Kaioo Ramen

Kaioo* Ramen opened in the first week of February, replacing an unsuccessful hotpot restaurant.  With the LA ramen revolution in full swing, it’s nice to see some new places to slurp the hot bowls of noodle in the SGV.


On my first visit, I ordered the eponymous Kai Original Ramen bowl in a combo with gyoza.  The ramen came with slick, chewy yellow noodles in a delicious, rich broth.  Unlike other ramen places, the broth is a chicken broth base. The pork chashu topping came chopped up instead of in slices like the picture, but was still decent.  There was also ground pork sprinkled on top, which was a nice touch. My favorite part was the chili and chives mixture, giving eac spoonful of broth a pungent, spicy, taste.  According to the waitress, their style of ramen is Kobe style.


The gyoza that accompanied my ramen catered to the Chinese palate, which is understandable since this ramenya is located in a plaza mostly full of Chinese customers.  Instead of a garlicky filling, it had green onion or chives.  The skin was also surprisingly delicate and soft without being mushy.


After spending a week trying out ramen at other local places, Kaioo Ramen managed managed to perk my interest even then. I’m planning on returning next time for the tsukemen and the spicy chicken ramen.


Kaioo Ramen
1261 E. Valley Blvd.
Alhambra, CA 91801

* There’s some confusion in the name. The menu makes it look like “Kai Ramen” but on Yelp it says Kaioo Ramen. And on the credit card bill, it says Kai Oo Ramen.

Ramen Champ — Long Live The Champ

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Disclaimer: I was invited by a friend to Ramen Champ and did not pay for my meal.

When I first walked into the small ramen restaurant, what caught my eye was the bold black on white drawings on the wall.  If you look carefully, you’ll see a narrative created by noodles.  While plenty of places are nice to look at, I’m glad to say that Ramen Champ has both style and substance. It’s a rare thing to have a place offer vegan ramen. It’s a rarer thing for this place to not only be a normal restaurant offering non-vegan options, but also have one of the best bowls of ramen in LA.

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The tonkotsu ramen here is not for the faint of heart. Literally.  The amount of pork packed into this bowl of ramen should come with a warning label like the ones on roller coasters. The rich soup is less of a broth and more of a porky gravy that coats each strand of chewy noodle to make a perfect mouthful.  The toppings include curling slivers of green onion, crunchy slices of radish, a soft boiled egg, sliced pork belly, and a drizzle of garlic oil.  As much attention should be paid to the flavorful, slightly sweet, soft slices of pork as to the broth.

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Then there’s the soft boiled egg.  Oh, that egg! The soy-seasoned egg easily gives way to a molten yolk that barely manages to stay together.

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On the other end of the spectrum is the vegan ramen*.  I’ve had a lot of vegan ramen in my life and this is the best.  The mushroom broth is seasoned so that the sometimes overwhelming taste of mushroom is brightened and actually tastes like a ramen broth, including that oily mouthfeel.  The toppings — hen of the woods mushroom, seasoned slices of tofu, radish, and green onion, all work to create a cohesive bowl of ramen.  One of the shortcomings I always see in restaurants attempting a vegan ramen is trying to get too creative by throwing kale, broccoli, spinach, or even sesame paste in.  Ramen Champ doesn’t fall into those traps and instead stays focussed on giving vegetarians a taste of what everyone else is eating.

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I would have already been happy if this place offered good ramen, but the non-ramen dishes on the menu were notable as well.  The mushroom tempura has shimeji mushrooms in a delicate and crunchy batter accented with a few shiso leaves.  The vegetable curry (which also happens to be vegan) is made with a fragrant house-made curry powder which is worth trying if you’ve only had the stuff that’s come out of an S&B can.

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Then, if that wasn’t enough, there are also house-made condiments to jazz up the ramen.  For a little heat, try the sriracha infused chili oil, which made my mouth do a double-take.  I heard there will also be a house-made Japanese seven-spice (togarashi) in the future.

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With all these tasty options to order off the menu, and the attention and care put into even minor things like condiments, I won’t be surprised if Ramen Champ ends up having lines like its forerunner, Eggslut.  It does make me sad that this will probably be one of the few times I’ll be able to just stroll in and pull up a stool under the monochromatic mural and slurp a bowl of ramen without having to wait or battle crowds.

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Ramen Champ
727 North Broadway #203
Los Angeles, CA
Ramen Champ

* Normally, this option appears as vegetarian ramen on the menu, but if you’re vegan, make sure to let the server know so that the egg will be left out and the usual noodles will be swapped out for eggless noodles.

Vegan Ramen at Home

#vegan ramen for dinner. Homemade bc it's so hard to get vegan ramen anywhere.

It’s difficult to find good vegan ramen in LA.  It’s easy to find vegetarian ramen, but usually since the noodles have egg in them, it’s hard to find vegan one. There’s Shojin, which has vegan ramen, but it’s expensive for what it is and not that delicious given the price.

Because of this, I made vegan ramen the other night. I received a lot of requests for a recipe after posting a picture of it.  As you know, I’m not so good about measuring things or writing down recipes, but here’s some hand-wavey instructions.  The tofu-like thing was store-bought. I’m not sure if there’s an equivalent in American super markets, but it’s called tofu bao in Chinese super markets and it’s basically tofu skin folded into layers and then deep fried so that the outer layer is nice and crispy.  You can sub in fried tofu, baked tofu, or inari.


  1. Cut the whites of 3-4 scallions into 2 inch pieces.
  2. Cut the stems off 6-7 fresh shiitake mushrooms. (save caps for later)
  3. Cut up a daikon radish into 1 inch rounds.
  4. Heat up a soup pot with a few glugs of neutral oil. I used canola. When the oil is hot, throw in the scallion whites and shiitake mushrooms and sautee until both are browned.
  5. Add in the daikon radish, 5 cups of water, a pieces of kombu, and bring to a boil.
  6. As soon as the water is boiled, take out the kombu (save for later), cover, lower to a simmer, and boil for 30 minutes or however long it takes you to get the other ingredients ready.
  7. When the broth is ready to be ladled over the noodle, it’s time to season. Turn off the heat.
  8. Add in 1 tablespoon white miso paste (dilute this in a few tablespoons of hot water to make it easy to stir)
  9. A few glugs of high quality soy sauce
  10. A glug of mirin
  11. Salt to taste

Soy glazed shiitake mushrooms:

  1. Slice the saved caps of the mushrooms into thin, quarter-inch slices.
  2. Heat a glug of oil in a pan and when the oil is hot, throw in the mushrooms.
  3. Leave the mushrooms on the pan until browned on one side, and then toss to the other side. You want to get these mushrooms pretty dry and brown. It takes about 10 minutes.
  4. While the mushrooms are cooking, mix 1 teaspoons soy sauce and 1/2 teaspoon mirin.
  5. When the mushrooms are done, turn off the heat but leave the mushrooms in the hot pan. Push them together into a heap and slowly drizzle the soy sauce mirin mixture on, stirring slightly to evenly distribute.
  6. Set aside for noodle topping

Kombu strip topping:

  1. Take the saved kombu and slice it into thin strips.
  2. Toss with a dash of soy sauce, a glug of toasted sesame oil, and a dash of rice vinegar.
  3. Set aside for noodle topping

To assemble:

  1. Cook the noodle in boiling water according to package instructions.
  2. Drain the noodles and put in a large noodle bowl.
  3. Add in the fried tofu skin
  4. Ladle the broth over the fried tofu skin to warm it
  5. Top with the shiitake mushrooms, kombu strips, and sliced scallion greens