>> Jidaiya Ramen Dining | Eat the World Los Angeles

Monday, 30 December 2019

Jidaiya Ramen Dining

JAPAN 🇯🇵

A few years back, five minutes south on Western Avenue, a restaurant named Torihei famous for its yakitori and oden became such a success that the owner felt passionate about opening another with a different focus. Not a ramen master by trade, Sasaki Masakazu is still the type of professional that can pull things like that off, and thus Jidaiya was born.

Impressions and feeling were a big part of the draw here in addition to the food. It has not changed much since opening in the spring of 2012, care is taken to make you feel like walking into not only a comfortable neighborhood ramen joint, but also into a bit of a time warp. This is done on every surface with posters and signs, fabric and materials.


Jidaiya has accomplished itself on many city-wide or South Bay lists, but it was never really intended for that. Gardena and Torrance are full of similar small family-run businesses where wow factor is not the first goal, but rather to welcome those that live nearby and create a place that offers an economical and supremely satisfying meal.

Ramen aficionados might come here and be disappointed by their bowl, for there is a wide breadth of options and some can admittedly be hit or miss. Some might say that the kitchen attempts too many styles and fails to master them, but this is by design and not the appropriate way to approach a meal here. There is rarely a long wait, so come hungry, settle into the warmth of the restaurant, and enjoy.


A perfect start to a meal might be with the takoyaki ($5.80, above), deep fried balls of octopus that are covered with a lather of slightly sweet takoyaki sauce and a thorough slashing of Japanese mayonnaise. The bits of octopus are combined with wheat flour batter before molded in a special pan.

The most popular appetizer based on looking around at the neighbors was their UFO gyoza, which are cooked in a pan so that an impossibly small layer of batter connects all the dumplings with an irresistibly crunchy blanket. Served upside down, the flat crunchy connector is the first thing you see and have to attack.


On this night the table was more in the mood for the fried gyoza dumplings ($4.80, above), another method of experiencing the same tastes and textures. Whichever choice you go for, the crunch is a perfect complement to a ramen meal because of the great contrast in mouthfeel.

In a move that can be enjoyable and overwhelming at the same time, the ramen menu is separated by region, with the highest concentrations on Sapporo, Tokyo, and Yokohama styles. They also do what they call neo-Tokyo style, and have a few bowls listed under their own name and reflective of the chef's creativity.


Chef-owner Sasaki Masakazu has went back to Japan and left the shops in the capable hands of his team, but as mentioned the bowls can be hit or miss and it could take a while to find the right one for yourself. When you do though, the place becomes somewhere you crave to be over and over.

The once standard-bearer bowl of tonkotsu has unfortunately lost its flare since the departure of Sasaki-san, and the high LA praise for the bowl of Tokyo yatai shoyu ramen might be misplaced, but there are better options like the dip ramen ($11.95, above), a delightful bowl of thick noodles served tsukemen-style with the hot broth on the side for dipping. The noodles are topped with chashu, egg, bamboo, seaweed, and bonito.


Also using the thick, springy noodles and possibly the most interesting offering is the kai-shio ramen ($12.95, above), found on the neo-Tokyo portion of the menu. This is a seafood soup with turban shell, abalone, asari clam, scallops, flying fish roe, and seaweed. It is briny and tastes of the sea, definitely enjoyable to lovers of these tastes.

Slipped to the bottom of one page, but definitely not an afterthought, even the vegetable ramen ($9.95, below) is quite good here. The tomato-based broth uses bordock root and is full of sweet peppers and broccoli, all over a thinner wavy noodle that is appropriately picked for this rendition.


A page of Jidaiya "originals" is also worth exploring for unconventional options like the garlic tan-tan men ($9.95, below), a bowl that arrives looking like molten lava. This is a shio (salt) style ramen using the thick noodles once again. Ground chicken, egg, and garlic are all hiding underneath the top layer of chicken broth, presented without garnish.

Tan-tan men is a descendent of the Sichuan dan dan noodles, here only slightly spicy but fueled more by sesame paste and the namesake garlic.



Each lift of noodles pulls up just the right amount of broth and egg with it, creating a deeply satisfying bowl when in the mood for this type of thing.

Even if you come from another part of the city, Jidaiya is the type of place that makes you feel like a regular, wanting to come back more. Nothing here is going to make the jukebox scratch to a halt when eaten, but as already mentioned this is not the intention. For what it is, there are few places better to sit down with a couple friends and enjoy each other's company over warming bowls of noodles.

🇯🇵🇯🇵🇯🇵
GARDENA South Bay
18537 S. Western Avenue

No comments:

Post a comment