On my trip to Southern California a couple of weeks ago, I sampled the ramen in Japantown. Our plane got into LAX around nine and by the time we got to the Grand Kyoto Hotel in downtown L.A., I was starved. The hotel restaurants were closed, but somebody recommended the ramen shops on 1st Street. These restaurants are open until 3 a.m., and getting a bowl of late-night ramen has become a hipster thing to do.
It was chilly outside, but it was only a couple of blocks. I got over there around 11 p.m. and found the most popular of the ramen stands packed. So I opted for the more sedate scene at Mr. Ramen, where I ordered a bowl of roast pork ramen soup. The freshly made noodles were excellent, and the dark-colored broth was warming and satisfying on a cold night. The big slices of pork loin tasted like Sunday-dinner pork roast. I liked the hard-boiled egg garnish too.
On another night, I went to a ramen shop called Orochon Ramen, where they specialize in spicy noodles. I ordered the spiciest noodles on the regular menu and loved them. They came in a miso broth with lots of red chile paste. The stock tasted like spicy Korean soon tofu soup. Orochon Ramen is famous for its challenge -- eat the super spicy bowl of noodles on the hotter-than-shit flame-thrower menu in 30 minutes, and you get your picture on the wall of fame. Adam Richman did this challenge on Man vs. Food. While I was there, a Vietnamese-American guy from Houston was doing the challenge. He was only halfway through the bowl, and he didn't look like he was having much fun.
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We don't have much ramen in Houston -- instead we eat Vietnamese mi. But I've heard the House of Bowls on Corporate has some spicy ramen. I'll go check it out and let you know.