Jounetsu Ramen is one of those places that was just suddenly there one day and seems as if it’s always been there, even though it only opened in 2019.

Located on a quick stretch of Fourth Street between Orange and Alamitos avenues, near vegan landmark, Seabirds Kitchen, one could pass Jounetsu Ramen multiple times a day and easily never see it, even though the name is in huge letters over the patio. It simply fits in perfectly right where it is, for what it is.

I say this because some restaurants are like a square peg in a round hole, just jammed into a location because the location was available, and for no other reason; and those places never seem to work out, do they? A great example of this would be 1035 Thai Place — the restaurant in operation prior to Jounetsu Ramen.

1035 Thai Place failed for many reasons, (like the fact that they couldn’t make deliveries) but the food wasn’t one of them. They had the greatest spring rolls I’ve ever tasted in Long Beach, memorable in fact, with fresh crisp ingredients that would leave a spritz in the air with each bite, as if cilantro and bean sprout perfume were sprayed in a mist beneath your nose. The fresh rolls were wrapped with passion, enthusiasm, and care; certainly one of the top three Thai restaurants Long Beach had to offer in my book, as short-lived as it was.

But back to Jounetsu  … a Japanese word that means “passion” or “enthusiasm,” Jounestu is a good definition of the food because it’s impossible to eat ramen without enthusiasm, as the broth dribbles down your chin and long noodles hang from your teeth guided by chopsticks into the bowl of broth below. You have to commit to each bite, and commit with enthusiasm, otherwise it’s just a big mess. But once you successfully conquer that toothsome bite of perfectly cooked noodles, the exhale you sigh is a resounding Om of pranic healing. And when you find yourself crediting a sense emotional satiation of mind, body, and spirit after a bite of ramen, you know you’ve got something worth eating.

While the staff at Jounetsu Ramen seems to have neither passion nor enthusiasm for the food they’re serving, it doesn’t show in the food at all. That’s not to say that the service is bad, or unfriendly in any way, but if you have a question about the menu, the ingredients, the restaurant — pretty much any question except directions to the bathroom — you’re met with a shrug.

“Is this broth vegan?” The server will tell you yes. “It tastes like pork broth, is there pork in the broth?” The server shrugs again and admits…well, maybe there is pork in the broth, but clearly doesn’t care.

With the patio on Fourth Street adding seats to an already small kitchen, even when the seating area is half full the servers in the restaurant seem to immediately run in little circles. You might get visited by the same server twice, asked for your order twice, and then visited by an altogether different server to have your order taken again.

Once you figure out that it isn’t you, that the servers really don’t care about anything but taking orders to the kitchen, and delivering those orders from the kitchen, the entire process of finding the perfect bowl of ramen without guidance is a pleasure. They are there to tell the kitchen what you want, and then return to you with what you want from the kitchen. That’s it. No difficult questions. No difficult substitutions. No problem.

Appetizers run between $5 and $9 and have a couple of interesting options. Consider the Takoyaki ($7): Octopus balls (not what you’re thinking) that are typically made from a wheat-based batter with octopus, tempura crisps, pickled ginger, and green onions baked in a specially molded pan turning out savory bites about the size of doughnut holes.

The most authentic ramen this side of Torrance (which is where you can find the most authentic ramen this side of Tokyo), Jounetsu offers bowls of steaming broth that are pork, chicken, or soy-based.


Spicy miso ramen. Instagram photo.

Spicy miso ramen ($15): Pork-based broth with pork belly, green onion, bean sprouts, spinach, bamboo shoot, house-made chili paste, and half an egg that still has a slightly soft yolk. A healthy dose of miso paste adds a warm umami mouthfeel, with aromatics of toast, and a funky salty-sweet richness. The noodles pick up hints of salt from the pork belly which adds another layer of succulent fatty flavor.

The real surprise however was the vegetable ramen ($15): A soy milk broth with house-made vegetable stock, enhanced with a veggie “paste” (that’s all I was reluctantly told) with steamed tofu, bean sprouts, corn, broccoli, mushrooms, and fresh spinach. As a request, I added a bit of the house chili paste, which added a hint of tang and just a tingle of spice so as not to overwhelm the concentrated flavors of the creamy, almost coconutty broth. The noodles become entangled with wilted spinach as the brew steeps and cools to a temperature that is just hot enough for your lips to stand, offering a delicious little pain threshold to the equation; perfect if you have the opportunity to sit on the patio on a cool evening.

Vegetarian ramen. Photo by Matt Miller.

In addition to ramen, Jounetsu also offers rice bowls ranging from $12 to $14, or combinations, offering salad and ramen along with a small rice bowl ranging from $19 to $21.

They also have a limited sushi menu of five items that offers all the standards like: spicy tuna roll, avocado roll, or California roll ranging from $7 to $9 (but who goes for sushi at a ramen shop anyway?)

Jounetsu Ramen, 1035 E. Fourth St. Instagram: @jounetsu_ramen