Our story so far
Mr. Taster and his Lovely Tasting Assistant (LTA) have been exploring vast worlds in search of the ultimate ramen experience, with side journeys to gyoza galaxies.
Last night's close encounter in Little Tokyo began with a gyoza appetizer at TOKYO CAFE ($3.75), per recommendation of a fellow chowhound. WOW... what can I say... there were unlike any gyoza I had had before. The skins were lovely, pan fried, super crispy and smoky, filled with lovely juicy bits of pork and herbs (I had only experienced the doughy, Trader Joe's style crescent shaped gyoza). Truly lovely. We told the super friendly server girl that we had heard their gyoza was great, and she told me they're homemade. Moving on...
Our ramen quest took us to DAIKOKUYA, espoused by many hounds here. We tried the gyoza... I probably would have been more impressed had we not eaten the gyoza at Tokyo Cafe. More expensive ($5.00), and smaller dumplings knock this down a bit... but similarly crispy and flavorful. Good stuff. Let me tell you however, the ramen soup itself was lovely stuff. Rich, milky white pork broth, with a perfectly cooked boiled egg floating on the top (yolk was moist, not dry and crumbly like overcooked eggs can be, and infused with that lovely broth. They must have boiled the egg in it.) The ramen nice and chewy, like Ramen-Ya. Broth was much richer that elsewhere. The pork itself was surprisingly the weakest point here. I was expecting lovely chunks of delicately tender stewed pork like at Ramen-Ya and what was delivered was actually more like fat strips of bacon with thick reams of fat running through. A little disconcerting at first but nice and rich. We ordered some extra pork ($1.50) and received 3 cold strips straight out of the fridge (a little disappointing because our soup was almost gone and it could not get sufficiently hot) and out of the fridge the pork tasted a little old. Once warmed up it was palatable enough. Also we ran into a fellow chowhound from Virginia, who shared her crunchy pickled veggies with us... my goodness, what a blast of crunchy flavor those things were, and beautiful... sushi-like in their edible artiness.
Overall very satisfying experience, despite my disappointment with the pork. Total bill: $18. Will definitely return!
On to Episode 3: Yokohama Strikes Back
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