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Ramen Review: Spicy Ramen @ Ramen Hood

Those that are well acquainted with ramen are pretty familiar with umami. I’m sure many of you can remember taking your first sip of your broth and feeling the satisfaction of the rich, savory soup warming you. It’s that delectable savoriness that really makes slurping noodles so enjoyable. The trick to the umami found in a lot of bowls of ramen are usually meat and bones.  This focus on meat as source of umami, however, sometimes leaves our non-meat eating friends with the impression that ramen is very much a dish out of reach. Fortunately, there are other ways of generating that umami and Ramen Hood in Los Angeles’ Grand Central Market definitely demonstrates how.


What’s in the Bowl?

Last ramen of the year! I took a trip with my friends Shawn and Juan to Grand Central Market for a bowl from @ramenhood . I’d definitely recommend this spot, especially if you want to try out their rich, vegan ramen (had to get a to-go bowl since they were a bit popular!) Look for a blog post in the new year! #ramenthusiast #bowlsieat #ramenhood #veganramen

A post shared by Khalid Richards (@ramenthusiast) on

Trying to capture the spirit of a tonkotsu broth, the lovely noodles get to sit in a sunflower seed broth. Since I opted for the spicy version, included was spicy paste, adding a bit more red to the broth and darkening it. The toppings were pretty simple: king oyster mushrooms, bean sprout, scallions, chili threads, and nori (dried seaweed). The extra bit that I think was impressive (but more on that a bit later) was the vegan egg: the “egg white” is made from soy milk and agar agar, while the “egg yolk” is made from beta carotene, nutritional yeast, B-vitamins, sodium alginate, and black salt.

How did it shape up to meat broths?

I feel like a big downfall of some ramen dishes that try and cater to the vegetarian and vegan palette is a lack of depth within the broth. Ramen Hood does this excellently with its sunflower seed broth. It’s first made by creating a vegan dashi, then blends it with a creamy base with onions, roasted sunflower seeds, white miso, and nutritional yeast. The result tastes like the familiar tonkotsu broths made from meat: hearty, bold, and full of flavor. The topping of the ramen are things I’d love in regular bowls of tonkotsu ramen: mushrooms that take place of the usual slices of cha-siu pork, bean sprouts to add a bit of a crunch, scallions to add a bit more depth, chili threads to add more heat, and nori for even more umami.

Though I loved most of the toppings, I will say that the vegan egg did take some adjusting to. I enjoyed the bite that you get from normal eggs in ramen. However, I’m not sure I’m entirely convinced on flavors. Perhaps I should have gone for the egg sooner than I did (I like saving mine for the end), but I feel like I didn’t get as much flavor as I would from traditional eggs. That being said, I felt like getting something that did have some of the texture of regular eggs was pretty impressive in and of itself.

So, do we need to try the vegan ramen?

In a word: yes. I definitely recommend taking a trip to Ramen Hood for two reasons. The first is to just add another bowl of tasty ramen on your “Have Eaten” list. I’m definitely of the opinion that one should try and find no reason not to have tasty food. The second reason, however, is to really gather an appreciation for a pretty difficult task: creating a dish where taking the easy road – in this case using meat to create a powerful broth with lots of umami – is ignored in favor of developing something that is truly delicious and special in its own way. Instead of thinking of the ramen at Ramen Hood as a substitute for tonkotsu ramen, treat it as its own dish. If you’re ever in Los Angeles, make your way downtown and please do give Ramen Hood a try!


Ramenthusiast in 2018

Hi there readers!

It’s been a while since actual content has been posted to the site, so I wanted to go through and talk about expectations for the future with Ramenthusiast. It’ll be quick (I’m not a fan of drawn out updated), so here we go:

  • New Look — A part of some of the updates that you’ll see in 2018 is a new look for the site. I’ve been hard at work trying to nail down what I believe the Ramenthusiast should look and feel like when you visit the site. I hope to have more updates about this project in March!
  • Consistent Blog Posts — I have an army of content I’m currently editing and hoping to post on here. The idea is to always have a stream of food-related topics to make available on the site. For example, there is an awesome post about sweet potato pie planned for next week. Don’t forget to check out the Instagram page for updates on blog posts
  • Ramen Map — A project I’ve been mulling over as well is the Ramen Map, something I’ll update whenever I have a bowl of ramen. The idea is to create short notes about different ramen bowls at the restaurants I get a chance to visit. More details on implementation will be available in March!
  • More Instagram content — Most of the Ramenthusiast content in 2017 has been on Instagram. I definitely plan to include more of the same in 2018, but more often!

I’m absolutely looking forward to sharing more of my dining and cooking experiences with you all! You’ve been amazing with your support and I cannot wait to see how Ramenthusiast grows over time.

Until next week’s pie post!

Welcome to the Ramenthusiast!

Hey there! If you managed to make it to this slice of internet, I suppose I’ve gotten lucky and earned a new reader or I probably told you about the blog. Nevertheless, welcome to the Ramenthusiast! Here, you’ll find a lot of posts about the food I have a chance to eat (especially the ramen), the dishes I learn how to create, and some other thought pieces around food that go a bit beyond typical discussions of how things taste. I encourage you to check things out weekly here, and to follow me on Instagram and Twitter (which I’ll update more often).

Let’s go for this ride together, eat some good food, and have some great discussions!