Posts Tagged ‘Bari Carroll’

Hokkaido Ramen Santouka – Japan Style Ramen Opens Shop Outside Don Quijote

November 1, 2013

I know it’s been a little over a month since they opened, but now that another little person has taken residence in my home, the outside life has been severely limited. So when a morning meeting in town recently got on the schedule, my mouth started to water with the possibilities for lunch.

My first desire was to actually try Agu Ramen in Moiliili. Brah! Based on all the pictures I’ve seen online, that place looks legit. Seriously looked like some of the meanest ramen joints I’ve eaten at in Japan. Unfortunately, they are still currently only open during dinner hours (from 5pm).

The other “hot” ramen place that has been hitting the coconut wireless lately was Hokkaido Ramen Santouka, a Japanese chain with 52 locations spanning the globe in places like California, Chicago, New Jersey, Canada, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, and Thailand, in addition to Japan where it all got started. This is where today’s ramen will be.

Outside Hokkaido Ramen Santouka
Outside Hokkaido Ramen Santouka

Located in the old Ezogiku location in the food court area right outside Don Quijote Honolulu, Santouka has a reputation (for good reason) of having a long wait. Following my mid-morning meeting, I picked up my friend Bari somewhat early in the hopes of avoiding that crowd. We got there a little before 11:30, and it was already packed (they open at 11am)! Luckily, we were only the second group on their sign in sheet, and there were a handful of groups just finishing up so our wait was only about 5-10 minutes. #BoomKanani!

We got a seat at the “bar” which had some strange saddling type chairs to sit on. I wish I took a picture of it. Not long after looking at the menu, the waitress asked if we were ready to order. Not quite ready, I hastily spurted out miso ramen. Boring, yes, but that’s always a safe bet.

I was actually interested in a thicker soup base like the kotteri or paitan bases we’re all used to from places like Tenkaippin or Yotteko-Ya, but according to the menu’s description, it sounded like I would be ok: “Santouka’s mild and creamy broth, made from pork rib and broth is deliberately simmered for two days. We maintain the cooking standards of Japan at every Santouka location worldwide.”

Soup bases be simmerin'
Soup bases be simmerin’

The wait for the ramen wasn’t long. In less than 10 minutes, behold… a steaming bowl of miso ramen was in front of me.

Miso Ramen - Miso flavored ramen. Pork broth seasoned with miso (fermented soy bean paste) - $9.50
Miso Ramen – Miso flavored ramen. Pork broth seasoned with miso (fermented soy bean paste) – $9.50

The options here are pretty standard: Shio (salt), Shoyu (soy sauce), Miso and Kara Miso (spicy miso). You can apparently choose the fattiness of the soup base and the firmness of the noodle, but if you don’t ask, they’ll give it to you Japanese style (standard soup base with al dente/firm noodles).

You can order from three different sizes: Small, Medium and Large with a different price for each one. For the Shio, Shoyu and Miso, the Small is $8.50, the Medium is $9.50 and the Large is $10.50, while the Kara Miso is $8.99 for the Small, $9.99 for the Medium, and $10.99 for the Large. The photo above was a Medium. Bari went for the Medium Kara Miso and asked for it to be “extra spicy” as well.

Kara Miso Ramen - Spicy hot miso flavored ramen. Pork broth seasoned with hot spices and miso (fermented soy bean paste) - $9.99 [Photo Credit: Bari Carroll]
Kara Miso Ramen – Spicy hot miso flavored ramen. Pork broth seasoned with hot spices and miso (fermented soy bean paste) – $9.99 [Photo Credit: Bari Carroll]

The color is misleading because – according to Bari – it wasn’t that spicy… Although the sweat pouring out of his forehead said otherwise. 8)

Overall, it was an OK experience there. Ramen was fresh and fast with the noodle firmness I wanted. Soup base wasn’t quite what I wanted, but good for being miso based. Workers and clientele were mostly from Japan, which is always a good sign. Hopefully, things won’t change once they send the grand opening employees back to Japan. Then again, it will probably take me a while to get back out of the house again anyway…

For more on ono kine ramen restaurants here in Hawaii, check out my Hawaii Ramen Quest series here: Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V

Hokkaido Ramen Santouka
801 Kaheka Street (food court outside Don Quijote Honolulu)
Honolulu, HI 96814 (Street View)
(808) 941-1101
Open 11am-11pm daily

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Hawaii Ramen Quest – Part IV

January 1, 2012
Part I | Part II | Part III |  Part IV  | Part V

We’re already 3 deep in our Hawaii Ramen Quest, but before we get all up into the 4th, I wanted to check in with y’all real quick-like, to see how your holiday season went. Didja get to cruise with family and friends and pound ono kine grinds? Ain’t that da best? And what about your resolutions for the new year? Hopefully, one of them wasn’t to lose weight ’cause here comes another flurry of ramen photos to make you hungry! ๐Ÿ˜‰

First up is Kiwami Ramen. I’ve heard a lot about this place (from reputable resources!) and have been dying to go there for the longest time, but Waiks ain’t exactly the easiest place to get to, or park for that matter… So when a meeting in Waikiki recently came about, I planned my lunch around a visit to this authentic tasting ramen shop in Waikiki Shopping Plaza’s food court.

Taking the escalator down to the Waikiki Shopping Plaza's Food Court
Taking the escalator down to the Waikiki Shopping Plaza’s Food Court

At first glance, this place looked legit. Japanese customers (from the muthaland kine) being waited on by a hardcore Japanese wait staff with Ramen Chef Yasuyoshi Sato manning the ship. I kept having to remind myself that d’uh… we were in Waikiki, where most of the Japanese tourists who visit us in this great state, congregate (mate!).

Then came the food. Although we ordered just ramen, we were given a complimentary small bowl of their Charsiu Rice. Wasn’t quite sure if it was because we were kama`aina, super handsome ๐Ÿ˜‰ or if it was complimentary for everyone, but I wasn’t about to question it. Into my trap went the pork!

Small Charsiu (Roast Pork) Rice - $2.50
Small Charsiu (Roast Pork) Rice – $2.50

It wasn’t quite as flavorful and tasty as my favorite from Yotteko-Ya, but it was an ono start nonetheless… and it was FREE! ๐Ÿ™‚

Then came my jam-packed order. While most ramens on Kiwami’s menu hover in the $8-$10 range, I saw a big ticket item at the top of the menu, smack dab in the middle. Referred to as the “Special Topping” Ramen, this $13.75 option – which included charsiu, egg, bamboo, corn and green onions – was the one I just had to have.


“Special Topping” Shoyu Ramen – $13.75 (Miso & Shoyu Thick Noodle options are $14.25)

Their soup base comes from a chicken feet & fruit combination that is boiled together for over 5 hours. Chiyu (chicken oil) is also added to select ramen dishes.

My buddy Todd got the Shoyu Thick Noodle ramen option, which resembled the kotteri style of ramen that I was looking for a little more, came with a shoyu based soup with pork fat. Here he is showing off his choice (and trying his best to smile).

Todd with his Shoyu Thick Noodle ramen - $9.25
Todd with his Shoyu Thick Noodle ramen – $9.25

You can really tell their attention to detail when it comes to the flavor and temperature of the soup and the consistency of the noodles. In fact, according to their web site, Chef Sato stands by three simple rules: 1) the ramen must be served quickly, 2) the soup must be hot, and 3) the taste must be consistent. They definitely hit on all three. So much so that I am looking forward to going back to try it again (and again).

Kiwami Ramen
Waikiki Shopping Plaza
2250 Kalakaua Ave, Suite LL102
Honolulu, HI 96815 (Street View)
(808) 924-6744
Daily: 11 am – 2:30 pm (lunch)
Daily: 5 pm – 10 pm (dinner)

 

My earliest memory of pounding ramen in Hawaii was at an Ezogiku, and, looking at their web site, it looks as though I’m right. They opened their first ramen specialty shop here way back in 1974! Wow, that was before some of us were born! Nobody I know, but still… 8)

With only a limited supply of poor quality photos of take out dishes from a previous visit to the Pearl City Ezogiku, I was in dire need of some better looking shots for this piece. Four friends/co-workers stepped up to the plate for me as we took a little field trip to the Ezogiku in Waimalu for some quickie lunch hour fooding.

Maribel, Trina, Wendy and Dennis ready to grind at Ezogiku Waimalu
Maribel, Trina, Wendy and Dennis ready to grind at Ezogiku Waimalu

Afraid that I would tease her for ordering yet another combo (see Hawaii Ramen Quest – Part III) Maribel threw me off the scent by ordering something totally different than her norm. She went with the Seafood Ankake Crispy Noodle.

Seafood Ankake Crispy Noodle - $7.25
Seafood Ankake Crispy Noodle – $7.25

Trina was torn between the Seafood Champon and the Ankake Ramen, but, since she likes her food spicy, she went with a suggestion from aunty (our waitress): the Spicy Ankake Ramen.

Spicy Ankake Ramen - $7.75
Spicy Ankake Ramen – $7.75

Wendy seems to like her fried noodles (see Hawaii Ramen Quest – Part III). She’s not really helping a brutha out on this RAMEN quest is she!? Haha, nah, nah Wen! Variety is good right? Here’s her order of Pork & Vegetable Fried Noodle.

Pork & Vegetable Fried Noodle (yakisoba) - $6.25
Pork & Vegetable Fried Noodle (yakisoba) – $6.25

Ezogiku is known for their Miso. In fact, their miso paste, fermented for over 2 months, is homemade and produced only out of their Honten (Main Branch at Waseda, Tokyo). The recipe, consisting of more than 30 spices, is super secret and is only known by their late Ezogiku chief cook Tomoji Onishi’s successor and founder Kenichiro Mitsui. Whether he knew all of this or not ๐Ÿ˜› , Dennis ordered the Miso Ramen like a champ.

Miso Ramen - $6.25
Miso Ramen – $6.25

I went with the other dish that Trina was hung up on: the Seafood Champon Ramen. It was tasty, but reminded me of many of the ramens covered in Part III. Perhaps I’ll go miso next time.

Seafood Champon Ramen - $7.25
Seafood Champon Ramen – $7.25

Although Ezogiku started its Sapporo style ramen in Japan, they have several locations in Hawaii as well as Vancouver, BC. Fun tip: The name Ezogiku derives from the two words Ezo & Giku. Ezo is the original name of the island of Hokkaido (where their Sapporo style ramen originated) and Giku (kiku) means chrysanthemum, the national flower of Japan. You can’t say you never learn anything from my articles now. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Ezogiku
Waimalu Shopping Center
98-020 Kamehameha Hwy
Aiea, HI 96701 (Street View)
(808) 488-9850
Daily: 11am-10pm

 

I noticed this next place when lunching it with my boy Bari one day at our usual hotspot: Mama Woo’s BBQ on South King Street. Located on the backside of this tiny strip mall, the sign and entrance to Chinpei Ramen is rather unassuming.

Sign outside Chinpei Ramen
Sign outside Chinpei Ramen

The interior still has that old school feeling (I remember eating here when it was an old Japanese restaurant long ago), but it is very clean with new tables and chairs, paint and furnishings. One freshly painted wall then takes us back to old school again with hand-written menu items taped haphazardly throughout.

Handwritten menu items at Chinpei Ramen
Handwritten menu items at Chinpei Ramen

I ask the waitress in her native Japanese what the most popular ramen is and she tells me it’s the Samma-Men. Samma-Men it is!

Large Samma-Men (Thick Soup) Ramen - $9.30 ($7.60 - Small / $8.30 - Regular)
Large Samma-Men (Thick Soup) Ramen – $9.30 ($7.60 – Small / $8.30 – Regular)

You can also choose the size of noodle you’d like (Egg Thick Noodle or Thin Noodle) in a variety of styles (udon, yam noodle or shirataki, harusame, or organic flour noodle).

Bari and I were in the mood for Shumai as well so we ordered the 6 piece. Here’s Bari with the Shumai and a mouthful of Samma-Men. Sorry B! 8)

Bari with his Samma-Men and our 6-piece Shumai order ($5.93)
Bari with his Samma-Men and our 6-piece Shumai order ($5.93)

You can order the Shumai and Vegetable Gyoza in quantities of 4, 6, 8, 10 or 12, and the regular Gyoza (Pot Sticker) goes even further with additional quantities of 14, 16, 18, 21, or 24!

Chinpei Ramen
2080 S King Street
Honolulu, HI 96826 (Street View)
(808) 947-5919
Tue-Fri: 11am-2:30pm (lunch)
Tue-Fri: 5pm-10pm (dinner)
Sat: 11am-10pm
Sun: 11am-9pm
Closed: Mondays

 

On a rare drive out to the Windward side, we decided to hit up Rai Rai Ramen in Kailua before taking some hacks on the Bay View Mini-Putt Pali course. I remember the experience (taste) being really good at Rai Rai, with various new and special menu items, and vowing to return again the next time I set foot (or tire) on Oneawa Street.

Rai Rai Ramen (Kailua) sign
Rai Rai Ramen (Kailua) sign

Wifey had the Miso Ramen, which included konbu, wakame, char siu, kamaboko, green onions and garlic chips.

Miso Ramen - $7.50
Miso Ramen – $7.50

I got something off their new (at the time) menu called Hot & Spicy Seafood Ramen. It wasn’t as spicy as I expected, which was a good thing since I am still attending Spicy Training University. ๐Ÿ˜›

Hot & Spicy Seafood Ramen - $9.75
Hot & Spicy Seafood Ramen – $9.75

I also ordered a side of Fried Oysters for good measure.

Side Order of Fried Oyster (3 Piece) - $3.25
Side Order of Fried Oyster (3 Piece) – $3.25

Rai Rai Ramen (Kailua)
124 Oneawa Street
Kailua, HI 96734
(808) 230-8208
Wed-Mon: 11am-8:30pm
Closed Tuesday

 

I will refer to these final two locations as our one hit wonders. Not necessarily because it’s the only ramen option they got. Quite the opposite actually. More so because it’s the only photo I took at the time. *blush* Check it.

Mr. Ojisan is one of my friend Grant’s favorite restaurants. Amongst a menu chock-full of Japanese eats, they carry 5 different ramens: Miso Charsiu Ramen, Vegetable Charsiu Ramen, Cold Ramen, Tonkotsu Miso Ramen (which I must go back and try!) and the one I got on this particular visit: the Ojisan Ramen.

Ojisan Ramen - $8.95
Ojisan Ramen – $8.95

Mr. Ojisan Japanese Restaurant
1016 Kapahulu Ave #140
Honolulu, HI 96816 (Street View)
(808) 735-4455
Mon-Fri: 11am-1:45pm (Lunch)
Mon-Thu: 5:30pm-10:30pm (Dinner)
Fri-Sat: 5:30pm-12am (Dinner), with Karaoke from 10pm-2am

 

Even though Yakitori Yoshi is primarily a yakitori house, they still have three ramens on their menu: Butter Ramen, Tonkotsu Ramen (which, again, I must try), and the Yoshi Ramen below.

Yoshi Ramen - $5.90
Yoshi Ramen – $5.90

At least I think it’s the Yoshi Ramen. My friend Rick, who was the one who actually ate it, can’t even remember eating at the restaurant, let alone what he ordered that night. LOL! We’ll go with the Yoshi Ramen. ๐Ÿ˜›

Yakitori Yoshi
1427 Makaloa Street
Honolulu, HI 96814 (Street View)
(808) 941-6891
Daily: 5:30pm-12am

 

And there you have it. Part 4 of the Hawaii Ramen Quest is in the books. Next month, we wrap things up with a visit to Sun Noodle Factory and an interview with the man himself Hidehito Uki. Space permitting, I’ll also try to mention a few must eat ramen spots in the muthaland itself… Japan.

Now get back to your New Year’s diet! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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

Hawaii Ramen Quest – Part I

October 1, 2011
ย Part Iย  | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V

Anyone who knows anything about me, knows that my love for ramen runs deep. It borders on obsession. So much so that I’m convinced my mom cut her milk with ramen soup before popping the bottle into my mouth.

So it was a no-brainer to follow up my popular “Poke Paradise” series with this here Ramen Quest, a pursuit for the perfect bowl of ramen, right here in Hawaii.

Now when I say ramen (or rahmen / ใƒฉใƒผใƒกใƒณ as we Nihonjins like to call it), I’m not talking about the localized interpretation of it referred to here as saimin (no offense saimin lovers). I’m talking about the hardcore, straight from the muthaland kine noodle and soup combination that you fantasize of. I’ve tasted some of the best there is in Japan, and have been living to replicate that euphoria ever since. (See, I told you I was obsessed! 8) )

First up is Yotteko-Ya, located on the west end of McCully Shopping Center (opposite Fook Yuen).

Yotteko-Ya entrance
Yotteko-Ya entrance

The specialty here is their Paitan soup base, which is described as a “richer, more flavorful chicken & pork based broth” and simmered for hours. In it, swims their perfectly cooked, al dente (Japanese style) noodles and homemade chashu pork, along with green onions, seaweed and sesame seeds.

Paitan Ramen from Yotteko-Ya
Paitan Ramen from Yotteko-Ya

They also have an amazing Chashu Gohan (which includes chunks of chashu similar to the one in the ramen) that my wife goes absolutely gaga over.

Chashu Gohan
Chashu Gohan

Our go-to meals here are usually the Paitan C Set, which includes the Paitan Ramen, Chashu Gohan (or Mini Yakibuta Chahan), and Gyoza, or the Paitan D Set, which includes the Paitan Ramen, Chashu Gohan (or Mini Yakibuta Chahan), and Karaage (fried chicken).

Paitan D Set: Paitan Ramen, Chashu Gohan, & (Chicken) Karaage - $12.95
Paitan D Set: Paitan Ramen, Chashu Gohan, & (Chicken) Karaage – $12.95

It should come as no surprise that the ramen I featured first in this series is a franchise straight from Japan. In fact, during a trip there in ’08, we actually went to the one in Odaiba.

Yotteko-Ya in Odaiba Japan (Tokyo)
Yotteko-Ya in Odaiba Japan (Tokyo)

Here’s a look at what the Chashu Ramen looked like there.

Chashu ramen from Odaiba's Yotteko-Ya in Tokyo
Chashu ramen from Odaiba’s Yotteko-Ya in Tokyo

Yotteko-Ya
1960 Kapiolani Blvd #214
Honolulu, HI 96826 (map)
(808) 946-2900
Lunch Hours: Mon-Sun: 11am-2pm
Dinner Hours: Mon-Sat: 5pm-11pm, Sun: 5pm-9pm
@ramen_yottekoya

I first covered our next spot back when they were located in Waikiki.

Owner Scott Suzui and his wife Mayumi outside the original Tenkaippin location in Waikiki
Owner Scott Suzui and his wife Mayumi outside the original Tenkaippin location in Waikiki

The restaurant is called Tenkaippin Ramen (which is also a franchise straight from Japan) and is owned by Scott Suzui and his wife Mayumi. If you think they look familiar, they have since become local celebrities of sorts, thanks to their show on OC16 called “Ultimate Japan”.

This is my go-to restaurant whenever I’m in the area, and I usually like to bring along a friend or two. On this occasion, I brought my boy Bari who seems to be enjoying his bowl of ramen just a little too much. ๐Ÿ˜›

Bari loves his Tenkaippin Ramen
Bari loves his Tenkaippin Ramen

Similar to Yotteko-Ya, Tenkaippin is known for their soup base (known here as kotteri) which is accomplished by stewing chicken and vegetables for over 10 hours. Most ingredients are actually flown in fresh from Japan too!

Tenkaippin's Kotteri Ramen - $8.75
Tenkaippin’s Kotteri Ramen – $8.75

Here’s a peek at what it actually looks like to scoop a mouthful of noodles from this thick, kotteri soup base.

Video of Kotteri Ramen from Tenkaippin’s

 

Tenkaippin Ramen
617 Kapahulu Ave
Honolulu, HI 96815 (map)
(808) 732-1211
Mon-Thu: 11am-10pm
Fri-Sat: 11am-11pm

I had to fly all the way to Waikoloa on the Big Island (FBI!) to get this next bowl of yummy goodness. It’s the D.K.’s Crab Ramen from Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar (Queen’s MarketPlace, Waikoloa Beach Resort).

D.K.'s Crab Ramen and Asian Truffle Broth with King Crab, Cilantro, Thai Basil and Mild Jalapenos - $17.95
D.K.’s Crab Ramen and Asian Truffle Broth with King Crab, Cilantro, Thai Basil and Mild Jalapenos – $17.95

One word of caution. After tantalizing our taste buds with this one while on vacation at Waikoloa, we were excited to have it again (and again) at the Sansei closer to home (Waikiki). It was a HUGE disappointment. It did not come close to what we remember enjoying FBI-style, and, if you take a look at the photo below from Sansei Waikiki, you’ll see that it looked nothing like it either.

Disappointing Crab Ramen from Sansei Waikiki
Disappointing Crab Ramen from Sansei Waikiki

We actually tried our luck again on a trip to Maui, and the one at the Kapalua Resort turned out to also be a letdown.

Disappointing Crab Ramen from Sansei Kapalua
Disappointing Crab Ramen from Sansei Kapalua

We’re actually afraid to go back to try the one at Waikoloa in case it was a McDreamy, one time (all-stars-aligned type of) thing. Sansei peeps, if you’re reading this, what’s the scoops?

Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar (Queens Market Place, Waikoloa Beach Resort)
201 Waikoloa Beach Drive Suite 801
Waikoloa, HI 96738 (map)
(808) 669-6286
Dinner Nightly: 5:30pm-10pm
Late Night Dining: Friday and Saturday: 10pm-1am

And finally, talk about good timing… Shirokiya is in the middle of their “Best of Japan: Ramen & Gyoza Festival”, where they bring in popular ramen (and gyoza) vendors from Japan to be featured at their new Yataimura area for two weeks at a time.

The first in the series (featured from 08/23-09/05) was Menya Ifudoudou Ramen from Osaka who served 7,658 bowls during their two week stint! They presented their Kuroton Shibori (dark) and Akaton Shibori (spicy/red) options. Here’s a look at both:

Kuroton Shibori Ramen from Menya Ifudoudou Ramen from Osaka Japan - $8.95
Kuroton Shibori Ramen from Menya Ifudoudou Ramen from Osaka Japan – $8.95

Akaton Shibori Ramen from Menya Ifudoudou Ramen from Osaka Japan - $8.95
Akaton Shibori Ramen from Menya Ifudoudou Ramen from Osaka Japan – $8.95

I don’t know if it was because it was the last day of the series and they were running low on noodles, but the portions were REALLY skimpy.

The second in the series (featured from 09/06-09/19) was Manshuya Ga Ichiban from Fukuoka who served 9,619 bowls of their “Original” Tonkotsu Shibori Ramen. Due to my crazy life as a new dad, I missed this series, but my buddy Rick Nakama was able to check it out (three times!). Here’s his Takana Shibori bowl:

Takana style Tonkotsu Shibori Ramen from Manshuya Ga Ichiban from Fukuoka - $9.95 [Photo Courtesy: Rick Nakama]
Takana style Tonkotsu Shibori Ramen from Manshuya Ga Ichiban from Fukuoka – $9.95 [Photo Courtesy: Rick Nakama]

Rick’s main complaints were about the quantity (again) and the inconsistency of the ramen noodles and taste.

The third in the series (which is currently being featured as I write this – 09/20-10/03) is Hakata Chouten from Fukuoka. I was most excited for this because some of the best ramen I’ve ever tasted in Japan came from the Hakata area in Fukuoka.

UPDATE: This series served 7,805 customers.

Barikoku Negi Tonkotsu Ramen from Hakata Chouten in Fukuoka - $10.95
Barikoku Negi Tonkotsu Ramen from Hakata Chouten in Fukuoka – $10.95

The soup base was pretty tasty, but, again, the quantity was very minimal compared to what we had to pay: $10.95!

Rick Nakama finishing his bowl while Russ Sumida "poses" with mine. 8)
Rick Nakama finishing his bowl while Russ Sumida “poses” with mine. 8)

The fourth in the series happens from October 4th through the 17th and features Hokkaido’s Sapporo Menya Yoshiki who will have three choices of soup base: shiro (white), kuro (black) and aka (red). Following that will be Fukuoka’s Hide Chan Ramen from October 24th-November 6th.

Shirokiya Yataimura (at Ala Moana Shopping Center)
1450 Ala Moana Blvd, Ste 2250
Honolulu, HI 96814 (map)
(808) 973-9111
Mon-Sat: 9:30am-9pm
Sun: 9:30am-7pm

So there you have it. Some interesting options for ramen here in Hawaii right? And that was just part 1! I still have at least 4 more juicy parts to this series (including Gomaichi, Goma Tei, Menchanko-Tei, Chinpei, Kiwami, etc.), but if you have any others suggestions on where I should hit up, holla atcho boy! Shoots!

ย Part Iย  | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V

Wedding Entrance Video – Full Version

August 18, 2009

I know, I know… I’ve probably mentioned or blogged about our wedding like 4 billion times now already, but I swear… this will be the last time! (I think). 8)

The other night, we had some peeps over andย caught the amusing footage of our reception entrance dance from our wedding DVD, and it got me thinking about that mysteriously popular video that I posted on Youtubeย a couple months ago (now overย 381,000 views). Since our videographer was too far away and everybody stood up to greet us for the walk in, that 3GP cameraphone video that my friend Chris took is the only proof we have of us dancing (along with some stills).

The problem with that video though, is that it’s only a short clip of the wifey and I, and just a small sampling of everything that had happened before. You see, the wifey and I basically strong armed the shy wedding party to do a little dance (and get down tonight) against their will so I wanted to give them theirs for their willingness to embarrass themselves and just have fun.

Sooo…ย I thought I’d try to piece something together with whatever content I could muster up: that cameraphone footage, video from the DVD, still photos, (whatevahz!) and see what I could come up with.ย The video below is the result. Not bad for a rookie video editor if I do say so myself. ๐Ÿ˜› Enjoy!


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4ymBnScKIM

AND… With all this fun I’m having now with the video editing ack-shone, you’ll be able to see my handiwork again this Thursday when I post my “Q&A with Shane Victorino” blog (where he answers some of your questions)! Stay tuned!

Talk to me!
* Besides us of course ๐Ÿ˜› which dance did you like the best?
* Which song do you like the best?
* Have you seen wedding entrances like this?
* What did you like/not like about um?
* As a member of a wedding party, were you ever strong armed to do something you didn’t want to do?
* Any other wedding party horror stories?
* Will you do this at your up coming wedding?
* Feedback on the rookie editing? Tips/Suggestions for next time?
* If you have any questions about any of the wedding vendors below, just ask!

Mahaloz to:
* The stars of the show…ย our wedding party: Bari Carroll, Grant Lau, Janine Nakatani, Kelvin Ogata, Noele Kajiwara, Jennifer “Shorty” Nishiki and Tommy Baniqued.
* Bruddah Bryan (Emcee)
* Brian Ebisui (DJ)
* Vince Shin and Sharmil Elliott of Love Story Weddings (Photographers)
* Greg Ventura of Advanced Visual Arts (Videographer)
* Chris Kanemura for the 3GP video from his phone

Tinman Tips – A First Timer’s Guide to Tinman Success

August 1, 2009

Late last month, your boy manned up and checked yet another item off the ol’ “bucket list”: Compete in the Hawaii Tinman. On Sunday, July 26th, the 2009 Tinman Triathlon was in full effect and, bright eyed and bushy tailed, I was there yo. Having a couple of marathons already under my belt, I was going into the Tinman thinking it would be another cakewalk. Boy was I mistaken!

The “just have fun” mentality will quickly eat you alive in the Tinman competition if you aren’t properly prepared. Below are the lessons I’ve learned as a first timer that I’d like to pass along to all y’all. Enjoy!

* Take it serious! – unlike the marathon, there are a lot less “just for fun” participants, as made obvious by my finishing rank! LOL! Being fairly athletic and in reasonably good shape does not equal Tinman success. Not training seriously will not only be dangerous to your health, but frustrate the bejesus outta you (when your muscles don’t agree with what your mind is telling them).

* Train! – I would recommend training each activity/concentration successively, in addition to individually. In other words, it’s good to swim until the cows come home, but you should follow it up with a bike and then a swim. Yes, on the same day. My cheater friend Bari (who also did the Tinman with me) wisely took it a little more serious than I and participated in running and biking groups that met up on the weekends. The Heavy Breathers group in the Hawaii Bicycling League has a biking group that goes out on Saturday mornings and the Honolulu Marathon Clinic has a running group that goes out on Sunday mornings. He fully recommends joining them.

* Give yourself time to train – not only is the entrance fee more expensive the later you apply, you need sufficient time to prepare for what your body will go through. We decided to START TRAINING just two months before the race. With busy schedules and other life activities already planned (like that trip to Alaska), my once a week training schedule (at best), definitely did not cut it.

* Get ready to invest – if you’re “newbs” like us and going into it from scratch, be prepared to shell out some pretty pennies in order to get the party started. The bicycle (no, a mountain bike doesn’t count!), helmet, tri-shorts (specially padded swim trunks that are waaaay too tight), no-blister socks, goggles, water bottle, water bottle holder, miscellaneous bike tools/kits/bags, etc., are just some of the things to think about. And that doesn’t include the $80-100 entrance fee. And BTW, don’t laugh at the mountain bike comment. I actually briefly considered doing that (using the mountain bike I already owned) to save me some money. That, and using my snowboarding helmet as a bike helmet. LOL!

* Run the course – don’t use the day of the race to practice running the actual course. Go to Queens and swim the 750 meter (wall to wall to wall) ocean course. Bike the 24+ miles (40K) to and from Hawaii Kai. Jog the 6+ mile (10K) Diamond Head circle. All BEFORE the race! Extra special bonus points if you do all of them back to back as if it were race day. Click here for the specifics on the course paths. Since Bari and I were a little behind schedule, we ended up driving the course by car the day before. Don’t be us. 8)

* Get a good night’s rest – never underestimate the value of a good night’s sleep the night before the race. If you’re a night owl, you might want to consider sleeping early several nights in a row to help your body get used to sleeping at an early hour.

* Fuel up – eat enough food to last you until the late morning/early afternoon hour, as that will probably be your next meal. As they say, eat bananas to help with cramping and carbo-load a couple days before race day.

* Arrive early (Check in starts at 4AM) – if you arrive too late (especially if this is your first time), you will be scrambling around, trying to figure out what you’re supposed to do and where you’re supposed to be. You will probably also have a hard time finding a place to rack your bike once everyone else has settled in and found their spots.

Your view of the check in area pre-race
Your view of the check in area pre-race

* Be prepared – unfortunately, the folks at the Tinman only make your packet available about a week before the race (I could not find a PDF version of it on their site). There is a lot of valuable information in there that you’ll want to read before race day. Your various race numbers (for your bike itself, for your back for the bike portion, for your front for the run portion, sticker for your helmet, etc.) are also in there. Familiarize yourself with what they are and where they go. It also says to mark your left arm and left leg with your number (for the swim portion) before you arrive, but there are volunteers there, the morning of, with markers to help with that. Concerned for our health, Bari and I went to Longs and picked up a non-toxic marker and did it ourselves. The choice is yours. 8)

* Make sure you can handle rough surf – Before the race, Bari’s dad told us that the waves were expected to be 3-5 that morning at Queens. Not sure if it actually got that big, but there was definitely a bit of washing machine action going on. Rough water swimming in the ocean is A LOT harder and different than in your local pool, or even flat water swimming in the ocean for that matter. Since the water was probably the only possible place I could die (if I rested), I concentrated on training my swimming the most. Probably 98% to my 1% bike and 1% run. Although I HIGHLY recommend training the swimming fo sho, I would also say that you need to devote more than 1 and 1 on your bike and run. :

Bari and I struggling at Manoa pool early on
Bari and I struggling at Manoa pool early on

* Stay away from the wall (during the start) – for some reason, the officials for Bari’s group made them go all the way back against the wall. The combination of the crowd and the rough waves and the reef did not bode well for Bari’s foot as he opened up a gash on the bottom prior to starting.

* Enter the water later – if you’re a weak swimmer or don’t have much water endurance, what in the heck are you doing competing in the Tinman!? Hehe. But seriously, if you’re a weak swimmer or don’t have much water endurance, don’t hurry to get to the starting line within your group (you start in groups based on experience, age and gender). You may end up burning up your energy trying to stay afloat for up to 5 minutes until your start time. Plus, if you stay towards the rear of your group, there’s a better chance of the water being less rough and crowded. Well, at least until the group behind you catches up! LOL!

* Buy a good bike! – thanks to my great friend who shall remain nameless, Bari thought it would be a good idea to buy a bike for me from a Craigslist ad. 8) Later, we discovered that we’ve been duped and that the puppy was actually one from Walmart. So even when I was flying it at full blast on the highest gear, everyone continued to whiz right by me. WTH!? Don’t take any chances. Get a good, Tinman quality bike from the beginning, especially if you plan on competing more than once. If you’re not sure, some of the local bike shops may rent bikes out. Here’s the rental information from The Bike Shop.

* Hydrate, especially during the bike portion! – there are NO aid stations during the 24+ mile bike portion of the race. Be sure you have a water bottle or two filled with your favorite fluid (other than hard liquor ๐Ÿ˜› ). I had one bottle of Gatorade and that wasn’t enough, just FYI. If you’re in the same situation, be sure to partition out half for going to Hawaii Kai and the other half for coming back.

Heartbreak Hill in Hawaii Kai - generally speaking, the midway point for the bike ride [Photo Credit: wifey]
Heartbreak Hill in Hawaii Kai – generally speaking, the midway point for the bike ride [Photo Credit: wifey]

* Have a great support system – having your friends’ and family’s support before, during and after the race is priceless.

Kari, Miko and moms waiting patiently (and I stress patiently :P ) for my arrival. [Photo Credit: wifey]
Kari, Miko and moms waiting patiently (and I stress patiently ๐Ÿ˜› ) for my arrival. [Photo Credit: wifey]

Wifey snaggin' some action shots [Photo Credit: Kari Ohara]
Wifey snaggin’ some action shots [Photo Credit: Kari Ohara]

Still in good spirits (for some reason) on Heartbreak Hill [Photo Credit: Kari Ohara]
Still in good spirits (for some reason) on Heartbreak Hill [Photo Credit: Kari Ohara]

The cheering section! Ahaha! [Photo Credit: wifey]
The cheering section! Ahaha! [Photo Credit: wifey]

Making me crack up on the way back down Heartbreak Hill [Photo Credit: wifey]
Making me crack up on the way back down Heartbreak Hill [Photo Credit: wifey]

* Kiss your bum g’bye! – after sitting on a teeny seat for that long, your butt and “special areas” (if you’re a man) will undoubtedly get sore. I’m just sayin’.

* Wear gloves – I underestimated the value of a pair of gloves for that long of a bike ride. Though it was just tender and didn’t quite blister for me, I can see it being a problem for others.

* Be careful on the bike dismount – if you didn’t train properly (or even if you did!), when you dismount your bike, be aware that your legs will be J-e-l-l-o. This happened to me as well as my unnamed friend Bari, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were actually some who ate it coming off of the bike. Just be aware.

* Transitions, transitions, transitions! – Our transition times were just plain ridiculous. Streamline your in-between time to shave precious minutes off your overall time.

* Don’t take pictures – unless you’re a dedicated writer/blogger extraordinaire (like me) ๐Ÿ˜› , don’t stop to smell the roses. Taking mental notes and stopping to take photos during this race is not a good idea for your finishing time. Lesson learned. But then again, we wouldn’t have any wonderful shots like these now would we? *grin*

The start of the run on Kapahulu next to the Honolulu Zoo
The start of the run on Kapahulu next to the Honolulu Zoo

Looking back on Monsarrat Ave, on the way towards Diamond Head
Looking back on Monsarrat Ave, on the way towards Diamond Head

Leaving the first of 3 aid stations at Kapiolani Community College (the 2nd was at the beginning of Elepaio St and the 3rd was at Triangle Park)
Leaving the first of 3 aid stations at Kapiolani Community College (the 2nd was at the beginning of Elepaio St and the 3rd was at Triangle Park)

Much like the Honolulu Marathon, you'll head down 18th Ave towards Kilauea.
Much like the Honolulu Marathon, you’ll head down 18th Ave towards Kilauea.

At this point, my legs were shot. The reason why this photo is looking up towards Diamond Head is because I was walking backwards! Ya gotta do what ya gotta do right? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Fighting the heat on Kilauea before turning right on Elepaio St.
Fighting the heat on Kilauea before turning right on Elepaio St.

Again, much like the marathon, you go up Kahala Ave towards the finish.
Again, much like the marathon, you go up Kahala Ave towards the finish.

Tourists taking in the sights on Kahala Ave
Tourists taking in the sights on Kahala Ave

Aloha story: you see the fella in the blue jogging in the photo above? During the race, he came over and decided to keep a brutha company and jog along with me towards the finish. He was just exercising and wasn’t even in the race! What a nice gesture, especially being that since 5:55AM that morning, I was pretty much on my own. It was nice to have someone to finally talk to. After chatting a bit, we found out that we shared a mutual friend in fellow Honolulu Advertiser blogger Melissa Chang. I Tweeted @Melissa808 after the race to please thank her friend and found find out that his name was Russell. Mahaloz Russell for your company and encouragement!

The fountain off Kalakaua Ave near Kapiolani Park
The fountain off Kalakaua Ave near Kapiolani Park

Cones leading to the finish line
Cones leading to the finish line

Allllmost there! [Photo Credit: Kim Asano]
Allllmost there! [Photo Credit: Kim Asano]

Alas! The goal is in sight!
Alas! The goal is in sight!

Funny story: DJ Maleko, who was emceeing the finish line area, called out my name and said that I should’ve taken this picture after I finished, not before!

So thar ya have it! I hope this helped you future Tinman-ers at least a little. If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comment area below.

A special Mahalo to my blog commenter M, and all of the staffers at The Bike Shop and McCully Bike for the pre-race help/tips! Doumo Arigatou (Mr. Roboto) to Kari Ohara, Miko Ohara, Kim Asano, moms, pops, wifey and wifey’s family for the support before, during and after the race! Big ups to the Tinman peeps for putting on this glorious event and the 100s of volunteers (and race participants as well) who showed their support during the race! Props to Russell for being my last leg jogging partner! And a final grazie to the Carrolls for the hospitality before the race and a wonderful lunch after.

I (guess I) can’t forget to send some love to Bari Carroll for motivating me to train for this thang against my will. ๐Ÿ˜› You be a-ight I guess… Nah, thanks B!

Bari and I - 2009 Tinman Finishers!
Bari and I – 2009 Tinman Finishers!
2009 Tinman Hawaii Results:
  Bari Ed
Swim 21:40.3
Rank 489
19:19.6
Rank 402
Transition 1 11:15.9
Rank 539
9:27.6
Rank 536
Bike 1:28:56.0
Rank 375
1:52:16.0
Rank 527
Transition 2 2:35.3
Rank 463
1:52.8
Rank 346
Run 1:01:32.3
Rank 328
1:25:52.3
Rank 523
Total 3:05:59.8
Rank 415
3:48:48.3
Rank 536
Source: timelinehawaii.com

See ya guys in the water next year??? 8)

P.S. Wanna see our progress from newbs to average Joes? Check out Bari’s (slightly biased) editing magic in our Tinman journal/video documentary! Don’t watch if you’re squeamish about pale, topless men. Consider yourself warned! ๐Ÿ˜›