Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Best Ramen Bowls in LA #2: Umenoya Ramen Co.

Looking at the Discover Los Angeles article on the "The Best Ramen Bowls in LA", it was definitely hard to find which restaurant I should visit next.  The list covers a great deal of geographical distance and a lot of the places that I want to explore are across the county.  That being said, whenever I plan on being in those areas, I try and make it out to one of the joints.  With that, I ventured down to Torrance and went to Umenoya Ramen Co located on 24222 Crenshaw Blvd in Torrance CA.

This was actually my second visit to Umenoya and I had an amazing time the first time I went.  Last time I ordered their Jiro Ramen which was a massive bowl that contained a grand amount of Napa Cabbage and bean sprouts.  It was delicious.  However, today I ordered their Spicy Miso Ramen as it was recommended in the article.

The Spicy Miso Ramen came with three pieces of slow-cooked chashu (pork belly), a flavored boiled egg, chopped onions both white and green, bean sprouts, Napa Cabbage, leeks and shredded dried chili pepper.  I also ordered mine with a preference of having firm noodles.  Because I ordered Combo C, it included a small order of gyoza (potstickers) and a karaage (Japanese fried chicken) rice bowl.  However, I won't be writing about those because those have nothing to do with ramen.

This bowl was absolutely fantastic (you're going to hear me say that word often, almost as if I was channeling my inner "Ninth Doctor").  Despite being an oily looking broth, the soup was just amazing, it had this surprising kick of spice that accentuated the pork bone and miso based flavors.  What I really loved about the bowl was the different textures that came with it.  The chewiness of the noodles, the clean and crisp crunch of the cabbage and the onions, and the melts-in-your-mouth pork belly.  Each bite was different depending on what elements were added.  The pork belly was so soft that you could cut through it just by using the chopsticks, indicative of a long slow-cooked process. The flavors were also so good.  The rich and flavorful soup combined with the clean and crisp cabbage and onions with a slight kick from the garlic and the chili, all made for a well-rounded bowl.  None of the flavors were overpowering, rather carefully measured and allocated in order to complement each other.  Another highlight was biting into the egg, it was sweet almost like caramel that made for a fantastic contrast to the bowl.  It was also perfect in the sense that it was also perfectly portioned, there was no craving for additional noodles.

If I could describe the experience of eating this bowl, I would say that it was like descending through layers and layers of flavor till which you rested on this happy place where everything came together.  From the pork bone base to miso to the spice to the clean and crisp vegetables, every bite and slurp took you deeper and deeper until you finished the bowl, content.  Its bowls like this that solidify my dream to finish all the bowls on the list and inspires me to continue to drive around to visit all the restaurants.