After years of running guerilla-style ramen shops in borrowed bar spaces and training in renowned Hakata ramen shops, Chef Satoshi Ikuta opened his first Ramen Nagi location in Tokyo. Ramen Nagi became legendary, with 35 locations all over Asia. The first Southern California location opened in Century City earlier this month.
Ikuta is acclaimed as a true ramen master. His broths, made with proprietary ingredients, convey great depths of flavor.
You’ll find a traditional tonkatsu broth here, along with less conventional broth options like Black King (with calamari ink, blackened garlic, minced pork ball, and black sesame), Green King (a fusion-style tonkotsu enhanced with fresh basil, olive oil, parmesan, and chashu pork loin), and Red King (loaded with garlic, chili oil, cayenne, and a ball of miso pork).
Veggie King, the unique vegetarian option, boasts a flavorful broth made with puréed cauliflower. Two potato “chashu,” resembling hash browns, accent the bowl, along with shiitake mushrooms and fresh spinach.
Rotating seasonal specials, such as truffle broth, lobster broth, and shrimp broth, are also available.
Nagi’s ramen bowls are very customizable. You can specify the degree of saltiness, spiciness, and garlic, the richness of the added oil, whether you’d like pork belly or pork loin, or the addition of a boiled egg, seaweed, rice, or various vegetables.
Noodles, made fresh in-house every day, are available in seven different variations of thickness and firmness.
Starter options included juicy chicken karaage, a dozen small gyoza (beautifully connected by a lacing of fried batter), and garlicky edamame.
Chef Ikuta was on hand to guide the kitchen for the opening in Century City. During a press preview, he shared with us, via a translator, that he is impressed with the ramen served in LA and was honored to bring his own take on ramen to Angelenos.
The striking space features solid Japanese cedar, clean lines, and bursts of red.
Ramen bowls are $13.50 to $14.50. I plan to go back and savor them all.
Located at Westfield Century City, at 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., Ramen Nagi is open daily for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and for dinner from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.