Residents of the Alamitos Beach neighborhood hardly noticed the shuttering of 1035 Thai Place—until a banner declaring, “Jounetsu Ramen: Coming Soon” was strung across the space’s dark windows. And they didn’t have to wait long; the new ramen restaurant opened just a few weeks later (it’s currently in its soft opening phase).
I heard a Jounetsu waiter explain that 1035 moved to a location with better parking. This stretch of Fourth Street is particularly congested, and parking can be a headache. Or perhaps it moved to Diamond Bar because the saturation of Thai places in Long Beach meant there was just too much competition for 1035.
So how will this new ramen place do? Long Beach’s noodle-restaurant population is somewhat smaller, but as seemingly popular eateries in the city tend to abruptly close shop without much notice, time will tell. The parking, however, will always be an issue.
Within 30 minutes of opening on a dreary Wednesday afternoon, however, Jounetsu was full.
Since it moved into an already functioning restaurant, Jounetsu didn’t have to do much in terms of remodeling. The layout remains: A long, narrow space holds half a dozen small wooden tables. Outside, the sidewalk patio can hold a few more parties. Each table is adorned with a wooden box holding a trifecta of condiments: the requisite soy sauce, an orange-colored chile oil and a rust-hued chile powder, both of the latter hand-labeled.
Appetizer choices include vegan dishes such as edamame, organic tofu salad or seaweed salad. Jounetsu also makes takoyaki, a popular street food consisting of little eggy balls mixed with octopus; here, they come five per order. The juicy pork bun is a warm, soft, steamed bao bun cradling a few leaves of greens, cucumber slices and crispy-edged fatty pork belly, all drizzled with a spicy aioli. The tiny sandwich is a three-bite deal, not really an appetizer for sharing—so order a few for the table.
Jounetsu prepares its ramen broths for no less than 15 hours, reducing the liquid and bones into a flavorful, silky base. You can choose between shoyu, miso and tonkotsu styles, all of which may be ordered spicy; there’s also a vegetable-based broth. Every option (save the veggie one) comes with your choice of pork belly, chicken or tofu.
I ordered the tonkotsu ramen with pork belly. It was loaded with perfectly toothsome, mile-long noodles; crunchy bean sprouts; a few leaves of dark spinach; one large sheet of dried seaweed; a sprinkling of chopped green onions; and a textbook example of a jammy egg. The broth was opaque, unctuous and slick.
Well-rounded components of a combination. Photo by Erin DeWittIf you’re feeling indecisive, go for a combination, which offers your choice of a petite-sized rice bowl and any full-sized ramen, plus a small salad of thinly shredded cabbage and carrots in a seasoned, mayo-like dressing.
The chicken rice bowl is pretty straightforward (skipping any veg promised with the entrée version), with tender chunks of chicken in a sweet orange glaze piled atop a mound of sticky white rice.
This is can’t-miss comfort food—if you can find parking. The Jounetsu team may have already solved that one, though, as it’s already available via Postmates; I’m sure more delivery apps will soon follow.
Jounetsu Ramen, 1035 E. Fourth St., Long Beach, (562) 612-4233.