanese craft beer.
A meal at Afuri Ramen feels undeniably refreshing, kind of like wiping your face with a fancy eucalyptus towel. The Arts District spot is a roomy industrial space that looks like a tech start-up cafeteria: lots of stainless steel and big windows that let natural light pour in. Afuri’s signature yuzu-infused shio ramen is wonderfully light and bright, with strong citrus flavors cutting through the salty chicken bone stock. The translucent broth glistens just the right way, the chashu pork is tender, and we love how springy the thin noodles are. Plus, we can slurp down the entire bowl and not feel like we’re carrying a bowling ball in our gut afterward.
Ramen Nagi is a Tokyo-based chain with a 24-hour-simmered tonkotsu broth that draws big lines at Westfield Century City Mall. Expect to wait about 45 minutes for your table during peak times, but rest assured these ramen bowls are worth it. The tonkotsu is silky and rich without coating your mouth with fat, and the pork belly they use as a topping is a little sweet and meltingly tender. Their standard Spice Level 1 isn’t very spicy, but you can crank up the heat or make other adjustments in noodle thickness, broth richness, and how much garlic you’re craving that day. Once you sit down, Ramen Nagi cranks out your order incredibly fast, making up for that hour you spent playing Candy Crush in line.
Located in a Thai Town strip mall next to the legendary Sapp Coffee Shop, Susuru is a small order-at-the-counter ramen shop with a handful of tables, but also serves everything from sushi to takoyaki to katsu sandos. And though they offer an interesting khao soi-inspired ramen, the tonkotsu ramen here happens to be the highlight. The broth is extremely rich, cloudy, and borderline too flavorful—like a tight squeeze from a pro wrestler rather than a warm hug. But we still love it anyway. Every spoonful hits with a piledriver of flavor, and we suggest ordering your bowl spicy to balance out the heavy pork broth (maybe it’s the Thai influence, but they don't play around with spice here).
The house specialty at Jidaiya is chicken-based ramen, which makes sense when you realize this strip mall shop in Gardena is run by the same owners as the excellent yakitori spot, Torihei. The dining room here has a strong Old Tokyo theme to it, with a faux wooden rooftop and lots of dark wood along the bar. Our favorite bowl is easily the Tokyo Yatai, a soothing, savory, lighter-style shoyu ramen that’s adorned with a seared piece of chashu, a slice of pink fishcake, and a perfectly soft-boiled egg. They’ve also got more unique ramen styles that are worth a try, like garlic tantanmen and soy butter-tossed “monja” noodles. And be sure to get an order of their pan-fried “UFO gyoza” too, which come linked together as a single disc of dumplings.
LA’s South Bay is for ramen lovers what we imagine South Beach Miami is to people who are really into Pitbull: the absolute promised land. And though we might be pressed to name our absolute favorite, the one we frequent most often is Josui, a cozy, always-busy spot in Gardena that not only offers a variety of ramen styles, but somehow does all of them extremely well. The house ramen uses a pork, chicken, and fish stock that’s flavorful and balanced, plus there are options boosted with housemade garlic or chili oil. Also, their tofu-topped vegan shoyu is some of the best vegan ramen anywhere in LA.
This tonkotsu ramen chain from Hakata, Japan has locations in Little Tokyo, Torrance, and Orange County, and there’s usually a wait at all of them once the temps drop below 70 degrees. But while busy, Hakkata Ikkousha also has a nifty virtual queue system where you can reserve a spot in line without being at the restaurant (just make sure you show up before you’re called). Most everyone gets the standard tonkotsu, which is hearty, nicely porky, and generously covered in toppings, but we suggest going for their mentaiko ramen, which is essentially the tonkotsu enchanted with a dab of savory fish roe (don’t worry, it’s subtle) and a slight kick of chili paste. Few things are better for warming your soul on those rare chilly LA nights.
A nice change of pace from Very Serious Ramen Joints with hour-long waits, Moto Ramen is a neighborhood spot in Culver City that does high-quality bowls of black garlic tonkotsu and spicy miso ramen without the fuss. There's a large patio out back where locals linger with their tiny dogs, and most of the dining room inside is taken by an open kitchen where chefs silently assemble bowls of noodles for takeout. The star dish here is the tantanmen, made with a thick, sesame-infused broth that’s topped with a heap of ground pork. You can also order the tantanmen cold, which swaps out the broth for a spicy sesame paste, and gives you a chance to better appreciate the delicate, curly noodles slicked with sauce.
Daikokuya is the mother of LA ramen and the main reason we transitioned from that sad, microwaveable version in our dorm room to the real thing. With five locations across the city, Daikokuya is definitely a bit of a chain these days, but a visit to the original Little Tokyo shop for one of their traditional bowls is a pilgrimage every ramen disciple must take. The lines can get long, but the old-school, no-frills space is the exact setting you want to be housing a bowl of noodles in.
We’re combining Tsujita LA and its smaller sister spot across the street, Tsujita Annex, mostly because despite eating at both multiple times over the years, we can’t really figure out what the heck the meaningful differences are between them. Whichever you choose (probably just the one with the shortest line), you won’t be disappointed—the tsukemen dip ramen is one of the greatest bowls of noodle soup in Los Angeles.
We used to pour one out for the poor Valley-dwellers forced to brave traffic into the city for a decent bowl of ramen. Not after Burosu opened in November 2020, giving Studio City and everyone else from over the hill the sweet, sweet taste of ramen within a 20-minute drive. Burosu offers the plant-based Burraku and Gurin for vegans as well as the standout spicy Reddo flavored with chili oil and sesame paste.
Santouka has been open since 2006, which makes it practically ancient on the local ramen circuit. It’s also pretty basic, but in the actual basic sense, not in the person who only wears sweatpants and Stan Smiths sense. Inside the Mitsuwa food court in Mar Vista, you line up, place your order, and wait for them to call your number over the loudspeaker. You should be getting the Hokkaido-style shio (salt) ramen, which is a little lighter than other bowls around. Make sure you also leave time for roaming the Japanese market and stocking up on every flavored Pocky you can find.
Before “plant-based” became a meaningless buzzword, Rakkan had already started selling its line of kombu-based vegetarian ramen in 2011 in Tokyo. Having expanded to LA, the Japanese mini-chain now offers an array of light, flavorful ramen bowls with fanciful names like Garnet (miso-flavored), Pearl (shio-based), and Amber (soy-based). Yes, there are vegan options, but even if you’re primarily a meat-eater, you can come away from any of Rakken’s three LA locations feeling, just for a brief moment, like you might briefly grasp the pinnacle of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Our favorite, the Amber, lets the umami flavors shine against the thin noodles and a few slices of chashu.LA GuideThe Best Noodle Soups In Los Angeles
Mogumogu specializes in mazemen, broth-less ramen typically flavored with chili and garlic soy sauce. With cheese, curry, and vegan varieties, the Sawtelle shop’s mazemen bowls pack all the flavor without any of the need for soup. In hot or cold weather, it’s a welcome change of pace from tonkotsu’s neverending reign across the city.LA GuideThe Best Restaurants In Little Tokyo
Build-your-own ramen is a concept that sounds pretty gimmicky, but Shin-Sen-Gumi works—the ramen is great and the operation is well run. By build-your-own, we don’t just mean you get to throw a few green onions on top. From the thickness of the noodles to the richness of the broth, you can customize your bowl to any degree you want here, and that’s the kind of power that keeps people lining up.
Located kitty-corner from Sqirl and Melody Wine Bar, Ken’s Ramen is the work of LA native and non-person-named-Ken Will Hu, who started Ken’s on the East Coast before moving it home. The original paitan ramen here leans towards the sweeter side, with all the richness typically associated with tonkotsu (even though the broth is chicken-based) and a worthwhile option for anyone keeping kosher or halal. The spicy "Hell" version is even better, with their house-made chili oil adding dimensions of both heat and flavor.
Venice Ramen is a small ramen counter on Washington Blvd. that's smack dab on the Marina Del Rey/Venice border. The Tokyo-style ramen here isn’t flashy, but the deeply flavored broths and handmade noodles make this one of the best bowls of the Westside, if not all of LA. Tonkotsu ramen is the house specialty, but if you want something lighter, try the fantastic Chuka Soba: tender-chewy noodles in a clear pork broth topped with chashu, scallions, bamboo shoots, and a hard-boiled egg, which the owner will tell you is the way it’s done in Shibuya.