If a bowl of ramen with pork chashu draped all around the rim, much like a shrimp cocktail, sounds like your kind of thing, head over to Ramen Maruya in Little Tokyo. Even if you’re vegan or suffer from celiac disease, you can still eat happily at Ramen Maruya. Located in the Japanese Village Plaza, Maruya serves Hakata-style ramen, thin noodles in a rich pork bone broth, along with sushi, rice bowls and combination plates. They even make their noodles -two different kinds of ramen noodles, udon and soba – in-house, which is pretty rare these days.
In addition to their fresh noodles, Ramen Maruya has the distinction of offering a vegetarian ramen, right down to the rich and flavorful vegetarian broth. The Vegetable Miso Ramen comes topped with corn, bean sprouts, scallions, seaweed and tomatoes, an unusual touch.
For those non-vegetarians, there’s the Tonkotsu Ramen and Miso Ramen, both in a tasty pork broth, with chashu, beans sprouts, egg, seaweed and scallions. The chashu here is sliced very thin, so the pieces are quite delicate, and the pork fat not quite as overwhelming as some other ramen places. I liked that the broth didn’t have a layer of fat shining on the surface, which always seems a bit off-putting as if to remind you, “Hey! You’re about to dig into a big bowl of molten pork fat!”
If you really like chashu, there’s the Chashu Ramen where pork chashu is draped all around the rim of the bowl. It’s pretty over-the-top, even for me, and seems to be their claim to fame – so popular, that at least a quarter of the customers will be eating it.
Not in the mood for ramen? There’s sushi and several combination plates and bowls from which you can choose. The Katsu Don, a fried pork cutlet with egg and sauce, sits on top of a mountain of rice. Unfortunately, the katsu gets a little soggy from all the egg and sauce and loses its crispness. A couple of pieces of pickled radish came with it, which was a nice touch.
If you’re in Little Tokyo, Ramen Maruya is a decent alternative to the long waits that will face you at Daikokuya and Marugame Monzo across the street. The menu here is a lot more extensive too, so chashu ramen lovers and their vegetarian and gluten-free friends can dine together in harmony.
Location: 104 Japanese Village Plaza Mall Los Angeles, CA 90012
Website – http://ramenmaruya.com
Kid-Friendly – Yes
Kid’s Menu – No
Pesco-Vegetarian Friendly – Yes
Vegetarian Friendly – Yes
Vegan Friendly – Yes
Gluten-Free Options – Yes