Posts Tagged ‘udon’

Rinka Japanese Restaurant – Go for the Gold!

May 1, 2013

One evening, after helping us watch our daughter for the entire day, I told the parentals that we should go grab dinner, my treat. I suggested Rinka, this new Japanese restaurant I’ve been hearing about through the foodie grapevine. Much like the discovery of Marukame Udon a couple years ago, Pops had already heard about Rinka and has been wanting to eat there as well. Deal!

Rinka Japanese Restaurant sign
Rinka Japanese Restaurant sign

Located on Makaloa (between Walgreen’s and Hawaii USA FCU, on the backside of Heald College and Roger Dunn Golf), Rinka’s sliding door entrance, zen sand/rock garden (cleverly shaped as the Hawaiian Islands) in the foyer, and “Irrashaimase” greeting gave the exact authenticity I was looking for.

Nicely renovated with wood and cement accents, Rinka boasts a sushi bar, and a decent amount of western style seating…

Inside Rinka
Inside Rinka

… But if you want the full-on Nippon experience, see if you can reserve the “tatami” room like we did. Although the ground was not exactly made out of tatami, there is kotatsu style seating (low table with feet in the ground) and you have the luxury of privacy if the other table doesn’t get filled during your meal.

Inside the tatami room
Inside the “tatami” room

The menu is a quite diverse with 14 appetizers, 5 shabu shabus, 3 hot pots, 3 salads, 6 deep fried, 4 boiled, & 5 grilled choices, 11 sashimi offerings, and 8 donburi/udon options. With the exception of a couple items for the bebe (sushi egg & chicken karaage), we played it safe and ordered from the “kou-su” (set course) menu, which included many of their popular items.

Sushi Egg from the Appetizer section ($3.75)
Sushi Egg from the Appetizer section ($3.75)

Chicken Karaage from the Deep Fried section ($7.75)
Chicken Karaage from the Deep Fried section ($7.75)

First up in the kou-su was the Mozuku & Ika Marine (Cladosiphon okamuranus seaweed & squid vinegar concoction).

Ika Marine & Mozuku
Ika Marine & Mozuku

The second item was the Snapper in a Spinach Base Soup, complete with gold flakes on top (hence the “Gold” in the title of this article)! BRAH! This one was probably one of my favorites in the kou-su! Super ono!

Snapper in a Spinach Base Soup
Snapper in a Spinach Base Soup

Next was the Sashimi Tsukuri, a nicely presented offering of ahi and snapper.

Sashimi Tsukuri
Sashimi Tsukuri

The Renkon Manjyu (lotus root manjyu) was one of my other favorites and up next.

Renkon Manjyu
Renkon Manjyu

I’m not a fan of onions and tomatoes, so I had to do some maneuvering when eating the next dish: Crab Tomato Salad.

Crab Tomato Salad
Crab Tomato Salad

Next was the Abalone Croquette, one of the most popular items on their menu. To me, it was just ok.

Abalone Croquette
Abalone Croquette

And then came the “ingrediments” for the Buta (pork) Shabu Shabu.

Buta (pork) strips for the Buta Shabu Shabu
Buta (pork) strips for the Buta Shabu Shabu

Veggies for the Buta Shabu Shabu
Veggies for the Buta Shabu Shabu

Buta Shabu Shabu simmering
Buta Shabu Shabu simmering

Pops showing his shabu shabu skills
Pops showing his shabu shabu skills

As with other shabu shabu or hot pot restaurants, you get the option of making the most of your remaining soup base by ordering noodle or rice options to finish things off. We went with one of each: rice, ramen noodles, and udon!

Rice simmering
Rice simmering

Ramen noodles simmering
Ramen noodles simmering

Udon dekiagari (pau!)
Udon dekiagari (pau!)

The “kou-su” finishes with a few dessert options. We went with the Mochi Ice Cream and Sakura Cheesecake options.

Mochi Ice Cream
Mochi Ice Cream

Sakura Cheesecake (more golllld!)
Sakura Cheesecake (more golllld!)

The “kou-su” is normally $60, but we got it for their special, grand opening $45 rate. We ordered 3 sets, which was more than enough for 4 of us adults.

Kudos to Executive Chef Kazufumi Sonoda for delivering a medley of memorable dishes. Rinka is a definitely try, with or without gold sprinkles. 😉

Rinka Japanese Restaurant
1500 Kapiolani Blvd
Honolulu, HI 96814 (Street View)
(808) 941-5159
Hours: Tue-Sun 5:30pm-12am
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Yajima-Ya Lunch Wagon Revisited

August 1, 2012
Yatai in Hawaii (Part I) |  Yajima-Ya Revisited (Part II) 

The last time I covered the Yajima-Ya Lunch Wagon (located off of Sheridan Street near Keeaumoku), the majority of their menu items consisted of the noodle (soba or udon) and don (rice bowls) variety. Since then, they’ve expanded their menu to include well received plate lunch style items like teriyaki or mushroom chicken, steak, and a Japanese style beef stew called Hayashi Rice. I figgah now’s a good time as any to pay chef Tomoki Ito a (re)visit to see what’s new… with a little food p0rn/eye candy of course!

One of my favorite (and incidentally one of their most popular) dishes here is the mushroom chicken. Made with egg and tempura flour, the breaded crispiness of the chicken is offset nicely with the rich “graviness” of the rue. With a side of spinach and Japanese style mac salad, this one is fo’ real kine brok’ da mout’!

Mushroom Chicken Plate ($8.50)
Mushroom Chicken Plate ($8.50)

Prepared in a similar way sans the gravy, is their Teriyaki Chicken plate. Love the touch with the Furikake over the rice!

Teriyaki Chicken Plate ($8) (Photo Credit: Tomoki Ito)
Teriyaki Chicken Plate ($8) (Photo Credit: Tomoki Ito)

Another favorite of mine is the Hayashi Rice Plate (the Japanese style beef stew). Here’s a shot of that gem.

Hayashi Rice plate ($8)
Hayashi Rice plate ($8)

Wifey likes their Buta Shougayaki (Pork Ginger) plate, which is strange because she’s not a fan of ginger. In fact, neither am I, but we both can sure whack this buggah like that. Here’s a shot of Yajima-Ya’s combination plate with Pork Ginger and Wafu style New York Steak w/ponzu.

Pork Ginger and Wafu w/ponzu Steak combination plate ($9)
Pork Ginger and Wafu w/ponzu Steak combination plate ($9)

It’s hard to tell, but there’s a stack of steak underneath all that onion and ginger.

One of the great things about a combination plate at a place like Yajima-Ya, is that your options are practically endless. Some days you might be in the mood for Japanese style fair, while on other days, you might want full on local kine grindz. And then, there are those days when you just can’t make up your mind. This is when you combine the flava of the East with that of the options from way out west.

Here are a couple of combination plates, blending Hawaii and Japan.

Tempura and Teri Chicken combination plate ($8.50)
Tempura and Teri Chicken combination plate ($8.50)

Samurai Donburi & Mushroom Chicken combo ($8.50)
Samurai Donburi & Mushroom Chicken combo ($8.50)

And of course, they still have their tried and true donburi, udon and soba items like their Samurai Donburi…

Samurai Donburi ($7.50)
Samurai Donburi ($7.50)

… the Bukkake Sanuki Udon…

Bukkake Sanuki Udon ($8)
Bukkake Sanuki Udon ($8)

… and their Sansai (Vegetable Tempura) Soba.

Sansai Soba ($6.50)
Sansai Soba ($6.50)

Other interesting menu items include the Kara Soba (Spicy Cold Soba) for $8.25, the $4 Breakfast Special (Rice with 1 scrambled egg, 2 slices of bacon & 3 slices of Portuguese Sausage), and a couple of Salad options (with a choice of Udon or Soba) for $8 each. A far cry from the humble beginnings when their main clientele was employees from the neighboring Yajima-Ya (Cosmo) service station.

A few things to note since my last article… Although they’ve expanded their menu options to include the local style favorites mentioned above, they’ve also streamlined operations, choosing to shorten their hours of operation, and do away with extraneous things that take time to prepare like their Belgian Waffles, specialty drinks, and their Daily Specials menu altogether.

Yajima-Ya Hours of operation
Yajima-Ya Hours of operation

Kudos to chef Ito-san and the rest of the Yajima-Ya family for constantly evolving and finding ways to please our palate. I just hope my food p0rn/eye candy did the food justice.

Check them out the next time you’re in the area (or even if you’re not!). Trust… You won’t be disappointed.

Yajima-Ya
@yajimayahawaii
Sheridan Street (Behind Hinone Mizunone, between South King & Liona)
Honolulu, HI. 96814 (Street View)
808-497-7991
Mon-Fri: 7am-5pm
Sat: 7:30am-4:30pm

Yatai in Hawaii (Part I) |  Yajima-Ya Revisited (Part II) 

 

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Spicy Ahi & BBQ – Ono Japanese Eats in Pearl City

May 1, 2012

In part III of my Hawaii Ramen Quest, I paid IchiBen (in the Times Square Shopping Center) a visit. While walking over from my car, I noticed a fairly large crowd gathered around the entrance of another eatery nearby. That place was called Spicy Ahi & BBQ and I took a mental note to return again to give it a try. Here's what I found on that return visit.

Based on the name alone, I was pretty excited. I love me some good BBQ, and, if you've been following my Poke Paradise series at all, you'll know that I am a fanatic when it comes to raw seafood concoctions.

In addition to BBQ, Noodle and Nabemono items, Spicy Ahi & BBQ has a special "Spicy Ahi Bowl or Spicy Ahi over Fresh Vegetable" section on their menu with 14 different combinations incorporating Spicy Ahi.

Spicy Ahi & BBQ Menu
Spicy Ahi & BBQ Menu

I went with a two choice combination meal with, what else? Spicy Ahi and BBQ (Kalbi). Oh yeah!

Spicy Ahi & Kalbi (BBQ Beef Short Rib) Combination Dinner - $14.95
Spicy Ahi & Kalbi (BBQ Beef Short Rib) Combination Dinner – $14.95

Each combination dinner comes with a salad, miso soup, rice & pickles (tsukemono).

Salad and miso soup from Combination Dinner
Salad and miso soup from Combination Dinner

The salad comes "dry", giving you the opportunity to use the dressing of your choice from the selection on each table.

Salad dressings
Salad dressings

Wifey also went with a little combo action, choosing Misoyaki Salmon…

Misoyaki Salmon
Misoyaki Salmon

… and Udon as her two options.

Kake Udon
Kake Udon

Although prices are on the higher side for a casual, sit down dining type of experience, both food quality and quantity are definitely present. Outside of Waikele Center’s Restaurant Kunio, I would go as far to say that Spicy Ahi & BBQ is probably one of the area's best tasting Japanese restaurants. Definitely worth the wait.

Spicy Ahi & BBQ
98-1254 Kaahumanu Street, Suite A-13
Pearl City, HI 96782
(808) 488-4851
Tue-Thu: 11am-2pm (lunch), 5pm-9pm (dinner)
Fri-Sat: 11am-2pm (lunch), 5pm-9:30pm (dinner)

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Hawaii Ramen Quest – Part V

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

Although varying in sizes and flavors, many of the ramen shops we covered in this series have one thing in common: their noodles are supplied by the same, local, noodle factory based right here in Hawaii. So what better way to close this series out than with where ramen in Hawaii all begins… Sun Noodle.

Outside Sun Noodle's Honolulu Factory
Outside Sun Noodle’s Honolulu Factory

At the helm of it all is Sun Noodle Founder and President Mr. Hidehito Uki who started the business more than 30 years ago (founded way back on July 10, 1981). Uki-san in fact comes from a noodle making bloodline. His family had a fresh noodle making “ya” (store) in the Tochigi Prefecture (then) named the Ikeda Noodle Company. Here, he perfected the art of “men” before moving to Hawaii.

Sun Noodle President Mr. Hidehito Uki
Sun Noodle President Mr. Hidehito Uki

While studying ESL (English as a Second Language) here at Hawaii Pacific University (Hawaii Pacific College at the time), he would often eat at local ramen shops looking for a place that reminded him of home. Frustrated, he set out to do something about it and that’s how Sun Noodle was born.

“There’s nothing more powerful than the sun. When you think of Hawaii, you think of the sun. That’s why I named the business Sun Noodle.”

His 10,000 square foot Honolulu factory on Colburn Street can produce up to 30,000 servings of raw noodles per 8 hour day. They churn out over 100 products like yakisoba, udon, chow fun, pancit, gyoza and won ton wrappers, and, for ramen alone, they make over 30 different styles!

Overlooking the Sun Noodle factory from above
Overlooking the Sun Noodle factory from above

Amazingly, even with that many choices, Mr. Uki’s philosophy is that every noodle order must be custom made for his clients based, on the flavor of their soup.

“Every soup our customer makes is their personality. The noodles and the soup have to have a nice combination. Even if you make good noodles and good soup, if it doesn’t match, it’s no good. That’s why we go out there and taste the soup from each client and try to figure out what noodle would go best with that particular soup. We keep trying until we get it right. Sometimes I spend months to find the perfect noodle to match their soup.”

Most of his factory’s noodles start with the same base: flour, water, salt and potassium carbonate. It is the variances in flour type and water that makes all the difference.

“We are lucky to have good water here in Hawaii. It makes good noodles.”

The ingredients are thrown in (by hand) to a large vat…

Sun Noodle employee throwing in the ingredients for this batch of noodles
Sun Noodle employee throwing in the ingredients for this batch of noodles

… where it is mixed together…

Ingredients are mixed together
Ingredients are mixed together

… and flattened into a thin sheet by automated machinery. Large rolls of these flattened concoctions are then fed into another machine…

Large flour rolls feeding into the machine that cuts them into noodles
Large flour rolls feeding into the machine that cuts them into noodles

… which slices and dices them into their famous noodle shape.

Where noodles are cut into their famous shape(s)
Where noodles are cut into their famous shape(s)

Some are straight, some are wavy, and some even have a different color to them (based on the type of flour). Here’s a batch of noodles being prepared for Zippy’s Restaurants’ famous Zip Min.

Noodles for Zippy's Restaurants' Zip Min
Noodles for Zippy’s Restaurants’ Zip Min

Depending on what is being made, the noodles are then either packaged right there or sent off to the steaming/cooking room where they (usually yakisoba or udon) take a bath before being packaged.

Trays of yakisoba noodles are cooked in hot water before being packaged
Trays of yakisoba noodles are cooked in hot water before being packaged

For a while, he tried to service his mainland customers out of this factory alone, but it proved to be a difficult task with them being spread throughout California, Washington, Nevada, Vancouver BC (Canada), and parts of the East Coast. Ultimately, in order to provide the freshest noodles possible to his mainland customers, he decided to open up another factory in the greater Los Angeles area (on W Mahalo Place ironically) in 2004. Not satisfied, he will soon open up another factory in the New Jersey area so that his East Coast customers and their clientele get the freshest Sun Noodles they can get.

“Providing fresh noodle is the best! Instead of making the noodles in L.A., freezing it, and shipping it to the East Coast, we decided to make a factory in the East Coast so we can provide the freshest noodles possible.”

During the tour, I asked Mr. Uki what he thought of Saimin (compared to ramen), and his answer, which I really enjoyed, gave me that ultimate “a-ha” moment.

“Each area in Japan has their own, unique style of ramen. Kyushu has Hakata style (tonkotsu), Hokkaido has Sapporo style (miso)… Saimin is Hawaii’s style of ramen.”

I never thought of it that way, but it’s very true! I now have a new found appreciation for saimin. Being from Hawaii, I’m required to be proud of it. 😉

I also asked him what his thoughts were on slurping as a custom. I once asked my parents (who are also from Japan) why people slurp so loudly when eating their ramen. They told me that it is a sign of respect and appreciation for the ramen chef. It tells them that the noodles are delicious and is the ultimate compliment you can give to them. Mr. Uki had a different explanation:

“It looks tasty if you slurp your noodles. If you don’t smell the noodles, you can’t taste it. Of course, when you slurp, you bring in the air, which is important to help you smell and taste the ramen. Nowadays, even the non-Japanese community is starting to slurp their noodles.”

In my brief conversation with Mr. Uki, I could tell that his passion for noodles ran deep.

“We try to make the best noodle possible. We will try to make best noodle market in Hawaii for everybody to enjoy ramen.”

He truly loves what he does and best exemplifies what I love so much about ramen: a warm base with humble beginnings… Here’s to another 30 years!

 

Mahalo for following along during this obsessive, noodle & soup-filled expedition. Although the Hawaii Ramen Quest series has come to an end, the journey continues. See y’all at the next ramen stop!

Note: R.I.P. to Hawaii Journalism legend Mr. John Heckathorn who also covered Hidehito Uki and Sun Noodle in his noodle series: “In Search of the Ultimate Noodle“.

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

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! 😉

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 😉 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! 🙂

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 😛 , 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. 😉

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. 😛

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. 😛

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! 😉

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

Eating Your Way Through Japan – Part II

January 19, 2009
Part I |  Part II 

And… we’re… back. I know, I know, it’s been a while since part one, but no get all habuts. Takes long time fo put this together you know. 🙂

We last left off sipping tea at Ito-Ya, waiting for the pops-recommended, kushikatsu joint to open up (opens at 5PM). When the clock hit 5, it was time to head over to Isomura’s in Ginza.

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Isomura’s in Ginza

The general concept of kushikatsu is that you get a variety of food items, battered up, deep fried, and served to you on a stick (kushi). The secret, according to pops, is to go right when they open, as they have a happy hour special: 12 courses (items), beer, soup, rice, tea and dessert all for X Yen. Hehe, sorry, I don’t remember how much it was, but I believe it was around $20 U.S.

The jubilee of choices came in the following sequence:

  1. Beef
  2. Shi-wrapped Shrimp
  3. Shiitake Mushroom
  4. Scallop
  5. Snow Peas
  6. Corn
  7. Asparagus
  8. Shrimp/Prawn
  9. Pork
  10. Bacon-wrapped Potato
  11. Tofu
  12. Fish Eggs

Here’s a lil’ preview:

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Snow peas and corn kushikatsu

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Biggest, deep fried asparagus you’ve ever seen!

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Prawn kushikatsu

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Tofu and fish eggs kushikatsu

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
You put your stick in the fishy’s mouth after your done. We did some work son!

The next morning, we tried the other breakfast buffet option in our hotel, Taronga.

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Inside Taronga Grill and Wine

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
My plate full o’ goodies

The atmosphere and food choices seemed a little higher scaled, but the options weren’t as plentiful. If I were to choose one, I’d stick with Ocean Dining.

With our fill of the Tokyo/Odaiba areas, it was off to adventure the rest of this beautiful country. We headed to Nagano, whose specialty is soba.

Since we were in the mood for rahmen yet again, we combined our hunger with Nagano’s finest and found a little shop that served soba, rahmen style.

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
I wish I could read kanji better so I could tell you the name of this place. 😛

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Char siu rahmen soba

Some city browsing/touring followed and, on the way back to our hotel, we came across this neat little restaurant called Mountain Q Hawaiian Diner. Yep, that’s right, “Hawaiian” food in the middle of Japan.

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Mountain Q Hawaiian Diner

Inside Mountain Q was real kitchie (sp?), with your typical hula girl and grass skirt-type decorations, but the most interesting thing was eating “SPAM nigiri” (instead of SPAM musubi) while listening to KSSK on the radio.

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
SPAM Onigiri

The next morning, we woke up early to go check out what Nagano is also famous for: Oyaki, a baked, almost mochi type shell, stuffed with veggies. On the way to Zenkoji temple, you will find this town’s popular oyaki shop on the right hand side.

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Popular Oyaki Shop in Nagano

Inside, there is an omiyage area, where you can buy your oyaki to go. In the back however, is where the magic happens… the area where they actually make the oyaki over an open fire. This is where we had to be.

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Where the oyaki are made

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Flames for two cooking spots, one to cook the flat sides, and one to cook the edges

The family seemed to take a liking to us, as they fed us a complete meal (soup and tea) with our oyaki, and they also offered to teach us how to make them ourselves (a class usually reserved for special days).

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Our oyaki meal

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Us gettin’ our oyaki on

Then it was off to another town in Yudanaka for more adventures. We stayed at Ryokan Biyunoyado (Yudanaka View Hotel), an excellent Western style Ryokan (onsen hotel) in the middle of a town known for onsens (hot springs).

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Yudanaka View Hotel

That evening, we were treated to the hotel’s inclusive dinner, which included soup, sashimi, soba, saba, buttered beef, mushroom (straight from the bark!), fresh fruits (Nagano is also known for their apples), sake, and the local beer Shiga Kogen Pale Ale.

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Our Spread

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Mushrooms, as fresh as you can get. Nuts yeah?

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Shiga Kogen Pale Ale

The next morning, we had breakfast at the hotel as well, which included miso soup, salad, ham, eggs, salmon, udon, and fresh apple juice.

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Our morning spread

To leave enough for part 3, I think we’ll end it here… But before we go, here’s a parting shot from Yudanaka’s famous monkey park. Yep, sending you off with a little monkey bidness. 🙂

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Monkeys from Yudanaka Monkey Park

Have a fun day Monday y’all!

Part I |  Part II 

Eating Your Way Through Japan – Part I

January 4, 2009
 Part I  | Part II

[A hearty welcome to all you new World Wide Ed readers from the print world… Much love for visiting! Let’s make um a habit from now k? 😛 ]

About a month ago, the brand spankin’ new wifey and I went back to the motherland for our honeymoon. ‘Twas ten days of ‘moonin bliss, complete with shopping, temples, trains, onsens, monkeys (yeah, monkeys!), snow, wedding reception #2, and, best of all… food.

I’m hoping to eventually break this out into a full-fledged review of Japan (little girl diary style 😛 ), but for purposes of this blog, let’s just concentrate on the eats yo! Cool? Cool! Let’s do this!

Our first night was spent touring the Odaiba area where we stayed. We walked over to the Aqua City and Decks Tokyo Beach (Tokyo Joyopolis) shopping districts for some product-browsing and sight-seeing.

Night time view of Rainbow Bridge in Odaiba
Night time view of Rainbow Bridge in Odaiba

In the mood for some good kine Japanese rahmen, we poked around the food courts at Decks to see if anything spoke to us. Nothing did. So we took it to the streets. Awesome choice, as we ran into Yotteko-Ya Ramen. Yeah, the same one that made its way to McCully Shopping Center on Oahu.

Located on the ground floor between Decks Tokyo Beach and the Yurikamome Line (local train), the flamboyant exterior quickly catches your eye.

Outside Odaiba's Yotteko-Ya Ramen
Outside Odaiba’s Yotteko-Ya Ramen

I swear, every time we visited the one in McCully, they were sold out of their popular Paitan soup base ramen (the thick, creamy one). We’ve been there on at least 5 different occasions at 5 different times (even like 10 in the morning!), and, every single time, they were sold out. We were beginning to think that it was some kind of a conspiracy, and that they only made enough soup base for three bowls or something. We were glad to get the authentic one straight from the source.

Char Siu Ramen from Yotteko-Ya Ramen
Char Siu Ramen from Yotteko-Ya Ramen

Yotteko-Ya Ramen

Much like some Las Vegas hotel packages, the great thing about some of the hotels in Japan is that the price of the room includes meals. The next morning, we enjoyed a delicious Japanese style buffet breakfast at Ocean Dining Restaurant.

Buffet table at Ocean Dining Restaurant, Hotel Nikko Tokyo Hotel, Odaiba
Buffet table at Ocean Dining Restaurant, Hotel Nikko Tokyo Hotel, Odaiba

Our view of Rainbow Bridge during our eats was amazing!

Our beautiful view with my not so beautiful mound o' food
Our beautiful view with my not so beautiful mound o’ food

Hotel Nikko Tokyo – Odaiba

Then, it was off to see the town baby. We took the Yurikamome line to Shimbashi Station and walked to the Ginza district. There, the wife shopped at various department stores, including the (apparently *rolling eyes*) popular H&M store from America. We also found some time to snack in between.

Treats at Nenrinya
Treats at Nenrinya

Yes, we’re posers. We didn’t actually buy anything from here (if you saw the crazy lines, you wouldn’t either! 😛 ), but we did capture some shots for you curious bees out there.

The line at Nenrinya
The line at Nenrinya

Nenrinya

One place we weren’t posers at was Starbucks (the Ginza Matsuya-dori store to be exact). We stopped to fill our tummies here real quick like.

Two Tall Tazo Chai Tea Lattes (¥940) and one Strawberry Roll (¥280). Typical Starbucks prices...
Two Tall Tazo Chai Tea Lattes (¥940) and one Strawberry Roll (¥280). Typical Starbucks prices…

On the wall, we noticed a sign that said “Starbucks Coffee Japan, Ltd. The 1st Store August 2nd 1996″… Pretty cool! We’ve been to the first store in America (Seattle) and now Japan. Where’s next? 🙂

Sign at Starbucks Ginza Matsuya-dori store: Starbucks Coffee Japan, Ltd. The 1st Store August 2nd 1996
Sign at Starbucks Ginza Matsuya-dori store: “Starbucks Coffee Japan, Ltd. The 1st Store August 2nd 1996”

Starbucks Ginza Matsuya-dori

Refueled, we caught the JR Yamanote Line to Harajuku to check out the famous Takeshita Doori. There we went to a food court and ate at the best looking option: Umaya.

Umaya
Umaya

They are famous for their Miso Fried Noodles, which I loaded up with all the toppings I could get my hands on (including Nori, Katsuobushi (dried tuna), Sansho (Sichuan pepper), and Black Pepper)!

Miso Yakisoba (Fried Noodles) from Umaya (with my bevy of sprinkles!)
Miso Yakisoba (Fried Noodles) from Umaya (with my bevy of sprinkles!)

The next day, we headed to Ueno to check out the popular Ameyayokocho shopping street.

Ameyayokocho, also known as Ameyoko, in Ueno
Ameyayokocho, also known as Ameyoko, in Ueno

This area is good for buying snack-type omiyage or produce if you were gonna whip up something yourself at home. We walked by a fresh fish/sashimi type street stand that seemed to be getting a lot of action Jackson. Perhaps, if it were lunchtime we would’ve checked it out, but, ah, next time!

The line at a popular sushi/sashimi stand in Ameyoko
The line at a popular sushi/sashimi stand in Ameyoko

Next stop: Sensoji Temple in Asakusa.

Sensoji Temple in Asakusa
Sensoji Temple in Asakusa

The path leading to the temple is full of vendors selling anything from gifts, to good luck charms, to food.

Mall leading to Sensoji Temple in Asakusa
Mall leading to Sensoji Temple in Asakusa

We ate our share of fresh snacks like kinako mochi on a stick, fresh senbei (cooked right in front of you) and red bean manju in the shape of birds.

For lack of a better name, let's call this one mochi-on-a-stick. :P
For lack of a better name, let’s call this one mochi-on-a-stick. 😛

Frying up fresh senbei and dipping it in their shoyu-sugar base. YUM!
Frying up fresh senbei and dipping it in their shoyu-sugar base. YUM!

Wifey got her hands on all the warm, an filled manju
Wifey got her hands on all the warm, an filled manju

Then it was back to Ginza for a kushikatsu restaurant recommended by pops. To kill time, we did more browsing/shopping and ended up at a neat, little Tea Lounge on the top floor of Ito-Ya (a popular paper/pen/office supply type store).

Ito-Ya Tea Lounge, Ginza, Japan
Ito-Ya Tea Lounge, Ginza, Japan

There, we rested our bones from the day’s travel, next to a hot (and cold) cup of Joe, er Tea.

Hot and Cold Tea from Ito-Ya's Tea Lounge
Hot and Cold Tea from Ito-Ya’s Tea Lounge

And that concludes Part I yo. WHEW!

Sorry, but there are CHOKE photos from the kushikatsu restaurant, so you’re gonna have to wait for those in part II. *grin*

Talk to me!
* Been to any of these hotspots yourself?
* How were your experiences there?
* Gonna check um out next time you go to Japan?
* What are the “must-trys” at the places I went to so far, but missed?
* Did I make you hungry yet? 😛

Happy New Year y’all! Hope you’re still holding strong by your resolutions this, what, 4th day into the new year. 😉 Shoots!

 Part I  | Part II

P.S. No fo-get fo check out my latest AroundHawaii.com column:

Anuhea Jenkins - Reppin' Hawaii One Song At a Time
Anuhea Jenkins – Reppin’ Hawaii One Song At a Time