Posts Tagged ‘Ala Moana Pacific Center’

Hawaii Ramen Quest – Part II

November 1, 2011
Part I |  Part II  | Part III | Part IV | Part V

We continue the slurp fest this month with a variety of ramen from Ramen Nakamura, Gomaichi, Goma Tei, Menchanko Tei, and Shokudo. Hungry? We go!

The last time I went to Ramen Nakamura was the day after I got hitched (in 2008). Since we had the hotel room for an additional day, we thought we'd play tourist and walk around to grab a bite to eat.

Ramen Nakamura sign
Ramen Nakamura sign

Ramen Nakamura has been a popular ramen-ya in Waikiki for years. They are known mostly for their Hakata style ramen and their Oxtail Ramen. I got the Oxtail Ramen Combo.

Oxtail Ramen Combo (Shio flavor, small fried rice, 3 pcs gyoza) - $17.20
Oxtail Ramen Combo (Shio flavor, small fried rice, 3 pcs gyoza) – $17.20

Not exactly cheap, but what the hey, we were on pseudo vacation. 😉

Wifey got the Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen.

Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen ăŻă‹ăŸăšă‚“ă“ă€ăƒ©ăƒŒăƒĄăƒł - $8.70
Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen ăŻă‹ăŸăšă‚“ă“ă€ăƒ©ăƒŒăƒĄăƒł – $8.70

Ramen Nakamura ăƒ©ăƒŒăƒĄăƒłăȘかむら
2141 Kalakaua Ave, Suite 1
Honolulu, HI 96815 (map)
(808) 922-7960
Mon-Sun: 11am-11:30pm

For some reason, a lot of people I talk to seem to be crazy about these next two places: Gomaichi and Goma Tei. Don't get me wrong, I think they are both OK, but am not sure if the fanatical nature of their enthusiasm is quite justified IMO.

As the story goes for many of these restaurants with strikingly similar recipes (RE: Boulevard/Dillingham Saimin & Tanaka Saimin, Shige's Saimin & Nakai Saimin, and Genki Ramen & Ramen-Ya), there was a rift between the owners that caused one owner to spin off and create Goma Tei. We'll start with the original: Gomaichi.

One night before heading to the club (yes, it was THAT long ago! 😛 ), we decided that we'd grab a quick bite to eat at Gomaichi (on Keeaumoku). We got the popular Tan Tan Men (of course) as well as the Wakame Tan Tan Men.

Tan Tan Men from Gomaichi たんたんメン - $7.40
Tan Tan Men from Gomaichi たんたんメン – $7.40

Close-up of the Tan Tan Men
Close-up of the Tan Tan Men

Wakame Tan Tan Men (seaweed & half hard boiled egg) わかめたんたんメン - $7.40
Wakame Tan Tan Men (seaweed & half hard boiled egg) わかめたんたんメン – $7.40

Gomaichi Ramen ă”ăŸă„ăĄăƒ©ăƒŒăƒĄăƒł
631 Keeaumoku St
Honolulu, HI 96814 (map)
(808) 951-6666
Mon-Sat: 11am-2pm
Mon-Sat: 5:30pm-9pm

And because I'm such a thorough (and investigative) journalist, I ordered the exact same thing from their Goma Tei counterpart: the Tan Tan and the Wakame. That, or we just always crave the same thing! 😉

Tan Tan Ramen from Goma Tei ăŸă‚“ăŸă‚“ăƒ©ăƒŒăƒĄăƒł (served with Japanese style char siu and vegetable garnishes) - $8.18
Tan Tan Ramen from Goma Tei ăŸă‚“ăŸă‚“ăƒ©ăƒŒăƒĄăƒł (served with Japanese style char siu and vegetable garnishes) – $8.18

Wakame Tan Tan Ramen ă‚ă‹ă‚ăŸă‚“ăŸă‚“ăƒ©ăƒŒăƒĄăƒł (served with wakame, shoyu egg and vegetable garnishes) - $8.48
Wakame Tan Tan Ramen ă‚ă‹ă‚ăŸă‚“ăŸă‚“ăƒ©ăƒŒăƒĄăƒł (served with wakame, shoyu egg and vegetable garnishes) – $8.48

We also picked up their specialty side dish, the Ban Ban Ji Chicken (which you will also find at Gomaichi).

Ban Ban Ji Chicken (Slices of chicken breast, cooked in a sake scallion and ginger broth then chilled in ice. Served on a bed of thinly sliced cucumber, chilled with a slightly spicy and tangy sesame sauce) バンバンゾチキン - $7.48
Ban Ban Ji Chicken (Slices of chicken breast, cooked in a sake scallion and ginger broth then chilled in ice. Served on a bed of thinly sliced cucumber, chilled with a slightly spicy and tangy sesame sauce) バンバンゾチキン – $7.48

Goma Tei currently has two locations: one in Ward Center (1st floor near the old Borders), and the other at Ala Moana Center (1st floor in between GNC and ABC Store). These photos were taken at the Ward Center location.

Goma Tei Ramen (Ward Center)
1200 Ala Moana Blvd
Honolulu, HI 96814 (map)
(808) 591-9188
Mon-Thu: 11am-9:30pm
Fri-Sat: 11am-10pm
Sun: 11am-9pm

Goma Tei Ramen (Ala Moana Center)
1450 Ala Moana Blvd
Honolulu, HI 96814 (map)
(808) 947-9188
Mon-Thu: 11am-9:30pm
Fri-Sat: 11am-10pm
Sun: 11am-8:30pm

A friend recommended we check out this next place. It had all the makings of an authentic Japanese ramen experience:

  • in Waikiki
  • menu written in Japanese
  • Hakata style ramen

Wifey outside Menchanko-Tei
Wifey outside Menchanko-Tei

Unfortunately, Menchanko-Tei in the Waikiki Trade Center did not deliver. I'm hoping that it was just an off night though and am willing to go back for another try. Here's what we had that night.

Hakata Pork Broth Ramen æœŹć Žćšć€šăšă‚“ă“ă€ă‚‰ăƒŒă‚ă‚“ - $8.95
Hakata Pork Broth Ramen æœŹć Žćšć€šăšă‚“ă“ă€ă‚‰ăƒŒă‚ă‚“ – $8.95

Seafood Menchanko æ”·ăźćčžă‚ă‚“ăĄă‚ƒă‚“ă“ - $15.95
Seafood Menchanko æ”·ăźćčžă‚ă‚“ăĄă‚ƒă‚“ă“ – $15.95

Menchanko-Tei
Waikiki Trade Center
2255 Kuhio Ave, Suite S
Honolulu, HI 96815 (map)
(808) 924-8366
Daily 11am-11:30pm

And finally… we end with another Ramen "event" that recently occurred, this time from Shokudo Japanese Restaurant (See my review on Shokudo). Like the "Best of Japan: Ramen & Gyoza Festival" event I featured last month from Shirokiya's Yataimura, Shokudo held a similar event over a four day period, dubbed the "Ultimate Ramen Battle", where only 300 bowls of ramen were made available per day at $10 each. The days and hours were a bit strange (if you blinked, you missed it), but I was able to get to the one I wanted to: Day 2's Ultimate Ramen "Goku" from Japan's Chef Hide Kawahara (on 10/18/11).

The Ultimate Ramen "Goku" from Japan's Chef Hide Kawahara - $10
The Ultimate Ramen "Goku" from Japan's Chef Hide Kawahara – $10

It was served with a spoonful of sizzling sesame seed oil that made the green onions on top snap, crackle and pop. +1 for style points. LOL! And although the local style noodles didn't match that well, the tonkotsu broth was off the chain! I would go as far as to say that it might even be the best base I've tasted in Hawaii so far. It's a shame they won't be serving it again. 😩

Rick Nakama (@RickNakama) tweeting his bowl
Rick Nakama (@RickNakama) tweeting his bowl

Side Note: Although the original invitation called this the Ultimate Ramen "Goku" from Japan's Chef Hide Kawahara, the voting ballot when we got there said it was the Sizzling Tonkotsu Ramen "Goku" from Japan's Chef Yusuke Kawahara FYI.

Day 1 (10/17/11) featured the Premium "Tsukemen" from Japan's Chef Hiroshi Shigematsu, which social media extraordinaire Melissa Chang (@Melissa808) was able to experience.

Premium "Tsukemen" from Japan's Chef Hiroshi Shigematsu [Photo Credit: Melissa Chang - NonstopHonolulu.com]
Premium "Tsukemen" from Japan's Chef Hiroshi Shigematsu [Photo Credit: Melissa Chang – NonstopHonolulu.com]

Day 3 (10/19/11) was the Okinawa So-Ki Soba from Izakaya Naru's Chef Hiro Akiyama. Here's Brandon Suyeoka's (@WeHeartHawaii) shot from that day.

Okinawa So-Ki Soba from Izakaya Naru's Chef Hiro Akiyama [Photo Credit: Brandon Suyeoka]
Okinawa So-Ki Soba from Izakaya Naru's Chef Hiro Akiyama [Photo Credit: Brandon Suyeoka]

Shokudo closed out the battle on Day 4 (10/20/11) with the DaKine Curry Miso Ramen from Shokudo's own Chef Hiro Hosoda. Here's @StarletShay's photo from that day.

DaKine Curry Miso Ramen from Shokudo's own Chef Hiro Hosoda [Photo Credit: @StarletShay]
DaKine Curry Miso Ramen from Shokudo's own Chef Hiro Hosoda [Photo Credit: @StarletShay]

I didn't see any kind of announcement as to who the winner was, but a quick call in to Shokudo told me that Day 3's Okinawa So-Ki Soba from Izakaya Naru's Chef Hiro Akiyama was the ramen that came out on top. Lucky Brandon!

Incidentally, on normal days, Shokudo serves three different types of ramen for $9.95 each: The Spicy Miso Ramen (Ramen noodles served in spicy miso paste broth topped with seasoned pork and Chinese chives), the Tokyo Shoyu Ramen (Ramen noodles served in shoyu broth topped with charsiu, bamboo shoots, onions , and half a hard boiled egg) and the Ox Tail Ramen (Ox tail and assorted vegetables are braised more than 6 hours in house. Ramen noodles are added in for the ultimate comfort food).

Ox Tail Ramen ă‚Șックă‚čăƒ†ăƒŒăƒ«ăƒ©ăƒŒăƒĄăƒł (Ox tail and assorted vegetables are braised more than 6 hours in house. Ramen noodles are added in for the ultimate comfort food) - $9.95
Ox Tail Ramen ă‚Șックă‚čăƒ†ăƒŒăƒ«ăƒ©ăƒŒăƒĄăƒł (Ox tail and assorted vegetables are braised more than 6 hours in house. Ramen noodles are added in for the ultimate comfort food) – $9.95

Shokudo Japanese Restaurant & Bar
Ala Moana Pacific Center
1585 Kapiolani Blvd
Honolulu, HI 96814
(808) 941-3701
Mon-Thu & Sun 11:30am-1am
Fri-Sat: 11:30am-2am
Twitter: @Shokudo

Wow, two parts already in the books! This series seems to be flying by too quickly! Don't let it ennnnd! 😛

Nah, no worries, I've still got lots of ramen for y'all from Kanpai Bar & Grill, Mr. Ojisan, Yakitori Yoshi, Aiea Bowl, Chinpei, Taiyo, Sumo, Rai Rai, Ichiben, Genki, Ton Ton, Nishi Mon Cho, Ramen-Ya, Ezogiku and Kiwami Ramen!

If you have any other suggestions, post them in the comment area below or send them using the form on the right. Thanks a bunch!

Part I |  Part II  | Part III | Part IV | Part V

Let’s Get On With the Shokudo

August 1, 2007

Pops and I have this ongoing joke/battle with each other about where the best Japanese eats are around town. Hailing directly from the heart of Tokyo, he’s got this unyielding, old school, traditional Japanese palate, while I have more of an open “nu skool” hunger for innovative dining experiences. Who’s right? Let’s get it on and see shall we?

When you think of traditional Japanese fare, you think tsukemono, miso soup, okara, chawanmushi, nabeyaki udon, oden, tonkatsu, and much more. Oxtail rahmen, sushi pizza, spicy tuna summer rolls, or beef tataki with balsamic sushi doesn’t exactly enter the mind. As well, sliding shoji or fusuma doors, tatami mats, and servers dressed in yukata kimonos are all what you would relate to a traditional Japanese restaurant. Not, funky light fixtures and eclectic design aspects, in an upbeat, colorful setting.

Inside Shokudo

I think this is where I’m losing pops.

Shokudo Japanese Restaurant & Bar, located on the ground floor of the Ala Moana Pacific Center on Kapiolani Boulevard (next to Angelo Pietro), opened its doors on March 2nd, 2005 and has been rolling ever since. In their first year in Hawaii, they earned the Gold Hale `Aina Award for “Best Japanese Restaurant” and have continued to garner accolades since. As part of a franchise of Dream Dining Honolulu LLC, they have since successfully spawned a second store by the name of Tokyo Table in La Cienega California in late December 2006.

Dream who? Dining what? Shokudo Restaurant Manager Geraldine Jordan details the history: “Tetsuya Emura, President & CEO of Dream Dining Honolulu LLC. d.b.a. Shokudo Japanese Restaurant & Bar, once occupied many important roles in management for Watami Food Service Co. in Japan. Watami is a food service conglomerate that owns 400 restaurants which operates 10 different types of restaurants. In 1998, he was appointed the position of the founding CEO of T.G.I. Friday’s Japan, Inc. This company established a subsidiary of Watami Co. in a joint venture between Carlson Restaurants Worldwide, Inc. Watami Co. acquired a T.G.I. Friday’s restaurant in Guam that gained him the invaluable experiences with the unfamiliar laws, foreign business custom, and new market. He also got involved in the setting up of a Japanese Izakaya restaurant named ‘Watami’ in Hong Kong. His successes and invaluable experiences from Watami had led him to venture on his own and introduce Japanese food culture overseas.”

One of the greatest things about your dining experience at Shokudo is just that, it’s an experience. I’ve been here for large parties (private room holds up to 20-25 people), after work get-togethers (excellent bar selection, including wine, beer, sake, shochu and vodka sodas), the first stop of a bachelor party night (don’t ask), and date nights with the lady, and all experiences proved to be equally fulfilling, festive and fun. Taking one look at the company info page on their web site, it’s not hard to understand why. They take great pride in balancing and enriching their customers, employees and company to create what they refer to as the Triangle Theory. Jordan explains:

“The Triangle Theory and philosophy is one of the main reasons why I came to join the company in the first place. It consists of three major aspects: the employees, the guests, and the company. It is important to harmoniously balance and equally enrich these areas to build a wholesome and successful business. It is also good for the community to raise these values in their business. We have to understand that the business success is due to the employees that will take care of our guests. And if our guest is well taken cared of, we create loyalty. My past experiences working in the food and beverage in larger corporation may have etched somewhat of this theory in their mission statement, but was never practiced or really valued. Look at it like a tripod. If one leg is in poor condition or missing, the result will lead the tripod to fall. It’s really a simple analogy yet so profound with fundamentals to building a successful business.”

With everything now in perfect harmony, let’s get to the food!

Shokudo’s selection is as eclectic as its interior design. Research & Development Manager Norimasa Okazaki is responsible for most of the 60 or so diverse dishes they carry. A few of the items on their seasonal and grand menu have been influenced by the staff that Nori could not resist putting in the lineup.

Their best seller is the Chicken Karaage. Not particularly unique on its own, but with the Spicy Tartar Sauce, it gives it that extra oomph that you’re looking for.

Chicken Karaage with Spicy Tartar Sauce
Chicken Karaage with Spicy Tartar Sauce

According to Jordan, other popular dishes include their homemade fresh tofu, tofu salad, Ishiyaki (hot stone bowls), and the mouth watering Honey Toast.

Honey Toast
Honey Toast

But are you going to take the Restaurant Manger’s word for it or mine? 😉 (kidding Geri!)

I’ve had the Chicken Karaage with Spicy Tartar Sauce, homemade fresh tofu and of course, the Honey Toast, and yes, I agree with you peeps that these are definitely the must-haves. However, I’m not one to go with the crowd. I run with scissors and talk to the driver while the bus is in motion. You can’t stop me! 😛

For me, the one constant is their Agedashi Tofu. Good lord! Deep fried and covered with katsuobushi, two types of negi (onions) and their shoyu-based sauce, it’s Fergalicious!

Agedashi Tofu
Agedashi Tofu

Other personal favorites include the Rock Shrimp,

Rock Shrimp
Rock Shrimp

the Clam Miso Soup,

Clam Miso Soup
Clam Miso Soup

and the Fried Chicken with Sweet & Spicy Sauce.

Fried Chicken with Sweet & Spicy Sauce
Fried Chicken with Sweet & Spicy Sauce

If you’re bringing a hot date here, some fun things to try are one of the many variations of Vodka Soda,

Grape Calpico Vodka Soda
Grape Calpico Vodka Soda

the Honey Toast of course, or the Garlic Marlin Seared on Hot Plate.

Garlic Marlin Seared on Hot Plate
Garlic Marlin Seared on Hot Plate

This is a truly interactive dish and can prove to be the ice breaker you need to save this “hot” date of yours. The seasoned garlic marlin comes raw and is cooked by you on a provided hot plate.

(! – World-Wide-Ed Tip: Next time you stop by, be sure to sign up for their Dream Diner E-Frequent Member Card! It’s free and will collect valuable points (special hours will earn you double points) every time you dine there, good for special savings and a 1 in 20 chance to win a lottery prize giveaway. Best of all, you automatically earn a one time $25 birthday reward, which you can redeem during your birthday month.)

Future plans are to open up more restaurants in the L.A. area by the end of the year, and continue to service their loyal customers here in Hawaii.

“We can’t thank the community enough for all their love and support. Without the community support, we would not exist. But I cannot forget to mention our staff that truly loves serving our guests that they developed a bond beyond business. Some of our regular guests are like family to us. And we welcome anyone to join our family here at Shokudo Japanese Restaurant and Bar.” says Jordan.

As soon as I publish this article, I’m sending the URL to pops. It won’t be long until he joins me back in the Nu Skool…

The Shokudo Management Staff (L to R): Sam Eligio (Operation Manager), Takaaki Fujii (General Manager), Justin Mizufuka (MIT/Manager in Training), Kellyn Higa (MIT/Manager in Training, Geraldine Jordan (Restaurant Manager), Yuji Shimojo (Kitchen Manager), Eiji Kato (Kitchen Manager in Training), Takahide Kukidome (HR and Kitchen Manager in Training).
The Shokudo Management Staff (L to R): Sam Eligio (Operation Manager), Takaaki Fujii (General Manager), Justin Mizufuka (MIT/Manager in Training), Kellyn Higa (MIT/Manager in Training, Geraldine Jordan (Restaurant Manager), Yuji Shimojo (Kitchen Manager), Eiji Kato (Kitchen Manager in Training), Takahide Kukidome (HR and Kitchen Manager in Training).

Shokudo Japanese Restaurant & Bar
Ala Moana Pacific Center, Ground Floor
1585 Kapiolani Boulevard
Honolulu, Hawaii 96814 (map)
(808) 941-3701
Sunday-Thursday: 11:30am to 1am
Friday-Saturday: 11:30am to 2am
E-mail: InfoSHOKUDO@hawaii.rr.com