The Best Japanese Noodles in Los Angeles

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Inaba bowl at Ichimi Ann | Photo by Matthew Kang

Japanese cuisine has a wide range of styles and contexts, but noodles are one area that the culture has essentially mastered. Placed in broth, dipped in sauces, tossed with every possible ingredient, these chewy strands are addictive, fun to eat, and incredibly adaptable. Los Angeles has benefited from the proliferation of Japanese cuisine, not just through sushi, but through the common comfort food that pervades the East Asian country. Much of L.A.'s Japanese cuisine finds its foundation in the South Bay, where many immigrants first arrived and set up shop. But there are also great noodle restaurants on the Westside and of course Little Tokyo in Downtown L.A. From hefty white udon noodles to umami-rich ramen and chewy soba, here's a sampler of some of the best Japanese noodles in Los Angeles.

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Inaba bowl at Ichimi Ann | Photo by Matthew Kang

Ichimi Ann



Ichimi Ann is the soba specialist in Southern California, a hidden gem in a humble shack that's worth the journey to old downtown Torrance, especially on a warm day when the cold soba noodles, freshly cut in-house, might be the best thing to supplement the heat. There's the standard zaru soba for dip-able fun, but the composed cold noodles bowls are the thing to get, with many loaded with thoughtfully composed ingredients, like the Inaba, which comes with various types of seaweed, quail egg, bonito flakes and an immersion of light soy broth that's addictive and delicious. And the best part is that tensile, firm texture of the buckwheat noodles that are cooked to an al dente-like perfection. Hot soba bowls and sides like the small rice dishes topped with globular salmon roe are nice departures from the cold soba. Limited hours and cash only.

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Jidaiya | Photo by Matthew Kang

Jidaiya



The ramen restaurant from the folks behind the izakaya Torihei, Jidaiya is a rather straightforward ramenya with above-average results at a very affordable price. The standard tonkotsu has a strong pork flavor and a choice of thick or thin noodles, but the spicy ramen might be the thing to get, topped with crunchy bean sprouts and laced with dangerous spice. The tsukemen is also noteworthy, where these thick noodles die hard in the immense pork-and-fish broth. Jidaiya might also be recognized as having one of the most impressive non-alcoholic beer selections in the city.

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Mentai squid butter pasta at Marugame Monzo | Photo by Matthew Kang

Marugame Monzo



Located in Little Tokyo, Marugame Monzo aspires to make some of the best udon noodles in L.A. An impressive display of fresh noodle making is on display behind the counter, where cooks roll dough and delicately slice the strands of udon for curious diners to observe. The results on the menu blend traditional Japanese dishes with a healthy dose of Italian flavors for something for nearly any noodle lover. The most impressive choice might be the cod roe-infused mentai squid butter pasta, tossed with a thick, salty sauce and topped with shredded seaweed. There's hot bowls of udon topped with any selection of toppings, including fried tempura batter, as well as some cold noodles mixed with daikon, scallions, and bonito flakes. Most of the dishes can completely customized to order, which makes it easy to accommodate anyone.

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Cold soba at Yabu | Photo by Matthew Kang

Yabu Restaurant



A hidden gem in West Los Angeles, Yabu makes some of the finest noodles in this part of town. The udon and soba are all made in house, and come in a variety of hot and cold versions. One udon bowl comes covered with umami-rich seaweed, full of nutrients and tasty to boot. It's best slurped without hesitation. The cold soba comes in a number of combinations, which makes pairing it with the delectable tempura more than necessary. The buckwheat noodles are firm, dense, and strong with the earthy flavor of the grain. There's also plenty of sushi options for those looking for fresh fish.