Ramen. A staple of Japanese cuisine. Noodles in a broth. It’s all the same, right? Some ramen in Los Angeles would make an American like me think that’s the case.
But then I took myself to West Los Angeles where Ryu has done a lot of work perfecting his menu at Tatsu Ramen. Now I understand that there’s more to ramen than noodles in a broth.
Ryu earned his degree in Entrepreneurship from USC. Originally from Japan, he went in search of ramen soups in Los Angeles that he could equate with those of his homeland and had no success. So, after college, he teamed up with USC friend William, and they opened the first Tatsu Ramen at 2123 Sawtelle Blvd. With Ryu’s ramen prowess and William’s tech skills, they’ve created a unique environment to house their unique soups.
The first sign when entering Tatsu Ramen, that reflects this is not your usual soup joint, is their iPad ordering process. I’ve read other revews talking about this innovative quality and it is a wonder to behold! Line up at the cue, tap out your order on the touch screen, have a seat at their countertop seating facing the chefs hard at work (or at one of the few tables, inside or out) and your food will be brought to you as you “Check In” to Tatsu Ramen on Facebook Mobile.
My friend and I passed on this exciting new ordering process (hence my reading other reviews) because we had an opportunity to meet the founder himself, and his business partner William. Our soups came straight from the source. We found these two you men to be very excited about their ramen soups and their burgeoning business. They really enjoyed sharing their creations with us, and telling us about their vision.Their goal was to create a unique blend of just the right flavors for delicious ramen, in an atmosphere for the young, the old, the hip, and the hungry, in a super friendly, casual atmosphere. And that is what they have done. Add to that a late hour kitchen and you’ve got the perfect outing for those cool fall nights. And with a second location at 7111 Melrose Ave, they’ve not only succeeded, they’ve excelled!
This ramen is nothing like you’ve had before. It’s been vetted by some of Japan’s top chefs, tasted and reworked, with love and care, to create a masterpiece of unique flavors, combining traditional Japanese fare with a twist perfect for California’s hot weather and creative crowds.Starting with a pork base (a chicken base is in the works), the base broth is boiled up to 12 hours, fresh daily, to develop just the right flavors and bring a perfect bowl of soup to each hungry customer upon order.
We were provided with three of their best seller soups and each was as delicious as the last! The Soul Ramen is my personal favorite with rich flavors and a spicy kick! Bold Ramen with its big flavor and mild spices is a current best seller with at least 300 bowls served in a single day! Old School Ramen is the basis for it all. The broth that forms this soup is the main ingredient for all the others. On its own, it has a light and lovely sweetness.
All of these soups provide a perfect balance of soft and crunchy, mild and spicy, noodles and broth – a special something that will make your mouth water when you contemplate your meal hours later.
Now, another treat they have perfected is a version of their ramen they call Naked Ramen. It’s not considered ramen in Japan, but it’s a unique take on the ramen meal and is perfect for a hot CA summer and for the vegetarian and vegan connoisseur. This is the ramen without the soup, but, with a sweet sesame glaze, and a fresh lime for squeezing, it’s certainly not lacking! And, at Tatsu, it’s the favorite summertime meal!
“Tatsu” means dragon in Japanese, and is the perfect name for this place of ramen feasting, not only because its founder was born in the year of the dragon, but because the essence of this restaurant and its ramen soups brings a powerful feeling of good things to come.
Ryu and William are young and excited about what they’ve created and are the positive energy behind its ever growing success. It was so much fun to meet them and to learn about their vision, and to hear about their ambitions, and to absorb their energy. And, best of all, to eat their soups. At Tatsu Ramen, ramen has more than flavor and style – it has a soul.