Update: Kinchan's has permanently closed.
Everyone has their favorite ramen house on Sawtelle. Non-grocery store ramen is new to me, so I've been on a mission to try them all--a mission that coincides nicely with my mission to eat at just about every restaurant on Sawtelle.
Ramenya is closed on Wednesdays, so I ended up at Kinchan's. It made no difference to me, really, since I hadn't tried either before.
I got the shiitake ramen to go. My order was ready very quickly, and the service was friendly. The restaurant looked a bit cramped and didn't have a whole lot of atmosphere. The ramen was good at first, and they sure didn't skimp on the mushrooms, but the flavor quickly became one-dimensional, with the dominant flavor being salt. The noodles were better than Chabuya, but not nearly as good as Asahi, but it depends on the texture you like. I'm an al dente kind of gal, but Kinchan's noodles were fully cooked (though not overcooked). I was pleased by the abundance of shiitakes, but the snow peas were soggy.
The soup also contained tofu and beef in small quantities. There wasn't a lot of broth in this ramen, and I'm not sure if that had something to do with getting my order to go or if Kinchan's just isn't big on broth. Eating the ramen out of the styrofoam it came in proved to be a surefire way to repeatedly burn my tongue (styrofoam really does keep the heat in) so I had to transfer my food to a bowl (dishes, boo!). As far as portion sizes go, I could have made two meals out of this (of course, wet noodles don't keep well at all), but I could probably feed three or four of me with a bowl from Asahi.
The soup came with a side of what may have been daikon pickles. They were an almost mustardy yellow and had a flavor that can only be described as "why white people eat at P.F. Chang's." I've liked daikon pickles at other places, like Yakitoria, but these had a sweet, musty flavor that made me wince.
Verdict: I'd rather wait in line at Asahi. Only one more ramen house to go! I have a feeling Asahi will win, though.
2119 Sawtelle Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025