Posts Tagged ‘chashu pork’

Vegas Kine Grindz – Part II

March 1, 2012
Part I |  Part II 

The last time I wrote an article devoted to the ono grindz of our 9th island of “Lost Wages”, Crash won Best Picture at the Academy Awards and George W Bush was our President. It was actually my very first foray into food articles here on AroundHawaii (way back in April of ’06) and was aptly titled “Vegas Kine Grindz“. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane shmall kine and continue the series with part II, an almost 6 years later!

Since we literally just completed a 5-part series on Hawaii’s best ramen, and my brain can’t function any other way yet 😛 , let’s start off this trip with one of Las Vegas’ best ramens…

 

Monta Japanese Noodle House

Located conveniently on Spring Mountain Road, this popular noodle house regularly receives rave reviews from tourists and locals alike.

Outside Monta Japanese Noodle House. Expect to wait in a line.
Outside Monta Japanese Noodle House. Expect to wait in a line.

Before we left, my friend Dave’s friend recommended Monta, as did my friend and co-worker Shane. On this occasion, we were taken by Jeff, an old high school classmate turned Las Vegas resident. He says he goes there at least once a week and is practically an expert when ordering his bowl.

Shoyu Ramen ($6.95) with extra Chashu Pork ($2.50) and two Nitamago (soft boiled egg) ($1.50 each) [Photo Credit: Jeff Hee]
Shoyu Ramen ($6.95) with extra Chashu Pork ($2.50) and two Nitamago (soft boiled egg) ($1.50 each) [Photo Credit: Jeff Hee]

If you’ve been following my ramen series for the last 5 months, you’ll know that I’m a tonkotsu fiend, so there really was no other option for me.

Tonkotsu Ramen ($6.95) with Nitamago ($1.50), Nori ($0.75) and Shredded Green Onion ($0.75)
Tonkotsu Ramen ($6.95) with Nitamago ($1.50), Nori ($0.75) and Shredded Green Onion ($0.75)

If you’re a big eater, portions are relatively small here. I would recommend saving some soup at the end and going for the Kaedama (extra order of noodles) for an additional $1.50.

Your other options here for ramen are Tonkotsu-Shoyu ($6.95) and Miso ($7.25), and for Toppings, Takana Mustard Leaf ($1.50), Kimchi ($1), Corn ($0.50) and Butter ($0.50).

Here’s their complete menu: http://www.montaramen.com/menu.php

I would rate this as one of the top 3 ramens I’ve ever had in the U.S. Yes, it’s THAT good. The tonkotsu broth is legit, and the Chashu pork melts in and “brokes” your mout’ at the same time! 😉 This is a MUST visit on every Vegas trip.

Monta Japanese Noodle House
5030 Spring Mountain Road Suite 6
Las Vegas, Nevada 89146 (Street View)
(702) 367-4600
Daily: 11:30am-11pm

 

Secret Pizza (No Name Pizza Kitchen)

When a place has no signage to speak of and goes by the name of “Secret Pizza”, you know you’re onto something good. In fact, the only way people know about this place is by word of mouth. Heck, they even answer the phone with a plain & simple “Pizzeria”! I was super excited to eat there, primarily because of the mysteriousness of it all.

The entrance doesn’t look like much of anything and is pretty much just a dark hallway. You would probably walk right past it if you weren’t paying attention.

Dark, inconspicuous entrance to Secret Pizza with no signage to speak of
Dark, inconspicuous entrance to Secret Pizza with no signage to speak of

Also known as the “No Name Pizza Kitchen” (NNPK), you’ll be sure to find the makings of a traditional pizza kitchen at the end of the hall, in addition to a long line of “in-the-know” patrons.

The line inside Secret Pizza
The line inside Secret Pizza

I’m not really a big pizza eater, but these pie slices literally had me panting for more. The first night I had their sausage and jalapeno slice, and the next night (yes, we went twice! 😉 ), I picked up a mushroom pepperoni slice.

My mushroom, pepperoni slice ($4.50)
My mushroom, pepperoni slice ($4.50)

You can customize any slice of pizza for $0.50 additional per topping. Also popular is their “White” pizzas which have ricotta cheese and no red sauce. They go for $5 a slice.

Rumor has it that all of the ingredients for the pizza are actually homemade right here in the kitchen and restaurants from other hotels & casinos actually buy their ingredients from them. Another rumor is that they only use Evian water when mixing their dough. Not too sure how true these rumors are, but the pizza was really dang good!

Secret Pizza, aka No Name Pizza Kitchen, aka NNPK
At the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
3708 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109 (Street View)
(702) 698-7000
Fri-Mon: 11am-5am
Tue-Thu: 11am-4am

 

Sushi Mon

All-you-can-eats in Las Vegas is like saying beaches in Hawaii. You’ll find them everywhere, some better than others. Sushi Mon is one of those popular all-you-can-eats off the strip that is still reasonable and maintains good quality.

Outside Sushi Mon
Outside Sushi Mon

There were 7 of us there that night for the $26.95 All You Can Eat Dinner special, so I’m sure they were a bit afraid of the damage we were about to cause. They churned out order after order like champs though (and fast!) so mad props to them. Here’s some of what we ordered that night as well as from a previous visit there.

2 orders of Ikura (salmon roe) and 2 orders of Masago (smelt egg)
2 orders of Ikura (salmon roe) and 2 orders of Masago (smelt egg)

2 orders of Hokkigai (surf clam) and 2 orders of Hamachi (yellowtail tuna)
2 orders of Hokkigai (surf clam) and 2 orders of Hamachi (yellowtail tuna)

Their popular Cajun Albacore sushi
Their popular Cajun Albacore sushi

Snow Crab Meat Sushi (you're only allowed one order per person)
Snow Crab Meat Sushi (you’re only allowed one order per person)

Ed’s Tip: Be aware that you only have a 60 minute time limit here, but as mentioned above, the chefs here churned out our orders pretty quickly so it was never an issue for us.

Sushi Mon
8320 W Sahara Ave, Suite 180
Las Vegas, NV 89117 (Street View)
(702) 304-0044
Daily: 11:30am-2am
@SushiMonVegas

 

Hikari Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar

In the mood for sushi again, 5 of us headed to a placed called Hikari, based on a tip we got.

Outside Hikari Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar
Outside Hikari Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar

You can actually get all you can eat steak here too, but you have to choose one or the other. We opted for the $26.95 sushi route.

All you can eat sushi menu from Hikari
All you can eat sushi menu from Hikari

Although they were out of a few items (as was Sushi Mon), the choices here seem to be a little deeper. Here are some highlights of the choices we went with.

Sashimi combo
Sashimi combo

Raw fish without the rice is always a good thing during all-you-can-eat dining! 8)

Soft Shell Crab
Soft Shell Crab

Amaebi sushi
Amaebi sushi

Screem Inor Gazim
Screem Inor Gazim

Hikari
4175 S Buffalo Drive
Las Vegas, NV 89147 (Street View)
(702) 889-6660
Daily: 5pm-2am

 

And finally, we’ll close things out with a sweet sandwich find for this sandwich obsessed lover.

Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop

Capriotti’s is a franchise sandwich shop with 75 locations across the U.S. (32 in Nevada alone). My friend’s wife swears by their Capastrami subs (Hot pastrami, Swiss cheese, Russian dressing, and cole slaw), so we had to go and check it out.

Capriotti's sandwich making station
Capriotti’s sandwich making station

We visited the Paradise Road location right near our hotel at the Hard Rock. In addition to the Capastrami, the New Jersey sounding guy taking our order (whom I assumed to be the owner), suggested the Bobbie (The nationally acclaimed best-seller! Hand-pulled, slow roasted, homemade Turkey, fresh cranberry sauce, homemade stuffing and mayo).

Special sign for the Bobbie
Special sign for the Bobbie

Here’s a cross sectional look at the sandwich.

The Bobbie from Capriotti's
The Bobbie from Capriotti’s

Buggah was grindz! I gotta go back and try some of their other subs!

Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop
4480 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, NV 89169 (Street View)
(702) 736-6166
Mon-Fri: 10am-7pm
Sat-Sun: 11am-5pm
@capriottis

 

The primary reason for this trip was to celebrate the engagement of my brother-in-law Lee, bachelor party style. Congratulations bro!!!

Da boyz celebrating Lee's final days as a single bachelor
Da boyz celebrating Lee’s final days as a single bachelor

Now… If we can ever find a bride for my friend Todd (center), we can work on Vegas Kine Grindz – Part III. I wouldn’t hold your breath though. That may take more than 6 years… 😉

Part I |  Part II 
Advertisements

Hawaii Ramen Quest – Part I

October 1, 2011
 Part I  | 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 / ラーメン 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. 😛

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!

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