When the night time weather dips below 50 in Los Angeles, all I can think about is a big bowl of noodle soup. The first place that comes to mind is always Daikokuya in Little Tokyo, but the wait can be debilitating when I am in need of a dire fix. Chin-ma-ya was filed away in the back of my head, but my friend's words "they never have a line and the ramen is good" popped into my head and made it an easy choice.
This Japanese restaurant is right below Orochon Ramen in Little Tokyo. The parking genie was on our side and landed us a parking spot underneath the building during lunch rush. We walked our way up to the second floor and before stepping into the restaurant, it was apparent several customers were waiting for a table. Although there were three tables ahead of us, it took less than 10 minutes to be seated. The waitress apologized for the wait and handed us the menu. Since the restaurant is know for tan-tan men, I knew I had to order it.
The ramen arrived in a deep bowl with plenty of chili oil sitting in a broth made with pork, chicken, and sesame paste. With three levels of spiciness to choose from on the menu and a fourth one off the menu, I decided to give the hidden level a try. The level four was spicy, but not overwhelming. The ground meat was seasoned well with a hint of sweetness, but sparse and disappeared quickly. The generous amount of curly noodles were on the thinner side and cooked al dente. The broth was saltier than I would have liked, but it satisfied my noodle cravings.
Fried chicken served with chili mayo sauce. The batter was crunchy and the chicken was moist. The flavors were right on and I wished for a little more mayo. The ramen and kara-age combination is available for $9.60, which is a good deal because the portions are the same.
Overall, the kara-age is tasty and the ramen is satisfactory. Chin-Ma-Ya would not be my substitute for Daikokuya, but if someone wanted to go, I would gladly order some kara-age. If I had to choose between Chin-Ma-Ya and Orochon, I would choose Chin-Ma-Ya any day. The service was attentive and friendly and the restaurant is very cozy.
3 out of 5 Stars
Chin-Ma-Ya of Tokyo
123 Astronaut Ellison S Onizuka St
Weller Court, 2F
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Small parking lot underneath the building. Free with 1 hour validation from restaurant.