Another weekend and my daughter wants ramen or Chinese food at Hop Li. Instead, we compromise and head towards Hop Li to get ramen at Kotoya Ramen in West Los Angeles. Somehow we never managed to go there before, always spying it out of the corner of our eye when we were dining at Hop Li, which shares the same drab mini mall.
Posters outside announced a second location coming soon. The second location, which is closer to us, actually has opened but is only open for dinner service at this time, not lunch.
The dining room is bright and stylish, with round cushions separating each table. Each table has their own pitcher of water, though the waiter came by frequently to fill up our glasses with his own pitcher of water.
At Kotoya, you order using a slip of paper and can customize your ramen, with varying levels of spicinesss, proteins, vegetables and garnishes.
There’s even a kid’s ramen, portioned accordingly. My daughter, unfortunately, has gotten too old and her appetite too big to take advantage of it.
Kotoya has a vegetarian ramen available – either miso or spicy. My husband chose spicy. Damn, it was spicy. I tried it and could feel my mouth burn. It was topped with a blanket of vegetables – cabbage, corn, carrots, wood ear mushrooms, bean sprouts and onions. There’s even a tofu noodle option – so I’m guessing it could be transformed into both a vegan and gluten-free dish. Although I have no dietary restrictions, I’ll give them props for accommodating both dietary issues.
I chose the Miso Ramen with chicken chashu, soft-boiled egg, corn, wood ear mushrooms, bamboo shoots and nori sheet. On the first bite, I could tell that this was going to be my favorite ramen that I’ve had in a while. The broth was delicious and very flavorful. The chicken chashu was perfect, not too fatty and melt-in-your-mouth tender.
Liking her ramen as simple as possible, my daughter chose the white (salt) broth with pork chashu and no toppings. She ate the whole thing, slurping up the broth (which she suspected might have butter in it – maybe it did as it’s one of the options as a garnish).
Coming for lunch here was considerably less hassle than going to Tatsu. There’s parking in the garage underneath, and since we arrived when they opened, we didn’t have to wait for a table. My daughter’s heart may still belong to Tatsu, but I’m devoting mine to Kotoya.
Location –11901 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, 90025. Second location at 10422 National Blvd., Los Angeles, 90034
Website – http://kotoyausa.com
Kid-Friendly – Yes
Kid’s Menu – Yes
Pesco-Vegetarian Friendly – Yes
Vegetarian/Vegan Friendly – Yes
Gluten-Free Options – Yes