There is a certain kind of beauty when you combine traditional recipes and contemporary ideals. Tatsu Ramen was able to achieve this under owner Ryu Isobe, who started the restaurant when he discovered a lack of bold ramen in Los Angeles.
Tatsu offers a new approach to the dining experience, one that I have to say was largely enjoyable. It’s a mixture between a sit down restaurant and a fast food joint where there is a level of efficiency that was modeled after newer restaurants found in Tokyo. Walking into the restaurant, you find that there are neither waiters nor a counter to order food, but instead you place it at one of a handful of tablets by the entrance. The interface is clean and simple offering customers a wide variety of menu items with the choice to mix and match ingredients. From there, they have wait staff that will bring you the food you ordered.
One of the center pieces of the restaurant and something that Isobe and the Tatsu family is extremely proud of — a small glass room located towards the middle of the dining room. This is where they actually make the noodles, a reminder that fresh ingredients are an integral part to the food they cook. Watching one of the chefs create the noodles from start to finish was mesmerizing. It’s a very visceral experience to have even a small insight with the preparation of your food and a technique that isn’t used often enough, adding a little bit of entertainment to the wait.
Then it comes down to the food. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a big fan of Asian cuisine particularly curries and soups, so I had high expectations for Tatsu. And I was pleasantly surprised when they met them. We sat down to try three of their signature dishes: the Soul Ramen, the Bold Ramen, and the Hippie Ramen. Each uniquely different with bold flavors, but at its core they all had a savory broth which is the cornerstone to a great bowl of ramen.
The Soul Ramen dish was made with a homemade Tonkotsu broth consisting of black garlic oil and a sweet umami sauce. The Bold Ramen also has the Tonkotsu broth but mixes in a variety of bold flavors and a seasoned soft-boiled egg. The Hippie Ramen uses a vegan broth and hints of onion, soy sauce, and ginger. Each dish comes with the choice of meat, which is a great addition, but the broth and noodles are so good that they are not overtly necessary.
Tatsu offers a unique and daring take on ramen, without the hassle of venturing into Chinatown or little Tokyo. And with two locations in Sawtelle and West Hollywood it’s an easy stop to try some of the best ramen around.
This article was written by Andrew Collins, producer for Food Steez. Located in Los Angeles, Food Steez combines a love for flavorful dishes and stylistic videos into a brand that will have you coming back for more. Co-founders Mike Irving and Sean Thomas have created a new kind of food blog; one with easy recipes and high-end videos.