Oh, how I love the 'Hounds . . .
So I found myself within walking distance of Little Tokyo today, answering the call of civic duty and the Superior Court building. I channeled fond memories of Mr. Taster's Ramen Wars, and remembered on thing - Daikokuya was on 1st Street. I went in search. . .
I found it pretty easily, nestled amongst the other cozy Japanese joints along that stretch, and was so pleased with the warm, no-frills decor. I beat the rush, so I sunk into a well-worn and taped-up red vinyl booth and eyeballed the menu. I only had eyes for ramen. I had never, ever had the real deal (and only recently went back to eating pork) so this was a double treat.
With a place like Daikokuya, it's really all about the food. Service was efficient, decor is minimal, ambiance - who cares? I want warm chewy rich tasty heavenly NOODLES - and damn, did they ever arrive in droves.
First, the sides -
The little shredded cabbage salad is pretty damn tasty, with a masago miso dressing that woke up my palate sufficiently.
Then came the tuna sashimi I ordered, in a bowl with lots of rice and seaweed. Fresh, cool, tasty - not mind-blowing quality, but just fine.
The ramen arrived in a huge steaming bowl - and right away, I knew this was indeed a special lunch adventure. The noodles were just divine - chewy without being tough; an amazing consistency. The boiled egg - soft, flavorful, and perfect. The broth was very, very good - but no kick. So I eyeballed the condiments on the table and found a little hot pepper and a dish of what I can only guess was pureed garlic (if there are other ingredients, I'm sure a wiser 'Hound will speak-up). I added a dab of both - an wahlah. An Absolutely Perfect Lunch. That garlic goodness was soooo good - but I pitied the jurors who sat next to me the rest of the day - it is NOT for the anti-garlicky folks among us :)
My only complaint (and it's a mild one) - the pork pieces themselves were, just as Mr. Taster noted - just so-so. Rather dry, despite the soupy goodness, and not top-quality (not that I'm an expert - this was just an observation).
Still, I can't thank you all enough for leading me here - with a $15 tab (that includes the sashimi, ramen, and green tea), it was beyond worth-it. I will indeed be back.
Ciao, hounds -