Wendy’s Word

Not your mama’s blog….

Noodles – Part 2 – Japanese April 10, 2011

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Continuing my Asian noodle adventure from my last post, I’ve had some wonderful ramen in a few places.

My youngest daughter recently did a history project on Japan and one enterprising mother took a group of girls to Little Tokyo after school.  I met them for dinner at Daikokuya in Little Tokyo.  We each ordered a bowl of ramen and an order of gyoza to share.  Plus, the other mom and I ordered sake – hey, she had just spent an afternoon with a group of adolescent girls and I was coming from a long day at work!

The gyoza were like none I’ve ever seen.  Long, almost like crepes, and steamed.  I’m not quite sure what was inside.  At first, we thought they had brought us the wrong thing.  They were good, but I don’t think I’d order them again.  The ramen, however, was wonderful.  Delicious broth, with pork, egg, and Japanese veggies.




And then there’s Ramen Jinya.  Ramen Jinya is in the same mini-mall as the Marshall’s that I frequent (a little too frequently), so it was only a matter of time before I tried it.  Terrific!  It has become my daughter’s and my standard Saturday lunch place.  The ramen is as good as the ramen at Daikokuya in Little Tokyo, if not better.  There are several types of broth and all the ones I’ve tried so far have been fantastic – flavorful and cloudy without being overwhelming.  The pork chashu is so tender, it melts in your mouth.  There are also greens, pickled something or other, and standout noodles.  My daughter and I always share a ramen and an order of roll sushi, and if they come at the same time, the waiter tells us to eat the soup right away so the noodles don’t get soggy.  I love that they instruct us how to eat so we get the most out of the food.  When I met Jonathan Gold a few weeks ago (this exciting event was chronicled in a recent blog entry) and he learned I lived in Studio City, he asked if I had been to Ramen Jinya.  Or rather, he said, “you’ve been to Ramen Jinya, I’m sure…”  to which I could happily say, “of course!”  Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos (of the ramen, nor do I have any of Jonathan Gold) because I’m too busy eating and sharing a lovely experience with my daughter to take pictures.  All right, I keep forgetting.  But trust me, the ramen is fantastic.


Noodles – Part 1 – Korean

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Perhaps my favorite thing about LA is the ability to find all kinds of ethnic food in authentic settings.  My Asian noodle experiences are a good example.

One Saturday, I had to take my daughter to a volunteer event in Koreatown.  If I had to wake up early on a Saturday and drive to Koreatown, then you better believe I was going to plan a food excursion to make up for it.  I scoured the blogosphere and found three good options for Korean noodles.  I’m sure there are many more – in fact I know there are, because I’ve been to other places but don’t remember their names or precisely where they are located.  So the blogosphere it was.  I called the three top candidates to make sure they were still open and they answered in Korean.  Either they did not understand my questions  (Are you open for lunch today?  Where are you located?) or I couldn’t understand their answers, but I hung up the phone from all three with no idea what they said.  I took that as a good sign.

We ended up at Olympic Noodle.  To say that it was a nondescript storefront would be to play up its curb appeal.  As we walked in, we were greeted by a friendly Korean woman who seated us.  We were the only non-Asians in the place.  We ordered dumplings and soup.   There were pots of kimchi and pickled vegetables on the table.  While we waited for our food, a Korean woman at the table next to us took some of the kimchi and vegetables from our jar and put it on a plate and encouraged us to try it.  I guess she figured we needed teaching.  I was delighted to be taken in hand.  The kimchi and pickles were delicious.  Then our food came.  The dumplings were divine.  I love dumplings so I often order them, but I have high standards for dumplings.  These were crispy on the outside and filled with flavorful and juicy meat and veggies.  Although we promised to bring our leftovers home for my younger daughter, we made a pact to tell no one about the dumplings since there most certainly would be no leftovers.  The soup was good.  Steaming, with hand-cut noodles and chicken.  The portions are huge – we shared one bowl and we couldn’t finish it.

When we were paying the bill, the woman at the table next to us who had helped us with the kimchi asked the waitress to ask us if we liked the dumplings.  Yes we did!  We left Olympic Noodle with full stomachs, leftover soup, and a feeling that we were super-cool to have discovered this authentic hole-in-the-wall with terrific food.