11/16/2012 04:33:00 PM

Best Thing We Ate Last Night: Hakata Ramen at Shin-Sen-Gumi

There are a lot of ramen joints in Little Tokyo, and for most people Daikokuya is at the top of the list. But there is always a line outside of Daikokuya. And now, it seems, there is always a line outside of Shin-Sen-Gumi, a super popular chain that opened on Central Avenue about a year ago. After a book launch party at The Spice Table - chef Bryant Ng is in the new Food & Wine America's Greatest New Cooks cookbook - we were hungry and it was raining. Ramen fit the bill, and since it's right next door, we thought we'd brave the wait for a steaming bowl of ramen. We're very glad we did.

The Hakata ramen is a deeply flavored bowl of soup with a salty, milky, porky broth and springy noodles. You can customize your bowl with all sorts of toppings, but we kept it simple with the ginger and sesame they offer, adding spinach and bean sprouts. We also kept our broth, noodles and oil amount "normal," which was just right. We have no idea what the young staff yells to each other over the din of the restaurant, but we like it. And we like watching the guy scoop broth from a giant vat in the open kitchen, adding basket of noodles four at a time. The lines at Daikokuya might be longer, but it's worth the wait here, too. Even in the rain.

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