Exploring Ramen: Kitakata Ramen Bannai, Zetton, Ikkousha

I finally made it to Kitakata. Place is super popular.

This is easily the best chashu I have ever had in my life. So rich, and fatty, and flavorful…yet somehow light. I don’t know how it feels so light on the palate when it is so fatty. It’s miraculous.

I prefer Ikkousha’s noodles though, and their egg. How do people that make God’s chashu make such sub-par eggs? The noodles are not bad mind you, but just not my preference. The very light broth and chashu by themselves are so good it hardly matters though. I doubt anyone can write much else about this place now, but for sure this ranks among the best ramen in SoCal.



The broth and chasu are unrivaled.

The egg is hit or miss.

The noodles would be perfect if they were more al dente.

It’s nice to have a broth that’s not the ubiquitous unctuous tonkotsu broth that dominates the LA ramen scene.


Check for signs of the apocalypse, cause this I certainly agree with.

Also, obviously this:

Can one/how does one request al dente noodles at a ramen place?

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Pretty sure that IS a sign of the apocalypse!

At Kitakata you can request more al dente I’m told.

I haven’t done so myself.


Hi @Aesthete,

So glad you finally made it out there. :smile: Thanks for the report. Their Chashu is SO good, right? :smile: Really amazing. And I like their light broth so much more these days than the overly heavy, fat-laden Tonkotsu broth (which, to be fair, I used to love so much. Just tired of it now).

I agree on the egg and noodles (I had the same experience on my visit). But I’m going to try @Porthos advice and try asking for more al dente next time and see what happens.

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Update 1:

Kitakata Ramen Bannai (2nd Visit)
From the last tour of these three ramen shops, the major weakness at Kitakata that prevented it from being really amazing was its ramen noodles. They were fresh cut to order in the restaurant, which was nice, but they were too soft. Taking @Porthos suggestion that they could customize the bowl of ramen, I went back.

Green Chili Shio Ramen (Pork Broth, Shio Base, Toro Chashu, Green Chili, Napa Cabbage, Asian Chives, Red Onions, Green Onions):

For the experiment, good news! They do allow you to customize your noodles. So I asked for “Katamen” or “Hard Noodles”, and they said that’s totally fine.

And… just awesome! This is exactly what was missing the last visit. The Katamen was indeed just right, firmer, with some chew, and with Kitakata’s lighter, delicate broth, it was MAGIC! :heart: So good!

This time around I tried their Shio (Salt) based broth, which tasted cleaner than their Shoyu, but both are sublime.

The fresh Green Yuzu Chili they added in was pretty nice as well, giving it a nice bit of heat, but nothing overwhelming. The Green Onions and the buttery, light-tasting Chashu Pork slices just made the whole thing even better! :smile:

Aburi Miso Ramen (Pork Broth, Miso Base, Bean Sprouts, Seaweed, Corn, Menma, Snow Peas, Green Onions):

Since I was searching for a good Miso Ramen, thanks to @Porthos heads up, I wanted to try Kitakata’s version. The waitress said that they use an Akamiso (Red Miso) base in their Kitakata style, which is not as heavy. It’s lightly sweet yet still savory. Like with all their ramen choices so far it’s rather delicate and one of the lightest tasting Miso Ramen I’ve ever had. Still very good. :slightly_smiling:

The Bean Sprouts, Corn, Menma and Snow Peas really make this bowl of ramen standout. And the Katamen (Hard Noodles) were a great match here as well. :slightly_smiling:

Now that I know that Kitakata Ramen Bannai can let you customize your noodles and get them more al dente, this really elevates them for ramen ((@Dommy’s going to be happy :). Kitakata is now making my favorite bowl of ramen in LA/OC. :smile:

Kitakata Ramen Bannai
891 Baker Street, Suite B21
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Tel: (714) 557-2947


Hi @Aesthete,

I confirmed that you can indeed order the noodles to be more al dente! :slightly_smiling: You can ask them for “Hard Noodles” or in Japanese “Ka-ta-men” (no emphasis on any syllable).

Dang, best wow ramen since tsujita first opened. Got the green chili shio ramen with firm noodles. Spiciness creeps up on you slowly.

Great stuff!


Sorry - at Tsujita’s or… thanks.

That’s Kitakata

@Porthos, thx for rectifying my glaring omission.

Hi @Sgee,

LOVE Kitakata! So glad you like their Green Chili Shio Ramen. :slight_smile:

I need to return soon.

FWIW, our very own @JLee spoke of Kitakata … nearly 2 whopping years ago:

Chashu ramen at Kitakata Ramen. Excellent, my new favorite bowl of noodles in SoCal.

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You mean this thread here?

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Not sure if anybody else posted but Kitakata opened up a new branch in Buena Park the other day

7550 Orangethorpe Ave E300
Buena Park, CA


@Chowseeker1999 Yes, that relatively light broth looked very innocuous until you start slurping it up and the heat and yuzu hits you. Frankly had no expectations initially. Nice change from the overly fatty tonkotsu broths. Sadly, too much of a hike for me to get down to Costa Mesa (or Buena Park) or it will definitely be on my regular rotation.

@TonyC no intention of implying Kitakata is a new joint/discovery, just took me a while to finally experience myself…

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sorry @porthos @sgee, I totally f’d up on the wording…

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Update 2:

We decided to try Kitakata Ramen Bannai’s new 2nd Branch in Buena Park since we were in the area. :slight_smile:

The space is larger than the original location, and there’s no line / no wait when we went (during prime time lunch hour).

Kitakata Ramen (Pork Broth, Shoyu Base, Toro Chashu, Menma, Green Onion):

Their classic Kitakata-style Ramen Broth was still very light and delicate, but it lacked just a touch of the soul of the original. It still tasted almost like a good Chicken Broth in some ways (I still can’t believe it’s a Pork base), but it isn’t as deeply flavored as the original location.

Their Chashu was worse. :frowning: It wasn’t bad, but it was thick cut, slightly chewy / firm (with some tenderness), but it wasn’t the melt-in-your-mouth, amazing Chashu at the original location. (Just looking at the pictures between this and the original (at the top) and you can see it looks nothing alike.

We ordered their Ramen Noodles “Firm” (Katamen), and it definitely helped. It had a good chew and bite, and stood up to the Broth and Chashu quite well. :slight_smile:

Juicy Fried Chicken (Kara-age):

Their Kara-age was almost as good as the original location; crisped and juicy.

Overall, if you’re in the area, Kitakata Ramen Bannai 2nd Branch is a solid Ramen shop and worth a stop. It’s not quite as good as the original, but there are no lines and there’s more seating.

Kitakata Ramen Bannai
7550 Orangethorpe Ave.
Buena Park, CA 90621
Tel: (714) 752-6878



Kitakata Ramen Bannai (Costa Mesa)

We recently had a chance to stop by Kitakata again, visiting some friends in the area. Even within 15 minutes of closing, there was still a line to get in.

Boiled Gyoza (with Green Onion and Yuzu Chili Sauce):

The Housemade Gyoza featured thin-to-medium thick Gyoza skin. The Marinated Ground Pork, Green Onion and Yuzu Chili Sauce made for a distinctly different taste on Gyoza you usually find at local Ramen shops. Delicious. :slight_smile:

Kitakata Ramen (Pork Broth, Shoyu Base, Toro Chashu, Bamboo Shoots, Green Onion):

While Ramen Bannai serves a Pork Bone-based Broth, it is nothing like the more commonly found milky, heavier Tonkotsu Ramen around L.A. Bannai’s version remains translucent and clear, with a taste to match. It is lighter, but still full of flavor with the Shoyu (Soy Sauce) and Pork Bone base. If you didn’t know better, you might even think this was a delicate Chicken Broth (but with more umami).

It remains delicious. :slight_smile:

The Pork Toro Chashu is this marvelous balance of lean, tender Pork as well as fatty Pork. Not multilayered like Pork Belly, but the cut has a seeming split down the middle of half lean and fat and together it’s still fresh, bright and very tender. :slight_smile:

Their Ramen Noodles are the same as before, machine cut fresh in the kitchen throughout the day. We stuck with @Porthos’ recommended “Firm Noodles” setting and it makes all the difference.

Green Chili Shio Ramen (Pork Broth, Shio Base, Shoyu Base, Toro Chashu, Green Chili, Napa Cabbage, Asian Chives, Red Onions, Green Onions, Sesame Oil):

Their wonderful Green Chili Shio Ramen has changed slightly: Instead of a pure Shio (Salt) Broth Ramen, it’s now a combination of Shio (Salt) base and Shoyu (Soy Sauce) base. The result is still quite tasty, but it’s different than before.

Even with the slight change their Green Chili Shio Ramen is still my favorite of the menu offerings at Kitakata Ramen Bannai. :slight_smile:

Kitakata Ramen Bannai
891 Baker Street, Suite B21
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Tel: (714) 557-2947

Hakata Ikkousha (Torrance)

We had been to the Costa Mesa branch of Ikkousha before, but never got a chance to visit the Torrance branch. I was hoping it might be a bit more approachable compared to our visit to the Costa Mesa branch.

Walking inside, the Torrance branch feels more haphazardly thrown together (nowhere near as nice, bright and updated as the Costa Mesa location).


One nice touch at both of the Ikkousha branches is their condiments station, where you have a Sesame Seed Grinder, freshly grated Garlic, Gyoza Sauce and Ginger, along with the best addition: Spicy Pickled Vegetables (Takana).

This adds a beautiful spicy pickled vegetal note to your Ramen.

Hakata Specialty Hitokuchi Gyoza:

Their Housemade Gyoza arrived with a pleasing pan-seared crunchy crust on the bottom. The actual inner filling was fine.

Special Fried Chicken (1 Piece):

Pictured above is their “1 Piece” order of Ikkousha’s Special Fried Chicken(!). It is a massive piece, but at the same time if you look closely it’s mainly because it’s been pounded and flattened out. But regardless, it is one of the best versions of Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken) we have locally. Crispy crunchy texture and flavorful Chicken within. :slight_smile:

Tonkotsu Standard Ramen (with Everything Topping):

This is Ikkousha’s signature Hakata-style Tonkotsu (Pork Bone) Ramen. We were already wary of what happened last time, so we were prepared to pace ourselves and not try to sip too much of the Broth.

The Tonkotsu Broth itself on first sip is very flavorful: Tons of porcine flavor, pork on pork on pork notes. It seems pretty tasty (initially).

The Pork Chashu slices are a disaster at the Torrance branch (see pic above). :frowning: Dried out, lean, slightly chewy, they are pretty terrible compared to most of the great-to-best places around L.A. Disappointing. :frowning:

The Noodles are the straight, thin, white Noodles that match the Tonkotsu Broth pretty well.

The Flavored Egg is overcooked though. Not to the point of hard boiled, but nowhere near the creamy, liquidy version at their Costa Mesa branch (to be fair we haven’t been back in over a year, so perhaps it’s a general decline).

But after a few more bites and sips of their Tonkotsu Ramen I started feeling what @Ns1 felt with Tsujita: I felt queasy and had to stop. :cry:

A year later and a different branch didn’t make a difference for me: Ikkousha’s Tonkotsu Standard Ramen is still pure LIQUID PORK (fat). :sweat_smile: :persevere: I enjoy a great Pork Belly dish. I can eat a bit of fatty Pork with no problem.

But something about Ikkousha’s Tonkotsu Broth makes Tsujita’s bowl of Pork Madness seem tame in comparison. Ikkousha’s Tonkotsu has too much Pork Fat. It’s thick, viscous and hardcore. But there are plenty of fans of Ikkousha and that’s great. I just can’t handle this bowl of Liquid Pork at all.

Interestingly, Ikkousha’s bowl of Tonkotsu Ramen is the polar opposite of the recently arrived Ippudo (Santa Monica). Whereas Ippudo’s might be too light, delicate and thin, Ikkousha’s smashes you over the head with what feels like the entire Pig distilled into one bowl.

We still want to try the God Fire Ramen one of these days, but even if that doesn’t work out, I’d be glad to come back for their tasty Gyoza and especially the Karaage Fried Chicken sides. :slight_smile:

Hakata Ikkousha Ramen (Torrance)
21605 S. Western Ave, Unit #J
Torrance, CA 90501
Tel: (424) 558-3953



Try Kitakata’s Shoyu Hybrid its a little more balance