Posts Tagged ‘tonkotsu broth’

Agu Ramen Bistro – Already One of Hawaii’s Best Ramen Spots

December 1, 2013

My journey to Agu actually started online.

As mentioned in my review of Hokkaido Ramen Santouka last month, I haven't seen much of the outside world following the birth of our second child. So looking at the most tastiest looking photos on Facebook and Instagram of a new ramen place called Agu, was about as close to "eating out" as I was going to get.

Finally, the day came… When all the stars seemed to align! We were in town first of all. Baby #1 just crashed out and Baby #2 had a nice, long, scrumptious feeding. I had mentioned to the wife before that I wanted to check this new place out, but she was always worried about how we're going to handle it with two youngins.

Enter the in-laws.

They are ramen lovers just as much as we are, so we all decided that we would attempt an outing together because with 4 against 2, the odds were in our favor. 😉

We headed to 925 Isenberg – the old Da Kitchen location and the back of the Saint Louis Alumni Association Clubhouse – early and walked right in (they had recently opened their hours to include lunch so we weren't sure how the crowd would be). It was cold and slightly wet outside… the perfect weather for ramen.

Outside Agu Ramen Bistro
Outside Agu Ramen Bistro

Inside, things were very clean and new-looking. Cute even. Perhaps a nod to the "Bistro" in their name.

Inside Agu Ramen Bistro
Inside Agu Ramen Bistro

First up was the Agu Gyoza stuffed with ground pork, cabbage and nira (garlic chives) and served fresh daily!

Agu Gyoza - 6 pc, ground pork, cabbage and nira (garlic chives) - $5.25
Agu Gyoza – 6 pc, ground pork, cabbage and nira (garlic chives) – $5.25

Delicious, but nothing I haven't tasted before. And then… dun dun DUNNNNN! The ramen came… BRAAAAAH!

Here's a look at the wife's Shoyu Tonkotsu Ramen, topped with house made char siu, aji tamago, menma (fermented bamboo shoots), negi (green onions), chopped onions, kikurage (cloud ear mushroom) & sesame seeds.

Shoyu Tonkotsu Ramen - bonito infused shoyu tare served with black sesame paste. - $10.75
Shoyu Tonkotsu Ramen – bonito infused shoyu tare served with black sesame paste. – $10.75

The chashu is marinated in sake-soy, using only premium grade pork from Okinawa called Agu, the namesake of the restaurant, while the Tonkotsu broth is made by cooking hundreds of pork bones at a rolling boil for 18 hours with, as they say "Aloha and patience." They use traditional Hakata style thin noodles, which you can request both the "well done-ness" of (I like um al dente) as well as the quantity ($3.50 to double the amount).

Here's my Kotteri Tonkotsu Ramen with house made char siu, aji tamago, menma, negi, kikurage & sesame seeds, sans the chopped onions. My bowl also included garlic chips and seabura (pork fat). Cha-Ching!

Kotteri Tonkotsu Ramen - extra rich broth made with garlic & silky back fat - $11.75
Kotteri Tonkotsu Ramen – extra rich broth made with garlic & silky back fat – $11.75

You can also opt to kick your ramen up a notch by requesting a spice level from 1-5. If you’re daring enough (or just plain nuts), there is a level that even goes beyond that, appropriately called "Epic". The waiter we spoke with said he sees about 1 in 50 customers crazy enough to go for the Epic Spicy level, most of whom cannot finish it (no can handle Randall). Here’s a look at what levels 1 and 3 look like.

Spicy Kotteri Tonkotsu Ramen (with spice level 1) - $12.75
Spicy Kotteri Tonkotsu Ramen (with spice level 1) – $12.75

 

Spicy Kotteri Tonkotsu Ramen (with spice level 3) - $12.75
Spicy Kotteri Tonkotsu Ramen (with spice level 3) – $12.75

Up until now, my two favorite ramen restaurants in Hawaii were Yotteko-Ya in McCully and Tenkaippin on Kapahulu, hands down. After just this one sitting, Agu has already officially been added to my list of "Top Ramen Fo' Grind"… Yeah, it's that good!

I'm now looking forward to the day when the stars once again align…

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

AGU Ramen
925 Isenberg St. (Back of the Saint Louis Alumni Association Clubhouse)
Honolulu, HI 96826 (Street View)
(808) 492-1637
Hours: Sun-Thu: 11am-9pm
Fri & Sat: 11am-10pm
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AGURAMEN

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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