Ramen is traditionally made with a rich, pork-based broth and springy noodles that are then topped with slices of roast pork. One of the most popular version is tonkotsu, which originated in the Japanese city of Fukuoka in 1937 and involves boiling pork bones for several hours. But not everyone who loves ramen loves Vitamin P. Fortunately, more ramen shops are offering pork-free — and entirely meat-free — alternatives. Toripaitan is a popular version prepared by boiling chicken bones. Paitan translates to "white soup," referring to the milky appearance of the broth.
These bowls of ramen, whether prepared with chicken, beef or vegetables, are delicious, satisfying and an ideal antidote to a Los Angeles winter day. Be aware! Some places use pork in their chicken broth (we've noted that in the listings below) but wherever we've said a ramen is pork-free, we have confirmed with the business that it contains no pork.
Jinya Ramen Bar
Jinya Ramen Bar offers three kinds of chicken ramen (regular, spicy and a wonton that contains shrimp) but their two types of vegan ramen are the sleeper hit. The Flying Vegan Harvest features corn, tofu, bean sprouts, broccolini and soy "meat" in a miso broth. The spicy, creamy vegan ramen contains fewer toppings, the better to showcase the rich soup, thickened with sesame.
Multiple locations, including:
11239 Ventura Blvd., Studio City. 818-980-3977.
5168 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire. 323-954-6477.
2400 Main St., Santa Monica. 310-392-4466.