Tan-Tan Men @ Chin-Ma-Ya

I recently went, on an overcast and drizzly day, to Little Tokyo in downtown LA with my buddy Geoff and my fiancé Regina in search of ramen. I can’t remember who first recommended Chin-Ma-Ya (perhaps another blogger or Twitter friend), but upon hearing of their spicy Tan-Tan Men I knew I had to try it.
Dan-Dan or Tan-Tan noodles are a Sichuan specialty of wheat noodles topped or tossed with ground pork, minced preserved mustard greens, chili oil, Sichuan peppercorn, minced scallions, and sesame paste. It’s usually quite spicy, with sometimes a subtle sweetness to balance it out. Dan-Dan noodles can be made a thousand different ways, and I’ve never had a version I didn’t love.
I was intrigued to see how the Japanese would take this Chinese classic and transform it into something distinct, different, and delicious. I’d never had Dan-Dan in ramen soup form, but I was excited.
I was not let down.
Spicy Tan-Tan Men

Chin-Ma-Ya is a simply adorned place on the second story of a characterless mini-mall in Little Tokyo, near the more famous (because of Man Vs. Food, more than anything else) Orochon. We had a short wait for a table, which was more than offset by the happy hour special of draft Kirin beer for a buck 99.

After a 15 minute wait, our appetites whetted by that frosty beer, we were ushered to a table and greeted by the friendly waiter. Service was quick, attentive, and personable. We ordered immediately. Geoff and I both got the Tan-Tan Men combo with Kare-Age (little chunks of crispy fried chicken thigh). Regina ordered a Shoyu Ramen combo with sliced chashu pork and a side of gyozu. We all ordered our noodles topped with a soft boiled egg.
Kare-Age was Grrrreat!
I ordered my noodles spicy and they were fantastic. The noodles had flavor and a good chew. The broth was robust, rich with porky goodness, sesame paste, and a healthy dose of spice. Mine was the spiciest, and yet was hardly hazardous. The ground pork was yummy and slightly sweet. The spinach and bamboo shoots added a bit of balance. Honestly, this is one of the finest ramen noodle bowls I’ve ever had. Great flavor, great noodles, and utterly, completely addictive.  Too much sesame paste? Perhaps for some palates. Too much spice? Definitely for some. A little greasy? Yep. Fantastic? Absolutely!
The chicken kare age was a great appetizer. The gyoza were fair, hardly memorable but nice while you’re eating them. Regina’s shoyu broth was very nice, perhaps a little conventional. She complained that the pork was a bit fatty for her taste, and I tend to agree.
Regina’s shoyu ramen.

But will we go again? You better believe it.

Chin-Ma-Ya Ramen
123 Astronaut Ellison S Onizuka St
Weller Court, 2F
Los Angeles, CA 90012

(213) 625-3400

1 thought on “Tan-Tan Men @ Chin-Ma-Ya

  1. Pingback: First Impressions: Tsujita LA Artisan Noodles | OMNIVOROUS

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