In 2014, Melrose became host to the best new ramen restaurant in Los Angeles. Tatsu Ramen, the life passion of Tokyo native Ryu Isobe, brings traditional Japanese ramen to LA. Tatsu means dragon in Japanese and Ryu, being born in the Year of the Dragon, found the perfect name for his restaurant.
Walking into Tatsu is like walking into the future. Instead of waiting in a long line at a counter, or ordering with a server that could possible forget something, Smart tablets line the interior wall. Each customer places their order from the simple menu that list 6 types of ramen, 3 rice side dishes, pork buns and, most recently, the ramen burger… don’t ask questions, just order it!
Being a bit of a traditionalist, and somewhat of a ramen snob, I ordered the “Bold Ramen” and steamed pork buns. There are a few customizations available (egg yolk, extra onions, extra meat), but I stuck to the original recipe. Feeling a little bit like I was in a Star Trek movie, I swiped my card on the tablet and it spit out a receipt for my order with instructions to show it to the cashier. She took my receipt and I was directed to one of the long communal tables inside. This style of seating made it easy to ask my fellow diners which ramen they ordered, and how they liked it.
After about 5 minutes, my ramen and pork buns arrived! I realized that I had ordered way too much food, but based on the rich garlic scent wafting up from the bowl, I knew I had made the right choice.
Savory and decadent, with a hint of sweet spice, I was in ramen heaven! But, the true star of the meal was the pork bun. Soft, light and fluffy dough, made onsite, was wrapped around tender juicy pork, green onions and romaine lettuce, along with a “secret sauce” I’ll kill to get the recipe for. It was large enough to be a light meal on its own, but paired perfectly with the ramen.
Little encouragements lined the inside of the ramen bowl telling me, “Keep going!” and “You’re almost to the bottom!” I wasn’t able to finish the entire serving, but took it to go and got to read the adorable anime style comic on the side of the bag telling Ryu’s story of success.
If you’re new to ramen, or an old-timer like myself, Tatsu is a must! Fast, fresh and delicious, I’ll definitely be returning to try every flavor on the menu… and probably another pork bun too!
Visit Tatsu Ramen:
7111 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046
Sun – Wed: 11am-2am
Thu – Sat: 11am-3am
They also offer 1 hour of free parking the rear of the building. Or, you can order online: www.tatsuramen.com