I realize that my raving reviews of ramen have started to add up and it might be reasonable to coin me the boy who cried amazing broth; nonetheless, there is no way I am downplaying the amazing ramen being offered at Little Osaka’s Tsujita Annex.
Where is Little Osaka? It is a little Japanese enclave between Olympic Blvd. and Nebraska Ave. on Sawtelle [immediately west of the 405] in Los Angeles. It is a great place to walk around — and BOY WILL YOU NEED TO before and after eating this ramen!
Four Unique Pre-Dining Observations:
1. The Annex is one of three Tsujita’s within a quarter mile. Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle is across the street and a new Tsujita will be opening soon a few doors down. Why three locations? Aside from the fact that each of the two existing restaurants are busting at the seams in popularity, each eatery represents a variation in noodle- and broth-style. Adopting true Japanese form, the Tsujita chain has chosen to allow each Ramen-ya to focus on one thing and push it toward perfection. Of the two existing restaurants, the Annex uses a thicker udon-style noodle and a broth made from soy and pork and the Artisanal Noodle House uses thinner noodles and a broth made from fish and pork.
2. A local referral always helps. My wife’s hairstylist, Kentaro, from Taka Hair Salon, stated that the Annex is the best ramen around — hand’s down. He raved about the depth of flavor and the large chewy noodles. I’m sold!
3. Empty Sun Noodle crates stacked in front of the restaurant!!! Aside from the laborious task of making noodles in-house, Sun Noodle is perhaps the best quality noodle on the market. I first learned of them on Bizarre Foods when Andrew Zimmern toured the Sun Noodle factory in Jersey City. Focusing on high quality ingredients and the ability to give each restaurant a completely custom noodle, Sun Noodle is a true cut above the rest.
4. Our order was taken before even entering the restaurant! While this may seem “cold” and against our cultural grain, it is both efficient [ensuring that most of your time waiting outside for one of the 17 seats inside is not wasted] and true to Ramen-ya culture. There are many-a-Ramen-ya in Tokyo where ordering is down at a vending machine while in line outside of the restaurant.
The Main Event
I ordered the standard ramen with soft-boiled egg. It was equipped with bean sprouts, pork, thick chewy noodles and a broth that was thicker, deeper and fattier [in a good way] than anything I had ever tasted! And, if the standard bowl wasn’t intoxicating enough, there’s more….
Onikasu, a spice bleand [pictured above] made fresh every morning in-house, and minced garlic are recommended for liberal use as condiments. I went with the suggested three scoops of garlic which made me oh so happy, yet in desperate need a breath freshener for the rest of the day.
As you can tell from above, I must not have liked the broth all that much [joking, of course]. While I do have a fairly large appetite, my ability to finish the entire bowl can only be attributed to the life-changing, deeper-than-deep, flavor of the broth.
Consider yourself “missing out” if you drive within five miles of this place and neglect the urge to stop — enough said.