Daikokuya in J-town

Originally uploaded by illewminator.
Daikokuya is one of my new favorite spots in j-town. it's a fairly new place in j-town on 1st street, between san pedro and central (located where the old okonomiyaki place used to be).

even though i'm not necessarily a big ramen fan, i must say this was perhaps the best ramen i've ever had. their broth is made from pork bones (kyushu-style or tonkotsu ramen), so it's a cloudy whitish soup, as opposed to clear, shoyu-based broth typical to most ramen. the broth is probably the best part of the ramen and is what distinguishes this ramen from the rest (a warning from my friend, winston, about the broth: do not spill any of that precious broth on your clothing because it will leave a permanent stain that no dry cleaner can remove. to me, this means there must be a hell of a lot of bacon grease in this broth, which explains the secret of why it's so damned tasty!).

the noodles are cooked to just the right chewy consistency and you get 3 generous slices of black pork, which is like the thick pork bacon slices you get at some korean bbq joints. there's also the slices of that thick, yellowish vegetable (is it gobo?) and a whole boiled egg, which is just barely cooked so the yolk is still on the soft/almost runny side. and the whole thing is topped with a generous heap of shredded scallions. in addition to the regular white pepper and togarashi (chili pepper), there are also jars of minced garlic and pickled ginger on the table so you can add to your taste.

the "daikoku ramen" is $7.50 for a (large) bowl. you can also get it with the broth and noodles served separately for $7.75. i can't remember what this was called, but after the waiter described it to me that way, it seemed pointless to me, anyway. other items on the menu include sushi (which was just ok), tempura (pretty good), ginger pork, tonkatsu, oyako-don, and unagi-don (i haven't tried any of these, but i hear the ginger pork is good). for the really hungry, you can also get a combo of ramen plus tonkatsu, ginger pork, and a bunch of other choices. these seemed to run in the $10.50 and up price range.

i also tried a "dessert" that was listed on a sign posted on the wall in japanese writing. it turned out to be a skewer with 3 little (cold) mochi balls and basted with a thick, sweet teriyaki-ish sauce. it wasn't bad, but i think it's more of an appetizer or snack to eat with beer -- in my mind, anything with teriyaki sauce disqualifies it from being a dessert. i found it difficult to choke down after my ramen, since i was expecting something sweet and creamy, like the mochi ice cream i wished i had ordered... they also serve alcohol (beer, shochu, and plum wine).

it seems word has spread quickly, since i just went again a few nights ago and it was packed with people waiting for a table. but no worries -- you can always sit at the counter.


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