My first obsession with Japanese food began in LA, where my friends introduced me to Santouka Ramen. Santouka originated in Hokkaido in 1988. Since then, it has expanded to multiple locations across Japan, the US, Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysia. When I moved to Tokyo, trying this tonkotsu-based (pronounced: tohn-ko-tsoo; meaning: pork) ramen closer to its origins was first on my to-do list. The shio (pronounced: she-oh; meaning: salt) ramen is their original, but my favorite is their Tokusen Toroniku Ramen.
– Toppings are served separately for Tokusen Toroniku Ramen –
The difference between Tokusen Toroniku Ramen and other ramen on the menu is that it uses slowly-simmered pork cheek rather than regular cha-shu. This part of pork is hard to find. It’s tender and fatty and melts in your mouth! Pork alone, the LA branches can’t compare to Japan. In Japan, the fat is so well-blended into the ‘meaty’ part of the pork whereas in LA, there are chunks of fat. I’ve heard that most of the franchises outside of Japan don’t live up to the same quality so make sure to visit if you’re in Japan!