Menya Hanabi is a relatively new restaurant to Los Angeles and opened during the start of the pandemic back in 2020. They specialize in soupless ramen, also known as mazesoba, which is inspired by Taiwanese-influenced ramen and originated in Nagoya, Japan. Rather than being served with a broth and thinner noodles, this unique type of ramen is served with a rich, thick, flavorful sauce and is served with thicker noodles that are so satisfying to slurp. This type of ramen is usually served with lots of toppings, including finely shredded green onion, seaweed flakes, ground pork, slices of fatty pork belly, and a raw egg yolk on top.
The idea of soupless ramen might be rather strange to some and that is because it is actually quite uncommon in the United States. Menya Hanabi is one of the few restaurants out there that are currently serving mazesoba, which makes it all the more rare and special.
This was my first time trying this type of ramen as well and I personally thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved that they use thicker noodles, which I prefer in general, and the sauce is just amazing! It is so rich and creamy and has a great balance of different flavors showcasing a bit of savoriness, a bit of sweetness, and a bit of tanginess as well. The raw egg yolk (you get to choose if you want it poached or just from the egg), which might be a bit daunting to some, made the noodles even more creamy and was just a heavenly combination of flavors. I love green onions so I loved the addition of it to the ramen of course. The ground beef did not really stand out to me and was usually just left at the bottom of the bowl since it was harder to pick up with chopsticks. I really liked their slices of fatty pork belly as well. It was browned perfectly and seriously so tender that it just melts in your mouth!
They also have a version of mazesoba that uses Japanese curry flavors as their base. This is perfect for the Japanese curry lovers out there who would love it in a ramen form as well. Personally, I really enjoy Japanese curry, however, this was a bit too salty for me, but the flavor was definitely there and went very well with the noodles regardless.
We also tried their takoyaki and seaweed salad. Both were very tasty and great appetizers. The takoyaki seemed very fresh and was very soft to bite into, cooked perfectly. You can never go wrong with seaweed salad as an appetizer because the tanginess is just so effective in creating an appetite and overall it is just a great food to snack on throughout the meal to break things up a bit so it doesn't get too repetitive.
One thing I will say about their menu is that if you go here, you're pretty much only going to be eating their soupless ramen. They have very limited options so if you don't want soupless ramen, there aren't really any other options for you to order. They have a selection of sides and appetizers but those are merely sides and appetizers so if you want something filling, they really only offer their soupless ramen. And the flavors are pretty much the same for each bowl, the only differences being which toppings each bowl comes with, with the exception of the curry mazesoba which is a completely different flavor so it might be a good option if you're looking to try different flavors and share with a friend. I do like how customizable their bowls are, given that the sauce is the same. You can choose exactly which toppings are on and not on your bowl which is awesome and you could also request to add more of a certain thing that you really like if it already comes with it. They also have a small selection of drinks and dessert, but for the most part they really focus on their soupless ramen. And I have to say, their ramen is delicious and many smaller Japanese restaurants alike have very limited options in general because they really like to hone in on one thing that they specialize in. I honestly really respect that about Japanese restaurants and honestly, I'd choose quality over quantity any day!
Overall, the meal as a whole was great and it was definitely a really unique experience as I had never had soupless ramen before this. I will say, however, that each bowl of mazesoba was very filling and rather heavy. I'd say the average person wouldn't be able to finish an entire bowl unless they're very hungry. The flavor of the sauce was undeniably and truly delicious though and to this day, I still crave the taste of it. Would you try soupless ramen?
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