I tore myself away from the old standbys of Suehiro, Sushi Gen and Mandarin Deli last night to try Daikokuya on First St.
The food: Although their savory ramen would be even better on a cold winter night, we enjoyed the place quite a bit. I had the "signature dish" of pork ramen -- which is actually the only type of ramen available. The broth was very flavorful and the noodles were quite hard to stop eating. The pork slices were kind of plain but the hard-boiled egg gained extra flavor after sitting in the murky broth for a while. My companion had the cold ramen noodles topped with sesame sauce and various veggies and meats, a better choice for a summer evening, and he declared it very agreeable (can you tell I just saw "The Village"?). We started with the super greasy, super yummy oniony gyoza (potstickers). Oh, and they also have rice bowls with teriyaki, salmon and such, and a few sushi rolls, as well as untranslated Japanese desserts.
The room: As Jonathan Gold says, this place looks like it's been there forever, even though it hasn't, and you kind of expect someone like Bukowski or Philip Marlowe to swagger up to the counter (they have booths too).
The people: We had a full view of a Keith Richards-type guy and his model-esque, yet skeezy, girlfriend, who alternately sucked face and fed each other ramen noodles and edamame -- cute, yet somewhat gross as well.
The tab: $26 for two including a beer and a coke and a lot of food.
Daikokuya (Little Tokyo)
327 E. 1st St.