Posts Tagged ‘Japanese Style Noodles’

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
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Marukame Udon – Homemade Japanese Style Noodles on the Cheap!

May 1, 2011

One thing good about having a dad from the muthaland is that he gets the scoops on ono kine Japanese grindz. Whether it be old time favorites that only the “insider” Nihonjins know about, or new joints about to open, papa Sugi is often in the know. Such is the case with Marukame Udon.

Early last month (April 1st to be exact), this pseudo-fast food Japanese noodle chain (known there as “Marugame Udon”) opened their first Hawaii location in Waikiki after opening 467 (and counting) locations across Japan. Thanks to an ad in a Japanese paper that pops subscribes to, we were able to get the jump and check it out just two days later.

Outside Marukame Udon in Waikiki
Outside Marukame Udon in Waikiki

From the looks of the shot above, it seems like you can just waltz right in whenevah you like, but don’t get it twisted, Marukame is usually mad busy, with crazy lines going out the door! Thankfully, it was not the case on this occasion (on a Sunday, a little before 5pm). Moms and wifey actually had some time to stop and smell the roses, er udon.

Wifey and moms deciding what to order
Wifey and moms deciding what to order

Here's what they were looking at (shokuhin/plastic food display)
Here’s what they were looking at (shokuhin/plastic food display)

Since it was indeed Waiks (located on Kuhio where the old Jack in the Box used to be), pops dropped us off earlier in the hopes of us snagging a place in line as he looked for parking. Since there was no line to speak of, I used this time to snap up photos of the joint before the mad rush came.


“How to Order” menu from Marukame Udon

Marukame Udon Menu
Marukame Udon Menu

Basically, it’s cafeteria style service here. You pretty much just stand in line…

Standing in line at Marukame Udon
Standing in line at Marukame Udon

… grab a tray, and tell the folks behind the counter what you want.

Marukame Udon employees ready to take my order
Marukame Udon employees ready to take my order

You can choose from a selection of 7 types of udon dishes: the Kamaage Udon (their #1 seller), Curry Udon, Niku Udon, Ontama Udon, Bukkake Udon, Kake Udon, and Zaru Udon.

You then scoot down the line, picking up your desired treats along the way.


Miscellaneous tempura/”age” treats along the way


Miscellaneous tempura/”age” treats along the way

Inari zushi and a variety of musubis at Marukame Udon
Inari zushi and a variety of musubis at Marukame Udon

When you make your way to the end, the cashier awaits and tallies up your total, which, for what you get, is VERY inexpensive (some udons start at just $3.75!)! And did I mention that the udon is made fresh, with “Nippn” brand Mentakumi flour, right before your very eyes!?

Udon noodles made fresh at Marukame Udon
Udon noodles made fresh at Marukame Udon

Once you pay, you can get additional condiments off to the side if you wish, and then find a seat in the relatively spacious dining area.

Marukame Udon dining area
Marukame Udon dining area

With pops still trying to find parking, I pass the time with some Internet surfing via with my Oceanic Mobile 4G hotspot.

Oceanic Mobile Works Here: Marukame Udon (Waikiki)
Oceanic Mobile Works Here: Marukame Udon (Waikiki)

Alas, pops arrives. There’s still no line so he’s able to order his Kamaage Udon and join us fairly quickly.


Kamaage Udon – “Piping hot udon noodles with dipping sauce” ($3.75 regular / $4.75 large)

Moms and wifey both got the Kake Udon. Here’s a shot of wifey’s order with a side musubi and ebi tempura.


Kake Udon – “Udon noodles in a hot broth” ($3.75 regular / $4.75 large)

And then we have my order: The large Curry Udon.


Curry Udon – “Udon noodles in curry sauce” ($5.25 regular / $6.25 large)

Although the parking sitch and potential long lines may be a bit of a deterrent, this is definitely one place you should try to check out. Fresh noodles, ono soup bases, and super duper affordable to boot! This one is Papa Sugi (and World Wide Ed) approved. 😉

Marukame Udon (Japanese site)
2310 Kuhio Avenue
Honolulu, HI. 96815 (map)
(808) 931-6000
Open Daily: 11am-10pm