99 Essential Restaurants 2014

Tsujita L.A.

photo by Anne Fishbein

Do you really want to spend your lunch hour standing in line for the better part of an hour, inches from the busy traffic of Sawtelle Boulevard, waiting in a Wi-Fi dead zone to get into an equally crowded restaurant to slurp down a bowl of hot soup in a city where it’s often 80 degrees in the dead of winter? Yes, you really do. And as often as you can manage it. The seemingly permanent crowds waiting to get into Tsujita L.A. haven’t lessened since the Tokyo-based company opened its Annex across the street, possibly because the ramen and tsukemen are far superior at the original (though still good). These are probably the best bowls of the stuff in Southern California, technically masterful, Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen and exquisite iterations of tsukemen, or dip ramen, with hand-crafted noodles and broth as thick and potent as demi-glace. Sure, the ratio of waiting time to slurping time is ridiculous — but such is the mathematics of gastronomic pleasure. Just get in line.

-- Amy Scattergood