At E.A.K. Ramen, the noodles are the centerpiece, but the succulent broth and a choice of meat-centric and healthy vegetarian ingredients are certainly crowd pleasers too. Along with ekei-style ramen, gyoza, and other appetizers, there’s a full cocktail menu, buns, and desserts, too. But still – it all starts with the noodle.
The cozy restaurant specializes in the wider, thicker noodle of iekei ramen, and rich broths that combine the tonkotsu and shoyu traditions. Not familiar with those flavor traditions? Tonkotsu ramen originated in the Fukuoka prefecture in Japan, and is made with simmered pork marrow bones rendered into a thick and creamy broth. Shoyu ramen refers to a soy sauce base, and the broth is clear, dark, and sweeter. In either case, the actual taste of the broth depends on what is called “tare,” a frequently secret recipe of concentrated sauce that contributes to the flavor of the broth.
At E.A.K., the broth is made with chicken and pork bones in meat-centric versions, and of deliciously rich vegetables in the veg ramen offerings. Either way, the broth takes more than 18 hours of careful preparation to perfect, and here the tare recipe is top secret, the flavor distinctly bold and aromatic.
E.A.K. Ramen has franchises under a variety of names worldwide but only two of 400 stores are in the U.S. – one about to open in New York, and one thriving right here on Melrose Ave. The name refers to the phonetic pronunciation of the IEKEI style of ramen, according to store staff.
The Los Angeles menu supports LA sensibilities with an inclusive array of ramen dining options. The original E.A.K. Shoyu bowl is a blend of chicken and pork broth with seasoned egg, spinach, and nori, and features pork chashu, or marinated braised pork belly, redolent and flavorful in its own right. The Zebra adds butter and umami garlic oil to a shio broth base for an even more delightfully pungent flavor. The Oh So Hot miso broth selection makes things zing with its spicy miso and ground chicken, bean sprouts, cabbage, and sesame oil along with pork chashu, spinach, nori, and seasoned egg.
Not a carnivore? No worries at E.A.K., where veg delights are also plentiful. The Go Green! Miso Ramen features thinner noodles in vegetable broth, with seasoned egg, soy milk, kabocha squash, baby corn, cabbage, bean sprouts, and tomato among its ingredients. As a final touch, there’s a red chili pepper garnish for spice. The Green House Shoyu style ramen also offers thin noodles in a vegetable broth base, and adds lotus root, cabbage, bean sprouts, baby corn, small tomatoes, pungent radish sprouts, and kabocha squash to the broth. The Green House is not just vegetarian, it’s vegan, and is as healthy as it is vibrant with flavor. But wait, there’s more for vegetable lovers. Also vegan, the V-garden adds red and yellow paprika, tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, celery, garlic, and radish sprouts to thin noodles in Shio vegetable broth.
Extra toppings can be added, too, from kimchi to Brussel sprouts, cilantro, or spicy leeks among other choices.
And though it seems like sacrilege at a justifiably famous ramen house, if noodles and broth are not your thing, E.A.K. Ramen has salads, buns, and other appetizers, too. There are do-it-yourself spicy salmon and avocado hand rolls, a shrimp cutlet bao with housemade tartar sauce, and ginger gyoza stuffing in a bun with sweet honey mustard sauce. There’s a braised pork belly bun, too. Try a Superfood Salad with baby kale, seaweed and spinach among its ingredients; or opt for crispy burdock root Gobo chips, an excellent crunchy side.
To drink, there are a number of tasty brews including E.A.K.’s own light house lager, but more interesting are cocktails made with beer, wine, or sake. The refreshing Sweet Snow blends Nigori sake with simple syrup and lemon. For dessert, try the mochi ice cream in inventive flavors such as black sesame, or the tart, citrus Yuzu sorbet.
At E.A.K. ramen – it’s indeed all about the noodles – and the succulent broth, pork, veggies, and so much more. Get ready to slurp.
7455 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046