The chef, Shinsuke Horinouch, previously worked in real estate in Tokyo. He decided to move to Los Angeles and open a ramen shop.Quite a change, but with great results thus far.
The shop itself is small, but has a very warm atmosphere with a few tables and a bar overlooking an open kitchen. The menu features three types of broth, tsukemen, and a number of appetizers.
One of the appetizers I've tried is this curried beef bowl served over rice with pickled ginger. Good, but I'm not really into beef.
This dish, called Kotoya-ko on the menu, features cold tofu served with two different garnishes. The preparation on the right is served with tempura batter crumbs, adding a great crunch. The version on the left has a chili sauce and green onions. Simple, light, and refreshing -an excellent dish.
Though I haven't tried them yet, the plates of gyoza and karaage (Japanese style friend chicken) look great.
I've tried all four of Kotoya's ramen broths. This is the miso broth, which has been my favorite. Great miso flavor and a bit of spice. The noodles have are nicely al dente with a bit of chew. The chasu (pork loin) is very tender. Green onions, bean sprouts, and nori sheets round out the ramen. I also recommend adding an egg, preferably the half boiled version.
Next is the shio (salt) broth, which is the lightest of the broths. Probably my least favorite, but not bad by any means.
I've also tried the shoyu (soy sauce) and red ramen. The shoyu ramen has a nice depth of flavor. For the red ramen, you can specify if you want spice level one, two, or three. I tried it at level two and didn't think it was too spicy.
Tsukemen has started showing up a lot more lately. In tsukemen, the broth is served separately from the rest of the dish. The noodles are then dipped into the broth as they are eaten. The noodels used here are slightly thicker than the noods used for the ramen. I only tried the tsukemen during Kotoya's soft opening, so I'll have to try it again sometime soon, but I remember it being decent. The broth was a bit tangy.
I'm glad that Kotoya opened close by. The chef and his staff obviously work very hard. After soft opening, they weren't happy with the product, so the restaurant was shut down for a few days while they got things rights. Its really nice to see such care put into a simple ramen shop. Kotoya now seems to always have a steady stream of customers.
Kotoya Japanese Ramen