Considering I just returned from ten days of eating quintessential San Antonio/Texan cuisine, I came back to Los Angeles a few days ago with a burning hunkering for meals neither fried, barbecued or smothered in cheese. As much as I loved the Lone Star State onslaught of puffy tacos and sour nachos (both being highlighted in a past issue of Saveur highlighting tex-mex cuisine), prime grade angus beef steaks, roasted quail, pecans pies (so good!), and a deluge of Texan style BBQ that could only be compared to a carcass in sheer amount, I was happy at the prospect of dining somewhere the food wasn’t cause for buying a new larger-sized pair of jeans before suppertime to accomodate for the expected increase in girth around the midsection (which I really did!). What I missed while away on holiday in Spurs country was the sheer diversity of foods Los Angeles offers the hungry soul. And continuing the sentiment of my previous post about venturing out during the wee hours away from typical late-night haunts such as Denny’s or Norm’s, I made my way to Little Tokyo last night to quell the hungry grumblings of a near empty stomach with some food that I definitely did not see offered amongst the Whataburger’s and Taco Cabana’s in Texas.
1st Street in Little Tokyo is a foodie’s dream come true. Alongside this quarter mile stretch of Los Angeles are about 10 restaurants offering an assortment of many things japanese, all seemingly delicious. My dining buddy and softball teammate Bill and I, after losing a heartbreaking one run loss at our weekly game, decided to drown out our sorrows last night at a new destination amongst the late night restaurants we’ve set out to all try. And let me tell you, nothing helps wash away the agony of defeat like a big bowl of ramen. DAIKOKUYA is ripe with character in decor, patronage and staff, and we discovered they serve an extremely delicious bowl of noodles. Tatted up ramen cooks and friendly snaggle-toothed waitresses give the small restaurant an air of authenticity. The assortment of vintage movie prints from japanese cinema of yore and the red diner-styled barstools and booths make this seem like a prime candidate as a set location for the next Tarantino flick. Daikokuya translates into “Big Black Family, not in reference to the Eddie Murphy Klumps, but a particular black swine that the restaurant uses to flavour their incredibly rich and complex broth. If God was to ejaculate into your mouth, this is what it would taste like. So open up and say ahhh! Each sip of broth was a small sensory reward, the rich stock hiding in a liquid fog a cache of fresh bamboo shoots, chewy noodles, a handful of diced green onions, and succulent pieces of sliced chasu pork that bordered on divine. Fuck the chicken soup for your soul avenue, and take a detour to get yourself some Daikokuya ramen on these chilly LA winter nights instead. And ask for an extra side plate of the roast pork to add to your noodles. I sure will next time!
327 E. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012