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Cheap Eats in LA: Best ramen in LA under $10

Sip, chew and slurp the tastiest cheap eats in LA with your guide to the best ramen in LA for under $10

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Tokushima ramen at Men Oh Ramen

Cheap eats aren't hard to find in this town. With an explosion of ramen joints from West LA to the South Bay, you don't have to look far (or fork over much) for your next noodle bowl. Whether you like your broth tonkotsu (pork), miso, shoyu (soy) or shio (salt) flavored, or are in the mood for ramen from Tokushima or any other given part of Japan, noodle options are aplenty on a budget. We've picked out ten of our favorite ramen spots with under-$10 bowls worth slurping.


RECOMMENDED: Cheap eats in Los Angeles

Our favorite budget ramen spots

Jidaiya

Critics' pick

This tiny South Bay ramen shop seems to fill up almost the second it opens its doors for lunch. While you can’t go wrong with any of the offerings here, we recommend the excellent tonkotsu shoyu ramen ($6.95), pork and soy sauce-based broth served with thick, heavy noodles. Try adding a little fresh garlic for some zing—if you’re feeling particularly DIY, ask for a garlic press, so you can mash your own clove of garlic. Add a side of the U.F.O. Gyoza ($4.25), half a dozen dumplings pan-fried together to create one massive, standout plate.

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Torrance

Jinya Ramen Bar

It seems as though you can't drive in any direction in LA without stumbling upon at least one ramen joint boasting about its tonkotsu broth—pork bones simmered for hours to create a viscous soup. Despite all the new shops spouting up in the city, one of the earliest tonkotsu specialists is still the best. Jinya offers a full slate of pork-based ramen, all of which smack strong with not only pork, but also what someone there might tell you is an "industrial" amount of dashi (Japanese soup base) and dried fish. Purists can order the Tonkotsu Assari ($8.80) to appreciate the remarkable umami of this soup. For the adventurous, there’s the Tonkotsu Spicy ($10.80), which stays true to its name. Locations include Studio City, Mid-Wilshire, Santa Monica, Hollywood and Burbank.

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Studio City

Men Oh Tokushima Ramen

Critics' pick

While Little Tokyo hasn’t had the same influx of new ramen shops that other parts of the city have experienced, you'll still find a new place or two if you look hard enough. Case in point: Men Oh Ramen, tucked away in Honda Plaza. A small shop with a handful of tables and a long bar, Men Oh hails from the Tokushima region of Japan, where the dominant industry is pig farming. Thus, the signature item, the Tokushima Ramen ($8.95), is an unctuous, deeply pork-flavored bowl, with toppings that include not only lovely slices of tender chashu, but also strips of stir-fried butabara pork. Those additions, plus the pork bone and soy sauce-based broth, make this bowl one of the more complex ones in town.

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Little Tokyo

Ramen Hayatemaru

Critics' pick

Ramen Hayatemaru’s ramen menu is short—just seven types of ramen, including tsukemen. Of these, the white miso bowl ($9.80), with its creamy, nicely salted broth, is a standout, and the rich jjigae ramen ($8.50) is worth a try if you’re curious to taste Korean mashed with Japanese in a bowl. There are also half-sizes on offer for $6.50-$6.95, perfect for those with small appetites or to pair with a side of pan-fried gyoza ($3.90, 6 pieces) or fried chicken ($3.90, 6 pieces). Hayatemaru also has a second outpost in West LA.

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The Harbor

Ramen Iroha

Critics' pick

Ramen Iroha is located in the food court of the Marukai supermarket food court in Torrance, and, like Santouka, is a big step above your usual food court fare. Iroha's Black Ramen is the bowl to order here ($7.95), and black it is, thanks mostly to a hefty amount of soy sauce, black pepper and fermented black beans. If seeing noodles disappear under such dark waters seems daunting, there’s no need to fear: This is a chicken-based broth, after all, so it’ll turn out to be lighter than you anticipated, with a pleasant sourness around the edges that you likely didn't expect, either. Welcome to the dark side.

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The Harbor

Ramen Yamadaya

Sawtelle Boulevard may be home to a large number of new ramen shops, but other parts of the Westside are starting to see their fair share, too. With locations in Culver City and Westwood, Ramen Yamadaya is quickly gaining quite the foothold in its respective neighborhoods, and it’s just as popular as any noodle joint along Sawtelle. Twenty hours of simmering pork bones is what goes into Yamadaya’s signature tonkotsu (pork) broth, forming the base for one of the creamiest, cleanest, porkiest bowls of tonkotsu ramen in town ($8.25). The thin noodles work well here; you’ll slurp them up much too quickly for them to lose their bite. Don’t miss the dip-and-slurp tsukemen ($8.45 for a 7-ounce bowl, $9.95 for a 14-ounce bowl), which is equally as good.

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Culver City

Santouka Ramen

This Japan-based chain has many stateside locations, including two Los Angeles outposts, oddly enough located in Mitsuwa supermarkets’ food courts, prompting folks to refer to Santouka as the McDonald’s of ramen joints. The analogy does a bit of a disservice to the noodle spot: This certainly is fast food ramen, but a bowl of Santouka's shio (salt) ramen ($6.99) is better than a 20-piece box of nuggets on any day of week. The broth is a blend of pork stock—pork bones simmered some 20 hours—and seafood, seasoned crucially with a bit of salt to create a mild, almost creamy base. Chewy, curly noodles and a pickled Japanese plum complete a great bowl. Remember to hit the ATM machine before stopping by this cash-only joint.

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Mar Vista

Shin-Sen-Gumi Hakata Ramen

Upon entering this Hakata-based chain, you’ll be met with a chorus of “Irashi”. You’ll then be handed an order sheet, where you can customize your bowl ($6.95) to your exact specifications—choose the intensity (i,e. saltiness) of your broth, the doneness of your noodles and toppings (egg, garlic chips, even spare rib)—and combine chicken rice balls, deep fried cheese egg rolls and gyoza additions ($2.75-$4.25). Half the fun is ordering too many toppings on your first visit, which will arrive one after another in a parade of bowls.

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Little Tokyo

Tsujita

Critics' pick

Much digital ink has been spilled over Tsujita’s tsukemen($9.95): how kurobuta pork bones are simmered for no less than 60 hours to create the dipping broth,how the noodles are thick, toothy, dense and how ramen is served only at lunch, so that the wait for a seat can fluctuate between tolerable and formidable (unless you’re dining solo, in which case, you’ll be seated at the counter in no more than 15 minutes). Suffice to say, in a rare instance of hype living up to reality, all that ink bleeds true—this is the best tsukemen in the city. This West LA spot’s noodle bowl is the one to which you’ll forever compare all others, much to your chagrin. Because after you’ve eaten here, you’ll be resigned to the fact that when the mood for tsukemen strikes, you’ll have no choice but to go to Tsujita. Put your name down. And wait…and wait. It’ll be worth it.

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West LA

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