Posts Tagged ‘Windward side’

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! πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ˜‰ 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! πŸ™‚

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 πŸ˜› , 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. πŸ˜‰

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. πŸ˜›

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. πŸ˜›

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! πŸ˜‰

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

Shave Ice Ice Baby

July 1, 2006

Something fishy is definitely going on here… The airports have been bustling with college folk and local eateries and nightclubs are a’ bumpin’. You’re no longer alone at the beaches and malls, and there’s an unusually large amount of parties and family functions to get to. And let’s not ignore the fact that you’re sweating profusely like Kalua pig at a luau. Yep gang… like Bell Biv Devoe’s Poison, Summer is in full effect!

So what should we do this summer as the sun torches down on us and parches our tender little, post-winter throats? Nothing. The weather hasn’t changed here in Hawaii since, like, forever silly.

But seriously… Let’s just say, you know, hypothetically, that we were coming out of one of our coldest “winters” ever. Brrrr… And this “Spring” thing also did a number on us. Wouldn’t we be looking forward to Mr. Sun showing his adorable face to us and defrosting our buns? Wouldn’t you be craving a refreshing, beverage-ish snack, that’s both an island favorite and a tourist attraction all the same?

Say no more. The Ed is here to help you.

Shave Ice, as it’s known here in the islands (not snow cones or shaved ice), is the perfect summertime treat to quench one’s thirst buds after a long, hot day in the sun. Yes, it is a bit clichΓ©, but you have to admit, gathering a bunch of friends to laugh and gossip and share small kid time stories, while lapping up this magical frozen water/syrup-py concoction is still good times.

One such place that specializes in this delicacy is the original Waiola Store, located on the corner of Pa`ani and, of course, Waiola.

Corner of Pa`ani and Waiola
Corner of Pa`ani and Waiola

Hidden on an inconspicuous road, and nestled in between homes in a quiet neighborhood, this island favorite sits peacefully on the corner, as sweets-seeking patrons stop by.

Waiola Store
Waiola Store

(! – Not to be confused with Waiola Bakery & Shave Ice, located on Kapahulu Avenue. For purposes of this review, I’ll be sticking to the O.G. – Original Gem – Waiola Store that got it all started)

Waiola Store actually started as a small convenience store, selling miscellaneous knickknacks like sodas, chips, crack seed and frozen goods many moons ago.

Inside Waiola Store
Inside Waiola Store

It wasn’t until they started gaining popularity as a shave ice selling hotspot that they really took off. Now, you can’t find a day when the crowd inside the store compares to the line outside near their specially created shave ice side window.

Shave Ice window at Waiola Store
Shave Ice window at Waiola Store

Waiola’s, as they are endearingly referred to as, is known for their finely shaved ice. You won’t find the rock-hard chunks of ice here. They also offer a vast menu selection with unique flavors and add-ons that you may not see at other shave ice specialty stores. Unique add-ons like mochi balls, li hing mui seeds, lilikoi cream and chocolate syrup.

Waiola Store's ecclectic menu
Waiola Store’s ecclectic menu

On this occasion, I didn’t get too complicated. I just ordered a small cup with mochi balls and condensed milk… strawberry flavor.

The famous Waiola shave ice
The famous Waiola shave ice

(! – That’s something I forgot to mention. If you’re new at this shave ice ordering thing, the flavor should be the least of your worries. To fit in like you’ve been doing this for years, be sure to order your size and add-ons first. This way, they can start preparing it for you. The flavored syrup is added last and, as such, you would order that last.)

Waiola Store
2135 Waiola Street
Honolulu, HI 96826 (map)
(808) 949-2269

Waiola Bakery & Shave Ice
525 Kapahulu Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815 (map)
(808) 735-8886

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The Island Snow store in Kailua serves up shave ice alongside of their collection of surf/snow/street apparel. It’s a popular stop for those going to one of the many beautiful beaches on the Windward side, Lanikai being my favorite.

Island Snow sign
Island Snow sign

In addition to being able to buy their name brand apparel at the same time as your treat, Island Snow has a few other unique features when it comes to their shave ice flavors. They have catchy names that turn ordinary-sounding flavors into exciting ones. Godzilla Grape, Kuulei Coconut, Da-Kine Lemon Lime and Kailua Coffee to name a few. They also set up their colorful collection of syrups above a lighted counter-top, much like you’d find your assortment of drinks at a fancy nightclub or contemporary bar.

Island Snow flavors
Island Snow flavors

This time, I ordered a regular with no ice cream… Pali Lilikoi & Wacky Watermelon combo. Pretty big eh?

Island Snow shave ice
Island Snow shave ice

(! – All shave ice treats from Island Snow include up to 3 flavors & a scoop of ice cream, unless you don’t want it.)

Island Snow – Kailua
Kailua Beach Center
130 Kailua Road
Kailua, HI 96734 (map)
(808) 263-6339

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What’s a conversation about shave ice in Hawaii without mention of the world famous M. Matsumoto Grocery Store in Haleiwa town, otherwise known as Matsumoto’s Shave Ice?

M. Matsumoto Grocery Store sign
M. Matsumoto Grocery Store sign

Matsumoto’s has the richest history and gets the largest media coverage of any shave ice store in the state and perhaps the world. And though there are many naysayers who claim that Waiola’s or even Haleiwa neighbor Aoki’s is better, you can’t question Matsumoto’s popularity.

Like Waiola Store, Matsumoto’s started as (and continues to be) a convenience-type store. Though, these days, most of their products caters to the tourist and shave ice crowd (sun tan lotion, hats, logo apparel, beachwear, snacks, etc.).

The menu looks like the same one they’ve had since they opened, and the prices seemed to have stayed the same as well. Just $1.30 for a small! Over the years, they’ve attached little one-piecers as they’ve added new flavors like mango, lychee and melona. Funny, but cute. A reminder of the mom and pops feel still present here.

Matsumoto's menu
Matsumoto’s menu

The equipment they use looks quite heavy duty. Is that an industrial strength motor? Wowsers!

Matsumoto's shave ice machines
Matsumoto’s shave ice machines

The photo from my friend’s shave ice came out nicer, so we’ll show it instead of mine. She ordered a vanilla/cotton candy combo FYI.

Matsumoto's shave ice
Matsumoto’s shave ice

(! – Be careful of the killah bees when eating outside. They usually swarm around the trash can slurping on the sweet juices. I’ve never been stung, but you never know… Just be sure you’re not in the area when they are hungry!)

M. Matsumoto Grocery Store
66-087 Kamehameha Highway
Haleiwa, Hawaii 96712 (map)
(808) 637-4827

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Other notable shave ice joints around the state:

Jo Jo’s Clubhouse – Waimea (Kauai)
On the way to or coming back from the long drive to/from Waimea Canyon, you’ll see the bright sign of Jo Jo’s from Kaumualii Highway.

Jo Jo's Clubhouse
Jo Jo’s Clubhouse

Jo Jo’s Clubhouse
Mile Marker 23, Kaumualii Highway (Hwy. 50)
Waimea, Hawaii 96796 (map)
(808) 635-7615

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Itsu’s Fishing Supplies Inc. – Hilo (Big Island)
Known to the locals as “ice shave”, Itsu’s serves up this winner alongside of local style plate lunches, in addition to doubling as as a fishing supplies store.

Itsu's Fishing Supplies, Inc. (Photo by Nancy Vereze)
Itsu’s Fishing Supplies, Inc. (Photo by Nancy Vereze)

Itsu’s Fishing Supplies Inc.
810 Piilani Street
Hilo, HI. 96720 (map)
(808) 935-8082

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Scandinavian Shaved Ice, Inc. – Kailua-Kona (Big Island)
Across from the Palace in town, this shaved ice has ice cream in the middle. (Mahalo for the info Wendy & Jay!)

Scandinavian Shaved Ice, Inc. (Photo courtesy jatbar.com)
Scandinavian Shaved Ice, Inc. (Photo courtesy jatbar.com)

Scandinavian Shaved Ice, Inc.
75-5699 Alii Drive
Kailua-Kona, HI. 96740 (map)
(808) 331-1626

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Tasaka Guri Guri Shop – Maui Mall, Kahului (Maui)
Yeah, I know, this is not really shave ice, but we can’t pass up the chance to mention this famous sweet, sweet, juice, soda and condensed milk concoction can we???

Noelle, Kelvin, Hillary, myself, Grant and Shari outside of Tasaka Guri Guri
Noelle, Kelvin, Hillary, myself, Grant and Shari outside of Tasaka Guri Guri

Tasaka Guri Guri Shop
70 E Kaahumanu Avenue
Kahului, HI 96732 (map)
(808) 871-4513

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I know I’ve missed tons of your favorites from around the state. I guess that’s what you get for keeping me cooped up all day here in Mililani. Sorry dudes and dudettes, but be sure to let me have it by posting your favorite shave ice (or any sweets) hotspot in the comments section below. Now stop reading this and get back out there and enjoy your summer won’tcha?