The Tsujita noodle family opened their newest KILLER NOODLE shop on Sawtelle earlier this month. We love noodles and I love spicy foods, so it was an easy decision to come and eat here. We went here for lunch on a Saturday, despite being in their grand opening our wait was only 30 minutes. It was a hot day and I was questioning why was I going to torture myself even more so by eating spicy ramen. But then I remembered it’s been scientifically proven that eating piquant foods actually help cool you off, despite it being the opposite thing you’d want to do.
The decor of the place is super modern and chic, which kind of reminded me of the joke: “what’s black, white and red all over?” There’s large black and white portraits of random people on the walls, which made me wonder who these people are. It’s a pretty cool conversation starter. Along another wall high up, adjacent to the noodle bar are apothecary jars filled with spices and chilies that make their noodles excruciatingly delicious.
Their menu has three signature styles of ramen: Tokyo-style, which has more of a ground sesame flavor; Downtown-style, that has a more profound sansho (prickly ash pepper) which creates more of a numbing flavor in your mouth; The Original, is a clear broth with a topping of ground pork and tofu with a super generous helping of black pepper. With each style you can choose having the noodles in soup or dry.
We tried each style of noodles with soup. We opted for The Original for Winter and August with Zero spice. Each of these noodles, you can customize it suit your mood or weather. You can add more MA (prickly ash pepper) to numb your mouth like you’ve just had dental work or LA (red chilies) to give you the burning sensation like you’ve taken up fire-eating. There are also choice of extra add-ons for a nominal cost. So with the choices you have, you could come and eat here every day and have a different combination every time.
I ordered the Downtown (level 4 in MA and level 3 in LA) and my Sister-in-Law ordered the Tokyo (both level 4.) She’s more of a fiery badass than I am. With each order you can customize even more if add ons, and as much lemon as you like.
Before I could even take a picture of the kids’ noodles or my SiL, they dug into it. The first sight of my bowl of noodles made me sweat, I thought, “what if I ordered it too spicy?” The bright red, thick soup intended to coat your tongue and mouth, so you can’t escape the heat. I panicked for a millisecond, they sell a yogurt drink to help take away the burn if one was too overzealous in their spiciness eating abilities. So I had a fallback plan if I overestimated myself. (PHEW!)
I tried the soup first and I LOVED it, I was handling the spice ok, but maybe the spiciness builds? I decided to stop slurping my ramen noodles after the third time, when some of the soup nearly missed my eye, I didn’t want writhe in pain around a bunch of strangers and embarrass myself for a rookie mistake. I gingerly ate some noodles and drank more broth and yet no crazy burning sensation, and just when I was confident in my spicy level, it hit me. I instantly began to sweat, my mouth was starting to burn and my lips were feeling tingling, thanks to the MA factor. I was determined to follow through, my SiL said she likes to add lemon juice to mellow out the flavors. I thought it was a little weird, but I gave it a shot. The fresh squeezed lemon juice was my saving grace, it gave it a sweetness that cooled the fire in my mouth. The broth became more addicting, I couldn’t stop.
Winter’s Original noodles with zero spice was umami incarnate. It was heavenly. Winter & August ate almost 3/4 of an adult serving. They were mad for it. I couldn’t have been more proud. We will definitely be back, and I can’t wait to take my in-laws, they’re the hottest chili heads I have ever met. I am curious to have a sip of their combination of spicy and numb. I will most definitely have to order the yogurt drink after one taste I am sure, but it’ll be worth it.
KILLER NOODLES Tsujita
2030 Sawtelle Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025