After your morning of custom coffee, architecture appreciation and Asian pop culture, it's time for lunch at the neighborhood's most popular restaurant, Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle.
As a sign of the respect garnered by Takehiro Tsujita, ramen wasn’t offered for months after he opened his eponymous restaurant on Sawtelle in August 2011. But as soon as Tsujita started serving tsukemen (dipping ramen), ramen fanatics immediately flocked to Sawtelle Japantown in droves. The lunch-only limited availability added to the mystique. The tonkotsu (pork bone) broth is simmered for 60 hours before bonito is added for additional depth of flavor. Thick, chewy noodles are dipped into the dense, syrupy broth and slurped for maximum umami enjoyment.
The Tsujita tsukemen experience is a three-step process. First, enjoy one third of the noodles dipped in the broth. Next, squeeze lime juice over the noodles for a much different flavor profile. Customize the ramen with condiments like sesame, karashi takana (spicy pickled mustard greens) and beni shoga (red pickled ginger). Finally, when you’ve finished the noodles, a server adds hot water to the broth so you can enjoy it like a soup. Besides the basic tsukemen, optional toppings include char siu (barbecued pork), ajitama (seasoned soft boiled egg), nori (seaweed) and men-ma (bamboo shoot).
In April 2013, Tsujita Annex opened across the street, featuring an even porkier version of the signature ramen. This broth is simmered not only with pork bones but also fat, and the results are not for the light-hearted. A mountain of bean sprouts, thick-cut char siu and optional heaps of chopped garlic and/or onikasu (red spice) also differentiate the Annex from the original.