Ramen you enjoy in Showa-era-like retro-inspired ambience
Ramen you enjoy in Showa-era...

Ramen you enjoy in Showa-era...

Ramen you enjoy in Showa-era...

Ramen you enjoy in Showa-era...

Ramen you enjoy in Showa-era...

By Keiko Fukuda

Jidaiya Ramen Dining in Gardena will have its fifth anniversary of the grand opening in April of this year. This is a very popular place which has been featured in various media in the past. “We were inexpert about ramen when we first opened,” says Taigo Sato, the co-owner/general manager.

Mr. Sato and the owner/chef and Masataka Hirai have been running Torihei, an izakaya in Torrance, which serves yakitori and oden dishes. Torihei used to serve ramen on its a-la-carte menu. They wanted more people to enjoy the ramen, and opened a ramen specialized restaurant, Jidaiya, separate from Torihei. The number of customers kept increasing right after the opening, but after a while, the customers suddenly stopped coming. The reason was the taste of the soup. “We were using the same staff, and the same recipe, but for some reason, the taste of the soup had become dull. After some research, we found out that it was caused by the temperature at the time when the soup was strained. We solved the problem, and restored the good taste of the soup, but it was not easy to bring back the customers who once left,” says Mr. Sato in a reminiscing mood.

In order to get the regulars back, and to gain new customers, Jidaiya started to try various things. First, the interior was renewed to make a retro-inspired ambience of the Showa-era. The restaurant is decorated with nostalgic ads with old kanjis, a tube TV set, etc. They have restaurants in Japan as well, so Mr. Hirai and Mr. Sato bought those old signs at auctions, etc. during the business trips to Japan to bring them to the U.S. Thus, the interior space, which gives a relaxing feel to those who knew the Showa-era, and a refreshingly different feel to others and Americans who are not at all familiar with such an era, was created.

Moreover, promotional stamp cards were distributed to the customers in order to attract repeat visitors. A free gyoza plate after the third visit, and a free ramen bowl after 12 visits, etc. were offered with those cards (they are no longer doing it). In addition, they participated in an event for the Ramen Festival, adding the special menu item that was developed for the event, Ramen Burger, to the regular menu for a certain period, etc., and succeeded in bringing back the current popularity they once had.

Being featured in “Westways”, the AAA magazine gave them a big break. Mr. Sato says, “We were interviewed without really knowing, and found ourselves being featured in the magazine,” says Mr. Sato. Americans who saw the article started to swarm into the restaurant. However, it did not end as a temporary phenomenon. Even now, a wide variety of customers in different race groups keep coming for the tasty ramen.

The most popular item is the tonkotsu ramen. The reasonable pricing of less than $10 per bowl is another attractive point. “Pricing is based on the Japanese standard. In Japan, people do not expect to pay more than 1,000 yen for a bowl of ramen. Not only is the price reasonable, but the volume is big so the customers should think that the cost performance for them is excellent”, says Mr. Sato.

Their ramen is served in Ehime-prefecture’s Tobe Ware bowls. “In order to retain the hot temperature of ramen until the last bite, we chose this Tobe Ware as the best candidate after searching through Japan. The bowls are rather expensive, but we chose them because they are baked multiple times with high heat, are durable, and most importantly, retain heat well so that the ramen and the soup can be enjoyed at the best temperature until the last drop. We will continue using the Tobe Ware bowls.”

Compared to five years ago when Jidaiya first opened, the number of ramen restaurants around Los Angeles has increased quite a bit. So, what would be the strategy to survive this so called ramen war era? Mr. Sato answers, “To keep offering ramen with consistency in taste, and good cost performance (reasonable price)”. They are thinking about a third restaurant to follow Torihei and Jidaiya targeting around the year 2020.





AAA発行の雑誌「WestWays」に紹介されたことも大きかった。「知らないうちに取材されて雑誌に載っていました」と佐藤さんも言うように、気づけば雑誌を見たアメリカ人が店に押しかけるようになった。しかし、それは一時的な現象にとどまらず、 通しで営業している同店には、今でも人種問わず幅広い層の人々がラーメンを求めて来店する。



5年前、時代家がオープンした時に比べて現在は、ロサンゼルス周辺のラーメン店の数は格段に増加している。まさにラーメン戦国時代と言える中にあって、時代家の生き残り策とは? その問いに「安定した味、コストパフォーマンスの良いラーメンを今後も提供していくことです」と佐藤さんは答えた。さらに、とり平、時代家に続くアメリカでの3店舗目は、2020年頃を目処に計画しているそうだ。

Jidaiya Ramen Dining
18537 S Western Ave
Gardena, CA 90248
(310) 532-0999
7 Days Open