Last month we discovered that Hokkaido, Japan's Ramen Hayatemaru was opening a second L.A. store, bringing the miso-tinted bowls celebrated at its Torrance location to the West L.A. space that long housed Raku. The business is officially open now and we took a look inside.
Midtown Lunch spread word over the weekend that Hayatemaru's seven bowls are now being served at this address, including its red and white miso, tsukemen with adjustable levels of fish flavor, jiggae ramen, and a tonkotsu that dials back some of the overt porkiness of Tsujita and Yamadaya's Hakata-style ramen.
We paid a visit today for lunch to discover a fairly simple set-up, with just four tables hugging the wall across from the restaurant's long bar, everything looking much the same as Raku left it. In addition to a half-order of shoyu ramen for $5.00, we opted for the juicy Amazu fried chicken with sweet vinegar and ginger sauce, a crisply-coated, super tender steal at $3.90.
The shoyu ramen is not only less pork-intensive, but noticeably lighter than what we usually find around town. The kitchen tells us they salt the ramen more heavily, as they assume men want saltier ramen than women, but offer to provide an additional bowl of plain broth if you desire to bring the saltiness down. We also detected a bitterness to the ramen broth that staff credited to a pan-toasted soy sauce that we felt distracted slightly from the overall enjoyment. The standout was the nicely marbleized and delicate pork, making us eager to come back and try more of the restaurant's varieties, despite not being as totally blown away by the squiggly noodles as we'd hoped in this first, early visit.
Ramen Hayatemaru, 11678 W. Olympic Blvd. Suite 105 West L.A..