There used to be a great Japanese restaurant on Vermont called Mako. It was walking distance from my house, and it had a gloriously limited menu. You could get a spicy tuna roll, california roll, yakisoba, or tempura. The rest of the menu just offered varying combinations of those items. And at about $5 per item, it was the perfect cheap-eat for any day you didn’t feel like cooking for yourself (i.e. most days).
Mako was the epitome of what people lovingly refer to as a “hole in the wall” or a “mom and pop” or a “local favorite.” I am firmly convinced all those restaurant buzzwords were created for Mako. It was the kind of place that you could go to everyday and get exactly the same thing. That kind of safety and familiarity is hard to come by; it requires a balance of flavor, convenience, accessibility, and price-point. That being said, I think Silverlake Ramen on Sunset Blvd. stands a good chance of being my new Mako.
Silverlake Ramen occupies the corner spot of the Silversun Plaza strip mall where an old pupuseria used to be. It feels at home in that location, across the street from Silver Lake staples like Cafe Tropical and Silverlake Lounge (2 very familiar hangouts for locals). You can park in the lot for free most days, but you might have to pay a few bucks on weekends.
Bottom line: the ramen is great. I had the Tonkotsu Spicy Ramen – the broth was thick and flavorful. It comes with your choice of pork belly or chicken, and I went with the pork belly. It’s a warm, hearty bowl full of thick, eggy noodle, garnished with green onions, and seaweed paper. I highly recommend going medium or full spicy with this one, if that’s your thing.
I prefer the Tonkotsu Ramen over the Tokyo-style dippin noodles, which are served cold with the broth on the side. Maybe it’s my Vietnamese, pho-centric affinity for noodle soup that draws me to the big bowl of steamy broth, but it just appeals to me more than the deconstructed counterpart.
In addition to ramen, they offer rice bowls and sushi. The Soboro bowl is made up of ground beef, scrambled egg and spices. The Chashu bowl comes with delicious simmered chicken or pork belly, or there is a Spicy Tuna bowl with fresh greens. Or you could get the best of both worlds and opt for a combo (only an additional $3.75) for ramen, a small rice bowl, and salad. I did this, and it was a little too much. But for a mere $12.70, you are not going to find a bigger, better, more affordable feast.
Other items of note: the pork belly bun is crazy. They recently added this item to their list of specials. You can probably tell by now, that I am a big fan of their pork belly, which gets folded up in a pillowy white dough bun along with pickled onions and green onions. If the salad/rice bowl/ramen combo sounds like too much food for you, I suggest opting for a pork bun and a hot bowl of ramen.
Silverlake Ramen is definitely hipper than Mako was: the lighting is dim, the wood paneling is modern, the clientele is tattooed (Stu included). But the food, location, and atmosphere has everything that will keep me coming back on a weekly basis until it becomes my new favorite spot.
2927 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026