Friday, February 27, 2009


I'm baaaaack! While I haven't had much time to update this blog in the past few months, by no means did I stop eating ramen. I always have time for ramen. So I'll do my best to get caught up on blogging about a few of the places I went to during my absence, but for now, let me tell you about my recent noodle-fun.

On this very windy and chilly night in Honolulu (70 Degrees, Brrr), I couldn't think of a better thing to eat then some hot noodly-goodness. Since its Aloha Friday and there's no work till Monday, we decided to brave the crowds of tourists to eat at Menchanko-Tei in Waikiki.
While parking is available in the Waikiki Trade Center where Menchanko-Tei is located and they do validate during regular parking hours, during the evening there is usually just a flat rate of $11.00. We decided to park in the Top of Waikiki parking garage on Seaside St (about a 2 minute walk), where the flat rate is $5.00 from 6pm-12am.

While Menchnko-Tei is known for their menchanko, they also have a wide variety of other dishes including ramen, katsu, oden, nabe, and an assortment of appetizers. Of course i decided to have the good old regular menchanko($8.95). So what's menchanko you ask? According to the famous ramen-blogger, Rameniac, Menchanko is a sumo-style stew of traditional Japanese hot pot and ramen noodles.

My menchanko came in the traditional scalding hotpot, loaded with vegetables, tofu, mochi, a pair of shrimp and a piece of pork. The both itself was very mild, but went well with all the flavors of things added. The best part was definitely the piece of pork , but unfortunately there was only one piece. The noodles were also not quite what you'd see in ramen, but actually where more like jumbo ramen noodles. Not really the size or texture of udon, but really just extra large, but by no means overcooked or mushy, ramen noodles.

My friend also had menchanko but opted for the hot miso menchanko ($10.25). His menchanko looked almost exactly like mine with a slightly darker base. However, his broth tasted very different, with a distinct full miso flavor and just enough spicy kick.

In addition to our menchanko, we also had the seafood dynamite. I'm not quite sure what it was but it seemed to be a variety of seafood (shrimp, scalopes, crab, fish), mixed with tomato and onion, covered in a manyonaise sauce and then baked. Despite its strange appearance it ended up being very tasty.

Overall, Menchanko-tei was a perfect place to warm up. The service was fast, efficient and very friendly. Definitely worth the trip into Waikiki.

Waikiki Trade Center
2255 Kuhio Ave # S19
Honolulu, HI 96815
(808) 924-8366

Parking: Waikiki Trade Center (see above for more parking info)
Payment: Cash & Credit/Debt Cards
Alcohol: Beer, Sake, Sochu
Not So Typical Option: Menchanko, Oden
Hours: Sunday - Sautrday 11am - 12am

Friday, November 14, 2008

Yotteko-Ya Kyoto Ramen

After a long day of work and class, there's nothing better than a nice soothing bowl of ramen. Since I didn't get out of class until after 8:00pm, we decided to go somewhere that was open late. Yotteko-Ya Kyoto Ramen was just the place, open till 11:00pm, Monday - Saturday. When we arrived, we were quickly seated at one of two tables that were empty and cleaned off. It seems as though they don't clear off their tables until they're needed, leaving many of tables covered with empty bowls and plates the entire time we were there.

Yotteko-Ya's menu offers different types of ramen, rice and a variety of sides orders, including Gyoza, Kara-age (fried chicken), Ebi Mayonnaise (Shrimp in a sweet mayonnaise sauce). They even have mini sundays for dessert. Unfortunately, like everywhere else, the prices here have gone up. And while they offer a variety of Combo Sets, they're pretty pricey, ranging from $10.45 - $17.45.

On the front of their menu they describe their soup:
"Our homemade soup is simmered for over 10 hours with the choicest pork, the freshest chickens and 10 different vegetables and spices. This meticulous process produces a uniquely thick collagen rich stock that will actually help prevent aging of skin and joints. So please enjoy our soup to the last drop and look younger!"

Yotteko-ya has three different soup bases to choose from: Shoyu Base, Tonshiro (Hawaiian Salt) and the "#1 Recommended Soup Base" Paitan. My friend and I both chose the Paitan "a richer thicker pork based broth which has creamier texture." Along with the type of base, you also get to choose how your noodles are boiled: Japanese Style (traditional firmer noodles) or Local Style (softer noodles). We both had our noodles Japaneses Style.

I had the Yasai (vegetable) Paitan Ramen ($8.95) which was topped with a slice of chashu (charsui), some kind of root, cabbage, onions, sesame seeds and a piece of broccoli. I'm not sure if the broth made me look any younger, but boy was it tasty and unlike anything else I've tasted. Not quite a tonkotsu base or a chicken base but of lovely mixture of both. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

My friend had the Chashu Paitan($8.95) which came with 5 pieces of charsui. For an additional $1, he had Yotteko-Ya's homemade red pepper and sesame oil mixture added. Many ramenya's have this type of spicy pepper paste on their tables with the shoyu, gyoza sauce, etc. for free, so i was a bit skeptical about paying an extra dollar for it, but boy was it worth it. The spicy mixture gave a mega spicy boost to the broth which I had to consume slowly, due to the heat.

While Yotteko-Ya's prices are little higher than most ramenyas, the uniqueness of the broth will definitely persuade me to visit again.

Yotteko-Ya Kyoto Ramen
McCully Shopping Center

1960 Kapiolani Blvd, #214
Honolulu, Hawaii 96826

Parking: McCully Shopping Center Parking Lot
Payment: Cash & Credit/Debt Cards
Alcohol: Beer ($2.95- 3.95)
Not So Typical Option: Paitan Soup Base
Lunch: Monday - Sunday, 11am - 2pm
Dinner: Monday - Saturday, 5pm - 11pm
Sunday/holidays, 5pm - 9pm
Wednesday - CLOSED


On a side note not at all ramen-related, we decided to swing by 7-eleven after dinner to get a Red Bull and I was shocked at what they were selling: SPAM LOVERS Musubi. Its like half a can of spam, almost more spam than rice!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Mikazuki Noodle Shop - Shirokiya, Ala Moana Center

Since I haven't had ramen in more than a week and I was going to Ala Moana to get my nails done anyway, I decided to try Mikazuki Noodle Shop in Shirokiya. With all the yummy food at Shirokiya, its difficult not to get distracted by other tasty treats as you make your way to the noodle shop located by the buffet area of the store. The shop offers a variety of ramen and udon choices and accepts credit/debit cards which is an added bonus. We ordered our ramen at the noodle stand and then got into the buffet line to pay and get drinks. By the time we finished paying, our noodles were ready to be picked up. Luckily, we were eating at 3pm and found a seat right away. However, if you come at a normal meal time, be prepared to wait a while and be ready to run for a table as soon as someone shows signs of leaving.

A little on the hungry side, I didn't take time to study the menu and just ordered the Tokyo Shoyu Ramen ($5.95). It was actually the boiled egg in the picture of the shoyu ramen that got me.

The simple shoyu base was mild and overpowed by the menma. I got to a point where I decided to take all the memna out of the bowl because it was too much. The boiled egg was just plain and unseasoned and the noodles were thin and a little too mushy for my liking. After I order, I saw that they also offered a selection of mini-sized ramen, but I'm glad that I ordered the regular size which seemed a bit mini itself. Best part of the ramen was the charsiu which was sooo tender and moist.

Eric order the kimchee ramen ($7.45) and added wakame. His bowl had a serving of kimchee right on top which added some extra spice and crunch. The broth was very similar to my shoyu broth, with kimchee on top and also some added dried chilli pepper that came with our ramen.

For being "fast food" ramen, Mikazuki Noodle Shop was decent with reasonable prices, but I'd probably not fight to get a table to eat here.

Mikazuki Noodles Shop
Shirokiya - Ala Moana Center
1450 Ala Moana Blvd., #2250
Honolulu, HI 96814

Parking: Ala Moana Parking
Payment: Cash & Debit/Credit Card
Alcohol: None

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Dairyu Ramen & Curry

I discovered Dairyu Ramen & Curry on one of my excursions to Palama Supermarket. Having heard of a Dairyu Ramen shop that used to be on King Street a while back, I was curious to see if this new ramenya that opened in October 2008 had some kind of connection with the old Dairyu.

When we walked into Dairyu, a waitress quickly greeted and seated us. The menu was huge, with a large selections of ramen, curry combinations, udon, friend noodles, cold noodles and Ramen combination sets (the whole menu can be viewed at their website). I needed a little more time then usual to navigate the large menu. Seeing that I needed a little help making a decision, the waitress came over and gave me some suggestions. Since we were the only customers in the restaurant, I took the opportunity to ask about the shop. The waitress informed us that the owner of this Dairyu, who is currently retired in Japan, was also the owner of the Dairyu on King Street.

I may have been a bit overwhelmed by the huge menu, but in the end, Isteered clear of being adventurous and order the Ramen Combination #1 ($6.75) which came with a bowl of ramen (shoyu, miso, shio, or butter) and fried rice.

The ramen tasted like a typical mild shoyu ramen, however at the suggestion of the waitress, I added in the house special Hot oil paste and boy was that yummy. A bit of sesame and hot pepper paste gave the ramen a excellent kick and added flavor.

The fried rice on the other hand needed no additions and was full of flavor. The serving size was also very generous.

With all combination sets, you can add 4 gyoza for just $1, a deal too good to pass up. Fried to perfection, they were well worth my dollar. As usual my eyes were bigger than my stomach and i ended up taking home half of my fried rice and two pieces of gyoza.

My friend also had more than enough food in his Udon Combination ($7.25) that came with a bowl of udon, a bowl of rice and chicken katsu, and a dish of kimchee. The udon had a shoyu base with a hint of sweetness. The katsu was juicy on the inside and very crunchy one the outside. And the kimchee was a nice addition to the meal.

While Dairyu Ramen & Curry is little out of the way, its huge menu and great prices make it a great stop before or after a trip to Palama supermarket.

Dairyu Ramen & Curry
Kapalama Shopping Center
1210 Dillingham Blvd # 14, Honolulu, HI 96814

Parking: Kapalama Shopping Center Parking Lot
Payment: Cash Only
Alcohol: None
Not So Typical Options: HUGE Menu
Hours: Open Daily, 11 am - 9pm

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Another rainy day means another perfect day for ramen. This past un-sunny Sunday while trying to complete Operation: Halloween Costume, we decided to go to Taishoken. When we walked in, the waiter was just finishing up cleaning off a table. It’s a good thing we arrived when we did since every other chair in the place was taken and there were people waiting for seats the rest the time that we were there. We also came right on time for the lunch hour specials that are available between 11:00 – 2:00. They also have happy hour from 2:00 - 6:00 and 9:00 - 10:00 where everything is 10% off. Our order took about 20 minutes to arrive which is unusually long for a ramenya, however there was only one waiter for the 20 or so people eating.

I had my usual, shoyu ramen ($7.50). The shoyu ramen had a strong menma flavor and was load with toppings: Charsiu, menma, green onions nori and fishcake. Where some places load on the topings at the expensive of the noodles, this was not the case at Taishoken. I didnt even come close to finishing all my noodles here because there were tons. I even got the regular size order, but there is an option to get a large. I can't image how many noodles you'd get in a large. I was very happy to have oodles of noodles since they are just soo yummy, likely my favorite part of Taishoken. The noodles were thicker than most ramen noodles but still nice and firm and stayed that way till my last bite.

After digging around in my ramen for a bit, I realized that they forgot to add my requested shoyu egg. When I finally got the attention of the waitor, he apologized and quickly deliverd my egg. Well worth the wait.

In addition to my ramen, I also got a mini charsiu rice ($2.50). Served in a little rice bowl, the charsiu was tender and flavorful but not overly salty. The rice was also flavored with the charsiu and sesame.

Since Eric had never tried tsukenmen before, he order the Pirikara (spicy) tsukenmen ($9.50). Furikake and nori dominated the soups flavor with a bit of spice. The soup was oilier than usual ramen broths and nicely coated the cold noodles when dipped. Eric also ordered the regular size which is good thing because he also got a big heaping searving of them.

My friend had a lunchtime combo special ($8.45) which is the same size as their normal combo just a dollar cheaper since its served at lunch time. He had a mini miso ramen that had a strong miso soup flavor. In addition to the ramen, he also had a chicken katsu and rice. The katsu was moiste and tender but unfortunaely there were only 3 pieces. He quickly finished his meal and moved on to my mini charsiu rice.

Despite the longer than usual wait, we throughoughly enjoyed are visit to Taishoken and left happily stuffed.

Taishoken Ramen

903 Keeaumoku St
Ste C101A
Honolulu, HI 96814
(808) 955-8860

Parking: Metered street parking, paid lot in the back
Payment: Cash Only
Alcohol: None
Not So Typical Options: Tsukemen
Hours: Mon: CLOSED
Tu - Sat: 11:00am - 10:00pm
Sun: 11:00am - 8:30pm

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Taiyo Ramen

After spending too much time today browsing through Japanese ramen websites translated by the great google, I had to eat some ramen. I couldn't decide which ramenya to go to, so we ended up going to the first ramen shop we saw, Taiyo Ramen.

Located on the edge of Ala Moana Shopping Center, Taiyo ramen is part of a mini strip mall, that like its neighbor, has a packed parking lot at peak hours. Luckily, we found a spot right away, but many cars were circling the lot after a while. Korean owned and operated, Taiyo ramen's menu presents all the usual dishes you'd expect to see at a ramen shop with a Korea influence. Service was fast and our food arrived at our table just 5 minutes after we ordered.

Each table gets a tiny (size of a sauce dish) but tasty dish of kimchee with their order. The kimchee is crunchy and flavorful, but not overpowering with just a small spicy kick.

Since Taiyo Ramen is not the typical ramen shop, I decided to try something other than my usual Shoyu ramen. I order the Seafood Ramen - SPICY ($8.75). My ramen was loaded with toppings: cabbage, seaweed, green onions, carrots and a generous amount of seafood (squid, clams and shimp). The ramen was HUGE and the taste resembled the Korea ramen-like dish Champon/jjamppon. The seafood was the main flavor in the both and I asked for my ramen to be spicy, however there was not much kick to it.

Since my friend decided he didn't want to chance ruining his shirt with ramen-slurping splatter, he order the chicken katsu curry ($8.95). The curry had big chucks of onion and carrots and tasted like a typical Japanese curry, however it had a little spice and little less sweetness. The katsu was was juicy and still cruchy even though it was smothered in the curry.

With its quick service, big servings and Korean-hinted menu, Taiyo ramen was a nice change to my usual ramen eating.

Taiyo Ramen
451 Piikoi St, Ste 105
Honolulu, HI 96814
(808) 589-2123

Parking: Lot in front of restaurant
Payment: Cash Only
Alcohol: None
Not So Typical Options: Kimchee Frid Rice

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Gyoza No Osho

On a gloomy and rainy Saturday, there's nothing better than a big bowl of ramen. This gloomy and rainy Saturday we made a trip out to Waikiki to eat at Gyoza No Osho in the King's Village. Unfortunately the King's Village parking lot was full when we arrived, but we luckily found some street parking right down the road.

There were just a few others eating when we arrived so we did not have to wait for a seat. The menu had the usual options, ramen, fried rice, and of course gyoza. But there were a few ramen choices that I've never seen before: Goma Ramen (sesame) and Crab Omelet Ramen. Beer and sake were also available. As usual on my first visit to a ramen shop, I decided to have the Shoyu ramen.

The noodles were nice and firm, but the shoyu base was a bit bland and the charsiu was dry.

My friend had the Garlic Ramen which tasted like a shoyu base with a lot of garlic. The soup had kind of a grainy texture and yummy big flakes of Garlic. He appreciated the fact that the bean sprouts did not outnumber the noodles.

And of course, with gyoza in the title of this ramen shop, we had to try some. We decided on the fried gyoza, but we also had the option of boiled and cheese gyoza. The price of the gyoza was just 3.95 for 6 nice size pieces. The gyoza came out perfectly fried and just seconds after we got our ramen.

Overall, the gyoza out shined the ramen. Service was excellent and very quick. I'd definitely visit again if I was in the area, but I probably wouldn't make a special trip into Waikiki.

Gyoza No Osho
131 Kaiulani Ave
Honolulu, HI 96815
(808) 922-2161

Parking: Limited Garage Parking, Street Parking
Payment: Cash Only
Liquor: Sake, Asahi
Not so typical options: Cheese Gyoza