Okiboru: Ramen’s Big Cousin Is Packing A Big Bowl Of Flavor
It’s no secret that there is a booming scene for ramen throughout all of DTLA, but have you met Ramen’s cousin Tsukemen? The next big dish to revolutionize the food scene that’s sprouting from Little Tokyo to Chinatown is the specialty at Okiboru.
Located right where El Pueblo and Chinatown intersect, Okiboru’s concept is somewhat of a treasure for DTLA residents to discover. Ramen and Tsukemen differ in the style of consumption and preparation of the noodles and broth. Tsukemen gives the eater more control, you have to dip the noodles in the broth, a popular summer dish in Japan, Okiboru is debuting it in LA.
Owner Sean Park knows Angelenos are adventurous eaters, it’s the perfect place for his new food trend. They’re one of two restaurants in California that specialize in tsukemen, and make no mistake it is a specialty. However, Okiboru, which means “big bowl”, is the only restaurant in the U.S. that makes tsukemen noodles in-house. The layout of the restaurant allows for an open kitchen space where guests can bear witness the preparation. The design of the interior is definitely casual with ample seating.
The major difference between the two cousins lies in the noodles and broth. For tsukemen, the broth is packed full of flavor from being reduced for three days straight. The plan has been in the works for years, which consisted of Sean’s traveling to Japan to learn how to make tsukemen, and testing the broth for perfection. As for the future of Okiboru, Sean plans to enjoy their early success following the grand opening, “I’d love to experiment with different flavors of broth in the future but for now, we have found the perfect recipe.”
If you have a passion for ramen, tsukemen is like leveling up. Okiboru’s specialty includes grilled chashu, which is a 4 hour braised soft and tender pork meat that tops off their signature bowl, The Okiboru. Loyal ramen fans have no fear- Okiboru also serves ramen! Plus, they have vegan options for both styles, which according to Sean is hard to find.
For drinks, Sean didn’t steer far from tradition but he did go with a brand that customers will fall in love with. The Irish company Stubborn soda, uses only all natural flavors with no high fructose corn syrup. Sean has stocked Okiboru with seven delicious flavors ranging from Agave Vanilla Cream to Lemon Berry Acai, making the perfect pairing with any bowl offered in the menu.
Bringing the location to Chinatown was a decision Sean and his team made inspired by the versatility of cultures in and surrounding the Chinatown food scene. Neighboring with giants such as Howlin Rays and Majordomo, Okiboru’s pioneering cuisine combined with Sean’s expertise- is sure to be a hit. Their goal is to take part in this already exploding culinary movement surrounding Chinatown and while conserving the history that built it- help Chinatown evolve into an essential dining destination.
Written by Mariana Ramos | Photography by GL Askew II