• Salad Appetizer
  • Gyoza
  • Fried Rice
  • Shredded Pork Bowl
  • Daikoku Ramen

Date Visited: May 18, 2012
PriceComplimentary Salad Appetizer; $5.95 for Gyoza; $7.95 for Fried Rice; $8.95 for Shredded Pork Bowl; and $8.95 for Daikoku Ramen with Kotteri Flavor.

LanternAlthough the weather is blazing hot in Los Angeles, there’s still no excuse not to eat a bowl of ramen. Every once in awhile, I get this craving for it regardless of the season or temperature. The ramen standard in LA is high, especially in the Little Tokyo neighborhood where there are literally lines of different ramen joints. Hint: you can probably tell which one is the best by eyeing the one with the longest line. The winner every time is Daikokuya. It’s a small little shop that purposely limits the quantity of seating to ensure high quality. And the cool thing is that they are open all day long without closing in between lunch and dinner. This works to one’s advantage by visiting during the off-peak hours to avoid the long lines. After deciding to drive down to LA for the weekend, Grace and I knew that Daikokuya had to be on our must-eat list. I’ve heard so much about it previously and had to find out myself if the hype was real.

There are multiple locations in Los Angeles – Little Tokyo, Arcadia, Monterey Park, Hacienda Heights, and Costa Mesa. For this review, we decided to pay a visit to the Hacienda Heights venue located inside a small plaza right off the 60 freeway.

Outside

Outside

Inside

Inside

Upon entrance, we were greeted with a friendly group of waitresses wearing the traditional Japanese do-rags and seated immediately. The place looks empty above because the Hacienda Heights location actually does close between lunch and dinner. We were the first group in the door at 5:30 PM.

Pickled Ginger and Other Condiments

Pickled Ginger and Other Condiments

Menu

Menu

The decor inside is all vintage and makes you feel like you’re in Tokyo with the wooden tables, toys still in their boxes, and beer posters. The space inside is limited in seating such that Daikokuya can maintain the high quality of service.

Complimentary Salad Appetizer

Complimentary Salad Appetizer

Everyone was served with a complimentary salad appetizer to start. Shredded cabbage with a mayo-based dressing. It tasted quite good and worked well as an amuse-bouche.

Gyoza

Gyoza

Gyoza – Pan-fried pork and vegetable dumplings made right here in the store

The gyoza at Daikokuya is made fresh daily. There is a distinctive crunch to the outside and each bite had a hint of ginger and green onion flavor. Crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. These aren’t the typical ones you find at Asian supermarkets. Each order comes with 4 pieces.

Fried Rice

Fried Rice – Onions, green onions, egg, corn and chopped kurobuta pork with rice

I love fried rice and Daikokuya did a great job. It was seasoned so well, yet not overly salty. The pickled ginger on the side adds a kick to each bite. My theory is that the chopped kurobuta pork (often known as Berkshire pork in the US) is what makes this so tasty when it’s blended in with the other ingredients.

Shredded Pork Bowl

Shredded Pork Bowl – Kurobuta pork belly grilled and served over rice with green onions, pickled ginger and a sweet glaze

Yum. That’s the best word to describe the shredded pork bowl. I know we ordered a lot of food, but we wanted to try everything. The shredded pork bowl is both tender and fatty, and of course very flavorful. I suggest sharing this dish and the fried rice with another person so you’re not too stuffed before you even get to the main dish, ramen.

Extra Pork for the Ramen

Extra Pork for the Ramen

Daikoku Ramen

Daikoku Ramen

Daikoku Ramen with Kotteri Flavor, which uses added soup extracted from the back fat

“The process begins the afternoon before it ever reaches your table by boiling pork bones and joints in a large cauldron all throughout the night reducing at an undisclosed location. By the time it reaches the stove behind the counter the next day all the goodness is concentrated in our famous tonkotsu soup base From the pot the soup goes into bowls where it is infused with our secret blended soysauce. Into the completed broth we add boiled chijire style egg noodles, the firmness of which can be altered upon request. Finally, the kurobuta pork belly chasu, marinated boiled egg, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, green onions and sprinkle of sesame seeds completes the reason why you’re here and why we are still in business.”

As you can see, Daikokuya dedicates an entire page on its menu to explaining its ramen preparation process. They certainly take pride in it and it is great for the customer to learn that around 15 hours is spent making just the broth. And when I say broth, there is no doubt in my mind that it is the best I’ve ever had to date. The soup base is creamy, but not too heavy even with the Kotteri flavor (soup extracted from the back fat). The brown boiled egg is perfect and has an easy-to-bite texture where the yolk oozes outward. The noodles were cooked a bit on the firm side, but that is the way it’s supposed to be. You can alter the firmness, but I don’t recommend doing so. The chasu pork was delicious and I couldn’t get enough of it so I ordered extra on the side. The bean sprouts and bamboo shoots bring out a contrast with everything else to make this one of the most delicious ramen bowls for me. If you’re a ramen lover, Daikokuya is simply a must-try.

Tips:
1) You’re out of luck if you’re vegetarian because most of the dishes are carnivorous in nature.
2) There is only 1 type of ramen with a choice of adding Kotteri flavor, which uses added soup extracted from the back fat.
3) There are multiple locations, but all of them tend to have long lines.

Yelp Review: http://www.yelp.com/biz/daikokuya-los-angeles
4 out of 5 stars. 3,400+ reviews

Address:
(Downtown / Little Tokyo)
327 E 1st St
Los Angeles, CA 90012 (map)
Tel: (213) 626-1680

Hours:
Mon-Thu 11 am – 12 am
Fri-Sat 11 am – 1 am
Sun 11 am – 11 pm