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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.

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Cheap Eats in LA: Tokushima ramen at Men Oh Tokushima Ramen

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Cheap Eats in LA: Hakata Ramen at Shin-Sen-Gumi

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Photo courtesy Ramen Jinya

Cheap Eats in LA: Tonkotsu ramen at Jinya Ramen Bar

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Photograph: Benny Haddad

Cheap Eats in LA: Tsukemen ramen at Tsujita

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Photograph: Victor Leung

Cheap Eats in LA: White miso ramen at Ramen Hayatemaru

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Photograph: Victor Leung

Cheap Eats in LA: Black ramen at Ramen Iroha

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Photograph: Victor Leung

Cheap Eats in LA: Shoyu ramen at Jidaiya

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Photograph: Victor Leung

Cheap Eats in LA: Ramen with miso and buttered corn toppings at Mottainai Ramen

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Photograph: Wayne Parsons

Cheap Eats in LA: Shio ramen at Santouka Ramen

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Photograph: Wayne Parsons

Cheap Eats in LA: Tonkotsu ramen at Ramen Yamadaya

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, old and new, with under-$10 bowls worth slurping.


RECOMMENDED: See more Best restaurants in Los Angeles.

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…andnd wait. It’ll be worth it.

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West L.A.

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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West L.A.

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 Original ($8.55) to appreciate the remarkable umami of this soup. For the adventurous, there’s the Tonkotsu Red ($10.55), which takes its name from the daunting amount of red chili oil liberally applied to the broth.

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West L.A.

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 spam onigiri (rice ball), chicken meatball and gyoza additions ($5.50-$7.75). 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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Downtown

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 ($7.95). 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 7-oz. bowl, $9.95 for 14-oz. bowl), which is equally as good.

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Culver City

Jidaiya

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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South Bay

Mottainai Ramen

With the option to add a “Red Bomb!” or “White Bomb!” to your ramen bowl, it’s hard to not at least consider doing so—go with your instinct and bomb away at this Gardena strip mall ramen joint. The Red Bomb is a packed ball of chiles, while the White Bomb is a thick ball of pork fat and garlic paste, and both literally are flavor bombs for your soup. Other fun additions listed on the anime-themed menu include buttered corn and meat-filled wontons, all of which go especially well with the Sapporo Miso Lover ($7.80).

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South Bay

Ramen Iroha

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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South Bay

Men Oh Tokushima Ramen

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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Downtown

Ramen Hayatemaru

Ramen Hayatemaru’s ramen menu is short—just seven types of ramen, including tsukemen. Of these, the white miso bowl ($8.50), 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 just $5.50, perfect for those with small appetites or to pair with a side of pan-fried gyoza ($2.90, 6 pieces) or fried chicken ($2.90, 5 pieces). Hayatemaru just opened its second outpost in West Los Angeles, a long, sleek shop soon to be jam-packed with ramen-aniacs in no time.

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South Bay

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