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Orochon Ramen, Little Tokyo, Los Angeles


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Since we've been to Daikokuya and love the ramen there, we decided to test the product at its surrounding competitors. So we visited Orochon Ramen, located between 1st and 2nd streets behind the Kyoto Grand Hotel. OR was featured on an episode of "Man vs. Food," where Adam needed to finish a bowl of Special 2 Ramen within 30 minutes to be memorialized on OR's Wall of Bravery.

To order, first select the type of broth from the three options OR offers: soy sauce (shoyu), miso or salt (shio). Then choose a spiciness level, which ranges from Level 1 (mild or not spicy) to Level 7 (extremely spicy). Beyond Level 7 are two special levels, 1 and 2, which will apparently burn off the taste buds on your tongue. After selecting the spiciness level, choose any extras to include in your custom made ramen order. Options include cha shu pork slices, hard boiled egg, corn, extra scallions, extra noodles, bamboo shoots, garlic and butter.

On this trip, I ordered shio ramen in Level 4, with two pieces of char sui pork and an egg. Level 4 is considered middle of the road, not too spicy, and not too bland. It was a mixture of noodles, vegetables, wood ear mushrooms, bamboo shoots, scallions and small pieces of pork swimming in a big bowl of steaming broth. At first taste, or slurp, I found the broth to be flavorful and just a little spicy, and wondered if I had enough nerve to try a Special 2. I was disappointed with the noodles, or lack thereof. Everything else in the bowl was so-so, except for the char sui pork pieces that I ordered in addition to the ramen. The pork was melt-in-your-mouth tender and flavorful - it better be, at $1.50 each. I definitely prefer the Daikokuya version.

We also ordered the gyoza dumplings, but quite frankly, it was pretty mediocre. In fact, the entire Orochon experience was pretty mediocre, despite the crowd. I would have much rather waited in line for a counter seat at Daikokuya.