Saturday, January 31, 2015

Au Jus Serious?

Black-belt ramen at Ikemen

Quentin Tarantino couldn’t have location-scouted better for a new ramen joint than Ikemen, squished into a La Brea plaza alongside a Russian restaurant, liquor store, and massage parlor.

The ultra-noir interior with a central chandelier houses more bar seats than tables, while the chefs don fedoras backed by a soundtrack ripped from '70s car chase scenes.

The dishes are just as cinematic, especially the Johnny Dip, tsukemen noodles dipped into a homemade tonkotsu au jus with green onions and Italian basil.

Sean Nakamura, a celebrity ramen legend, trained the head chef.

The Dragon Ball appetizer (fried shrimp balls with a tangy sauce) and exotic toppings from bonito flakes to Onsen Tamago (a hot spring-boiled egg) add depth to any dish.

Adding a wrinkle? Ikemen takes cash only, and doesn't serve booze — yet.

Until they do, head up the hill for drinks at Yamashiro to continue the Tarantino theme. Just don't hurt anybody.

1655 N. La Brea Ave. (and Hollywood), Hollywood (323) 800-7669

Price: 2 (out of 4) Noise: 2 (out of 4)
Parking: Tiny lot, street or paid lot across the street
Scene: Industry types; artsy neighborhood couples
Best bets: Johnny Dip; Bonito Dashi
Hot seat: Any of the five at the ramen bar
Nearby: MyHouse Nightclub; Roosevelt Hotel; Yamashiro

The Rundown's restaurant reviews are based on anonymous visits by reporters, not press releases.

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