I love exploring new restaurants and trying new and foreign dishes. Not only do I have a list of places I want to visit in my hometown, but I also have a list for New York, Boston, San Francisco, and even Tokyo. When I was in Tokyo years ago, I was able to cross off an eatery I was very eager to try. Specializing in tsukemen, Rokurinsha always has lines out of the door. Tsukemen is a dipping ramen noodle dish that can be served hot or cold. The noodles and toppings are served on the side and the guest takes small portions of the noodles, dipping it into the soup. Rokurinsha’s broth is full of umami, making every bite intensely flavorful. Since then, I have been able to find some notable tsukemen restaurants in Los Angeles but none that will ever compare to Rokurinsha’s. Because of this, I took it upon myself to brace the challenge and try to replicate it at home. I will admit, this is still not as good as the originals (because let’s face it, no one can probably replicate Rokurinsha’s recipe), but this is pretty darn close! Get ready for endless bowls of tsukemen at your house.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Tsukemen is, without a doubt, a different type of ramen that is not as well-known but based on my experience, it very well should be.
Start by making the soup base for the tsukemen. What I have discovered through my research is that tsukemen is almost a combination of tonkotsu ramen and shoyu ramen. You are essentially combining a pork and chicken broth with shoyu tare with a couple of other additional ingredients.
I used the help of the instant pot to prepare the pork and chicken broth but you can also use the stovetop. If simmering the broth on the stovetop, you will need to double the cooking time to a total of 13 hours (you can see why I chose to use the instant pot). Make sure to stir the bones every so often. The idea is to break down the bones, releasing the bone marrow which will help flavor and thicken the soup.
Rokurinsha uses a combination of pork, chicken, seafood, and vegetables to prepare their stock. I presumed the seafood refers to either bonito flakes, kombu, or dried sardine, all common ingredients used to prepare Japanese stocks. I used the help of bonito flakes and dried sardine powder to add the umami punch the tsukemen needs. If you can’t find dried sardine powder, try to find dashi powder that has dried sardine powder.
If possible, try to find thicker ramen noodles than the standard. The soup for tsukemen is quite strong and needs a thick noodle that can handle the flavors. If you can’t find fresh ramen noodles, opt for udon noodles.
Serve the dish with the toppings and noodles on the side and dip away! Shaved red onions and lime wedges aren’t found in Rokurinsha’s meals but I personally love the squeeze of acid and the taste of sharp onions to offset the heaviness of the stock. You may think that the tsukemen is salty, but the point is to have a heavily flavored dipping sauce to coat the noodles.
This dish may be my favorite ramen variation with the umami punch and a variety of toppings. Mix up the toppings if you desire, adding bean sprouts, a different type of fish cake or protein. Either way, because the soup is solid, the rest of the tsukemen will be as well!
Looking for someone to come to your house and prepare these dishes for you? It is possible! If you are in Los Angeles and looking for a private chef, please feel free to contact me. For more information, visit Private Kitchen Los Angeles.