If you don’t want your run-of-the-mill ramen, then Iki Ramen is a must-stop. Although they do have your traditional bowls on the menu like shio, shoyu, tonkotsu, etc., nothing about their ramen is what you’d expect. You’d think a restaurant with the word “ramen” in the name would only specialize in ramen, but Iki is one of the best and most underrated experiences in Los Angeles.
Jeffry Undiarto, who is the general manager and sake sommelier at Michelin-starred restaurant n/naka, partnered with childhood friend Sabastian Karyadi and chefs Hiroyuki Masato and Andy Juliady to open one of the most exciting restaurants in L.A. So skip the Michelin-starred prices at n/naka and venture over to Iki Ramen for their new tasting menu, which includes an eight-course meal at $70 per person, with an optional $15 sake pairing.
“We are very excited for our guests to try it because I think our tasting menu will showcase our thoughts, and guests will be able to get the perfect amount of food for each course,” says Undiarto.
It’s true, Iki Ramen does serve ramen, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. When it comes to their ramen, nothing is traditional. One of their most popular items is the yuzu shio ramen. The unique sea salt ramen broth, complemented by house dashi, yuzu zest and yuzu juice topped with fatty pork belly, scallions, and fermented bamboo shoots, makes it one of L.A.’s most talked about dishes.
“Our shio ramen is something special for us at Iki. We can eat this ramen every day. It's double soup stock with Jidori chicken bone broth and our house-made dashi. You can feel the work, technique and precision that goes into making this ramen broth. You'll taste the delicate, savory flavors from our house-made dashi and tasty chicken flavors from our Jidori chicken bone,” said Undiarto.
Iki also has a vegan spicy miso ramen prepared with their house-made miso blend, a broth-less mazemen, burnt garlic tonkotsu, and even an A5 Miyazaki Wagyu ramen, among a list of other tasty and unique dishes.
But the new tasting menu is the cream of the crop—you really get to taste the brilliance of the chefs. No need to wait weeks or months for an expensive reservation, and it’s easily one of the best meals in L.A.
“We are proud of all our menu items because we put so much effort [into] how we make it, and work very hard to source the best possible ingredients we can while keeping it affordable,” said Undiarto.
So, what’s on the tasting menu this season? The meal starts off with a burrata with pickled tomatoes, yuzu, olive oil, honey truffle and sea salt. Then diners move on to a deconstructed takoyaki with salmon wasabi, and uni and ikura rice. Next up, there’s an arugula salad with hamachi sashimi, Japanese pear, radish, nori, yuzu and sesame. It’s followed by a delectable softshell crab wrapped in butter lettuce, spicy aioli, scallions and a garlic ponzu sauce. The menu rounds out with Hokkaido scallops with uni, shimeji and truffle butter dashi; a melt-in-your-mouth A5 Wagyu ramen; and a blue crab hand roll. The dessert course is unique and delicious, as well. The shio koji ice cream is their take on sea salt caramel. It tastes like a very rich yet creamy ice cream with hints of caramel. Shio koji is fermented rice, but don’t let that deter you. It’s the perfect dessert to end the tasting menu.
If you're ordering à la carte from the regular menu, Iki’s fatty A5 Wagyu ramen is a clear winner and a must-try. The broth is extremely flavorful, and the A5 Wagyu meat from Japan’s Miyazaki Prefecture (the highest grade of Japanese beef, known for its marbling) melts in your mouth. It is paired with an onsen tamago, a perfectly poached egg in shoyu beef bone broth, menma (dried and fermented bamboo shoots), onions and scallions.
The fresh burrata with salmon, pickled tomato, yuzu, olive oil, sea salt and honey truffle is also a crowd favorite. The cheese is creamy, sweet and refreshing.
Another dish not part of the tasting menu, but that is worth ordering, is Iki’s uni mazemen ramen with mentaiko (Pollock roe) and dashi ikura. Mazemen is a soup-less variety of ramen. Iki’s uni mazemen is creamy without being overly rich, perfect for the uni lover.
If you still have room, another one of Iki’s must-order desserts is their delectable semisweet, black sesame crème brulée, served with small scoops of matcha or yuzu ice cream and topped with organic palm sugar. Although the tasting menu is a great way to try some of Iki Ramen’s best dishes, you’ll be just as satisfied ordering a la carte from the regular menu.
You can visit Iki Ramen at 740 S. Western Ave., Ste. #116, Los Angeles, CA 90005.