Lately, I am blessed with the opportunity to travel between three very chowhoundish cities. San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York. To top it off, thanks to all the local chowhounds and their dedication for good finds, I was able to narrow down a list of Ramen stores to try out for lunch in all three cities.
Comparison candidates - Halu - Bay Area, Daikokuya Ramen - Los Angeles, Minca - Manhattan.
It is very tough to judge all of these places even on a subjective level as they are all well regarded places by the local hounds so I will tread lightly.
Here is my ranking before I head into description and what I thought. Favorite - Minca Ramen by a very slight margin over Halu Ramen and Daikokuya.
So lets start off with the descriptions. Halu by far, has the best broth with Minca following in second and Daikokuya third. What stands out with their broth was the accentuated pork fat flavor that captures what I liked about Ramen houses in Tokyo. Minca's broth was also fatty but was in someway too rich. The kotteri style offered by Daikokuya failed to even compare.
To those that love the pork part of Ramen, I'd give the thumbs up for Minca's pork and Daikokuya (slight edge to Minca) with Halu Ramen trailing far behind. Minca's pork is definitely very fatty and tender which blends very very well with the fatty/rich pork soup base. Definitely not for the healthy crowd. Daikokuya's pork is sliced similar to bacon done extremely well. The reason I liked Minca's pork better was my bias towards more tender pork over a Bacon style pork that has a slight chewy texture. Halu's pork was decent very tender but they can definitely use some pork from these other places.
Noodles are hard to compare, but I liked the texture of Daikokuya's Noodle slightly more than Minca's with Halu's again trailing. The toothsome-ness of Daikokuya's ramen noodle was done just right. There was something about Minca's noodle that had the similar toothsome-ness but wasn't as memorable as Daikokuya's noodle. I believe it might have to do with the salt that I often see Daikokuya's ramen cookers throw in and rub down before boiling. Halu's noodles definitely is their weakest point. The texture of their noodle is not as chewy and toothsome as I like and lacks the "almost" fresh/handmade feel that Daiko and Minca seem to be able to pull off.
To come down with a good ramen place is tough. To judge three different ramen place in three different city is even tougher. The rankings are simply my opinion and I honestly can say you will do no wrong going to any of the above places mentioned. But an excellent bowl of Ramen IMHO would definitely include - Halu's broth, Minca's pork, Daikokuya's noodles (as well as their egg).