Normally we'd venture to the South Bay, to San Jose's Santouka, to find a good bowl of tonkotsu ramen. But we won't have to venture that far, now that Izakaya Sozai, which opened last week in the space vacated by the former Sozai, is offering an excellent version.
Not really a ramen restaurant, Izakaya Sozai is a Japanese tapas place. But after doing a sampling of the menu, we're happy to report that the tonkotsu ramen ($8) is exceptional, arguably the best in the city (along with some udon dishes, it's listed on the menu's "After Sake" section). Once you taste the rich broth you'll understand why some people become raving ramen fanatics.
Chef Ritsu Osuka, former head chef of the West Hollywood branch of Blowfish Sushi to Die For, also does a fine job on Izakaya Sozai's Japanese small-plates dishes, some of the most delicious we've tried, while his wife graciously tends to customers' needs. We're elated this young couple is bringing new life to the Sunset restaurant scene.
Izakaya Sozai 1500 Irving (at 16th Ave.), 742-5122; open 5:30-11 p.m. Sun.-Mon. and Wed-Sat.; closed Tue.