Vegan Ramen at Ramen Hood in DTLA - yes, that "egg" is 100% vegan!
Ramen Hood is one of the most buzzed about new restaurants, located in downtown Los Angeles' Grand Central Market among many other food vendor stalls in an airy, industrial-style building. Ramen Hood is the brainchild of Top Chef winner Ilan Hall, and while the chef isn't vegan, everything on the Ramen Hood menu is. I have been dying to try this place for a few months now. I mean, I cannot remember the last time I had vegan ramen - I know several places offer it (many of the Asian vegan restaurants or those with vegan options offer a vegan ramen), but the only vegan ramen I've had recently is instant ramen. So you can imagine my excitement when a legit vegan ramen place opened up! Finally, I can get my slurp on!
The weekend after Christmas I decided to go on a food adventure up in LA, and Ramen Hood was my first stop (I also visited Donut Friend and Organix)! Ramen Hood is located in the always bustling Grand Central Market. Parking is in an adjacent parking garage off S. Hill Street, and we got there a bit before 11am and were able to find a spot up on the 6th floor without too much fuss. A word of caution, this place can get really slammed, so plan your visit/parking accordingly. If the adjacent parking garage is full, there are always other parking lots in the area.
The bar seating at Ramen Hood, minutes before they opened (and after that,
those seats quickly filled up!).
After parking, we took the elevator down to the Grand Central Market. Ramen Hood is on the opposite side of the building from the parking structure (closer to S. Broadway), so we walked through the market and were able to see many of the other food stalls, which ranged in offerings from sandwiches to tacos to oysters to Thai food and so on. As far as I could tell, Ramen Hood is the only dedicated vegan restaurant in the place, though at least one other vendor was offering a vegan option (marinated seared tofu at Bombo, clearly marked "vegan").
Ramen Hood menu
The menu at Ramen Hood is simple, and there are just two types of ramen - the OG Ramen or the Spicy Ramen, each priced at $10 or $12 if you want to add the vegan egg. You can also get a cup of broth for $5 and add extras to your ramen and/or broth (see menu above). They do not accept substitutions or custom orders. Small plates are also offered, and they have a variety of drinks available when you order (Coca-Cola, green tea, etc.). I opted for the spicy ramen and got it with the soft-boiled vegan egg ($12). I also could't resist getting the Bahn Mi Poutine ($5), because vegan poutine! Next time I need to try more small plates, like the Pickle Plate or the Tofu al Pastor. They all sound so delicious.
Just ogle those noodles!
Their ramen is made with a base of sunflower seed and miso broth that is insanely rich (a bit too rich for me) and creamy. The Spicy Ramen has the added element of a spicy paste in the broth, which gave it a wonderful zing. The ramen is made with gorgeous noodles that are quite filling and substantial! The noodles were my absolute favorite part of the meal - I could have eaten those all day long! In addition, the ramen is topped with oyster mushrooms, scallions, bean sprouts, chili threads, and nori, and we also opted to have a vegan egg added. The vegan egg was interesting, but its soft-boiled egg consistency was a bit too close to the "real" thing for me! I would order it again, though, just because I want to taste it again and it adds so much to the look of the ramen. The portion size of the ramen bowl is generous, and my friend and I shared the ramen and still couldn't finish it all! The only thing I wasn't wild about was the broth, but that may just be because I haven't had proper ramen for years (unless you count the vegan instant ramen).
Extreme poutine close-up!
The Banh Mi Poutine was a delectable small plate that I couldn't get enough of! The thrice-fried potatoes were crispy, airy, and salty, and the spicy sriracha sauce gave it a nice kick. The pickled veggies on top also gave it a lovely crunchy texture! I could have used a bit more hoisin gravy, but more may have made the fries soggy, so perhaps in this case less is more. I couldn't stop eating this dish, even after I was full of ramen. Would most definitely order again!
Vegan ramen and poutine at Ramen Hood
Ramen Hood was a delight, and while I may not brave the drive to DTLA and the crowds at the Grand Central Market on a regular basis, it will be hard to resist the siren call of Ramen Hood's hot, steamy bowls of vegan ramen on a chilly day!
For more info, hours, etc., please visit Ramen Hood's Facebook page!