A line for a restaurant doesn’t really mean much. Go to any Cheesecake Factory in town if you don’t believe me. But in the case of Daikokuya in Downtown LA’s Little Tokyo, the long wait is a legit sign.
Our wait was 45 minutes (it was a Thursday night at 8pm), but well worth it. We had the signature Daikoko Ramen, which comes with very tender strips of black pork belly with a pleasing amount of fat–you can request extra back fat if you’re interested. The broth is nice and opaquely thick, and it should be considering it’s cooked down all night and then mixed with Daikokuya’s own soup base and soy sauce mixture.
Usually I’m all about the broth, but I was actually more into the noodles, which were extra springy and chewy. I hate when you get a bowl full of mushy noodles. Bamboo shoots, green onions and bean sprouts are also in the mix. There’s also a marinated egg that’s easy to be scared of, but face your fears because it’s actually a nice touch, though less “marinated” than I thought it would be.
As satisfying as the ramen was, for me, the highlight of the meal was the gyoza, for sure. I’m a gyoza maniac, and these were easily the best I’ve had. They didn’t have the crescent shape I’m used to; instead they looked like flat little burritos, filled with pork, pan fried and covered in a mountain of green onions for extra zing. I grabbed for the one that was super fried and extra crispy….heavenly. (see photo at the top of this post).
The slaw they give you at the beginning of the meal is worth mentioning. The sauce was very tangy, but I recommend mixing it all up, or it gets too dry. It’s nothing to write home about, but it’s a nice touch, especially you’ve been waiting in line for hour.
A note to vegetarians: there are no substitutions here and very few meatless options. If you go carnivore on special occasions, this might be the place to do it. If you’re on the stricter side, go a few doors down to Mr. Ramen, where the ramen is solid and there are lots of choices for veggies like you.