The Best Ramen

Don and I were talking about this the other day, and I know Joel expressed interest in starting a thread on this topic. The discussion will center on the best ramen places you’ve eaten at a restaurant (versus the packaged variety). I think we could also include saimin in the discussion, too. I like ramen, but I don’t think I’ve been to enough places to discriminate the good from the great. I’ve been to Goma-Ichi, Goma-Tei, Ezogiku, Tai-Sei, Sanoya, and probably some others I can’t remember right now. I love the tan-tan shiru at Goma-Ichi. In general, I like the ramen that has the layer of Chinese style gravy (gomoku variety). You can get those types at Ezogiku and Tai-Sei. So what’s the best ramen you’ve eaten?

48 Responses to “The Best Ramen”


  1. Mitchell

    Not a comment on the best, but a list of places I can remember trying.

    • Ezogiku, several locations, one of which I once worked at
    • Sumo, several locations
    • Young’s, in Salt Lake
    • Dairyu, in Kapalama
    • Rai Rai, now on Kapahulu
    • Mr. Ojisan, on Kapahulu
    • Ayame, in Kaneohe
    • Sanoya, in Moiliili
    • Taiyo, near Ala Moana
    • Tai Sei, Beretania near the police station
    • Gomaichi, Keeaumoku
    • Goma-Tei, Ward Centre
    • Daruma, Keaaumoku (might be gone now)
  2. Reid

    That’s quite a bit. How about some comments on some of the best and worst places and anything else that might be of interest?

  3. renee

    i’m not sure what gave mitchell the impression that i don’t like ramen… it was probably my less-than-enthusiastic response when he suggested it once. i do like ramen but if it’s among a bunch of other restaurant choices, i’m more likely to pick something else—-especially since what you can find in the supermarket nowadays is actually pretty good (i’m a sun noodles fan =) – their okinawan soba and tonkotsu ramen are my faves). the family of one of my best friends in chiba run a ramen shop called Hosana (talk about marketplace ministry!) – great food, awesome people…

    my sister’s family frequents taishoken on keeaumoku and i often tag along. the ojisan that ran the place was really good – not sure if his successors will be able to keep it up. i usually get a mini shoyu ramen and side dishes like karaage & potato salad. we got their memchar once by mistake and it was really good — rice with menma & their char siu pork.

    during my waikiki versace days, EVERYONE (incl. the japanese sales personnel) loved Nakamura ramen. i think they’ve moved locations since then & i haven’t been there after that. looks like the yelp peeps still like it. ezogiku was a close second. i liked their gomoku ankake dish (crunchy noodles topped with veggies & meat in a gravy-like sauce)… i used to frequent the university location in college.

    menchankotei did a demo at marukai several years ago. that was pretty good too. they are part of a japan chain and the honolulu location is in the waikiki trade center.

    taisei is good – the owners are pretty nice. i used to see them shop at marukai often when i was working there. i LOVE their mabo yakisoba. their noodles just go really well with their mabo tofu. i like their gomoku ankake dish too.

    i tried sumo ramen the other week with emi. i didn’t have very high expectations, but it was better than i thought it would be. emi always gets shoyu ramen and i clean up whatever she doesn’t eat. the ramen here was okay — there were a lot of bean sprouts—even for emi, who loves them—which might have watered down the soup. their gyoza & fried rice were pretty good.

    i know a bunch of people who love yotteko-ya (mccully shopping center). i really didn’t care for their ramen… but i’d go back to eat their other dishes. i guess because of this, i haven’t been dying to try tenkaippin (another healthy, house-made broth place— i really haven’t jumped onto the collagen bandwagon). my japanese cousin just informed me tenkaippin is a japan chain.

    goma-ichi’s tantan men rocks, though i really am overdue for a visit. n8 & co. always go to goma-tei, but i never made it down there. my sister doesn’t think i need to – they prefer taishoken to gomatei… one of my friends used to go to dairyu just for their gyoza. new owner & new location… haven’t checked it out yet. i used to like sanoya’s yakisoba. my cousin mentioned something about it & i haven’t been back since… daruma is long gone… ho, da natsukashii….

  4. Reid

    Thanks for the information. Good to hear from another fan of the gomoku ankake style. The mabo yakisoba you mentioned from Tai Sei sounds interesting. Maybe I can lure my wife to that place, since she’s not a big ramen fan, but she does like mabo.

    This post makes me realize that there’s a lot of places I need to try.

  5. Reid

    Just went to Tenkaippin. We tried the kotteri (chicken broth), assari (chicken/shoyu) and paitan(?)(pork and chicken broth). My brother likes the paitan the best, so that’s why I we tried that. The verdict? The kotteri was my favorite. Everyone was telling me that the broth was “gravy-like,” which intrigued me. It is a slightly thicker broth, but not that close to Chinese style gravy (on chow mein). It’s similar to cream soup broths. The kotteri has a very concentrated chicken taste. In both consistency and somewhat flavor, it reminded me of lipton instant cream of chicken soup. The assari had a milder chicken taste in a shoyu broth. Finally, I found the paitan the least flavorable–it’s as if the pork and chicken cancel each other out. The kotteri is very good–although I didn’t eat a full bowl, so it made be overpowering. It’s good enough where I would say it’s close, in terms of quality to the Goma-Ichi’s tan-tan ramen–although, objectively, I’d say the tan-tan is better–just better blend and balance of flavors. Really, which broth is better depends on your mood.

    Like the tan-tan ramen, the noodles and garnish don’t matter so much; It’s a good thing because the noodles and garnish are mediocre. We also got gyoza and, while it was OK, it was pretty shoddy.

  6. Mitchell

    Would you call places like that upscale ramen? What did you pay for your orders?

  7. Reid

    I wouldn’t call these places “upscale ramen” because I don’t think the preparation, ingredients, price or the ambiance would warrant that description. I can’t remember the exact prices but they were around $8 per bowl. The ramen, fried rice and gyoza set was about $12, if I remember correctly.

  8. Reid

    Goma+Ichi+tan+tan+ramen.jpg

    This is the Tan tan ramen at Goma-Ichi. This is basically the standard tan-tan. My brother said that he tried the vegetable ramen, and the taste was different.

    Goma+Tei+char+siu+tan+tan+ramen.jpg

    This is the Char-siu tan tan ramen at Goma-Tei. You can see what I meant by the char-siu being more like roast pork (local style vs. Chinese style).

    Goma+Tei+chicken+tatsutage.jpg

    This is the tatsutaage at Goma-Tei. You can see how they’re “ball-like,” which ruins it to me by upsetting the ratio between chicken meat and crispy batter.

    Goma+Ichi+chicken+ba+banji.jpg

    This is the chicken ban banji at Goma-Ichi. My brother recommended this. The sauce is “tan-tan” based, for those who just can’t get enough of the stuff, I guess. It’s kinda pricey though (almost $6, and you don’t get much).

  9. Reid

    Pictures of Tenkaippin:

    Tenkaippin.jpg
    Here’s an exterior shot. The restaurant is located on Kapahulu, next to an music store. It’s a tiny place, mostly bar sitting, with a few tables that seat four people.

    Tenkaippin+assari+_chicken+shoyu_.jpg.html?g2_imageViewsIndex=1
    This is the assari ramen, which is a chicken and shoyu based ramen. It was alright.

    Tenkaippin+chicken+wings.jpg
    Chicken wings that are just OK. It’s not something I’d recommend or get.

    Tenkaippin+kotteri+_chicken_.jpg
    Here’s the paitan, which is a chicken and pork based broth. The pork actually takes away from the soup, imo–which you will discover when you taste the koterri. I do like the fried garlic, though.

    Tenkaippin+Paitan+_pork+chicken_.jpg
    Here’s the best ramen that we had–the kotteri, which is the chicken based broth. She how it looks creamy, like the lipton cream of chicken soup. It has the same thickness and richness. I know that doesn’t sound like a compliment, but this was really good.

  10. Don

    I just went to Nihon Noodles on King St and had the Hakata Ramen. The shiru is pretty darn good, however the Char Siu is not. It’s very lean pieces of meat.

    The Hakata is a pork based soup and looks kinda like the kotteri, but in my opinion much better.

  11. Reid

    Much better?! Whoa, I gotta check this out.

  12. Mitchell

    Where on King is that?

  13. Reid

    I think this is the one at the mauka end of the Penny’s street.

  14. cindy

    Yotteko Ya in McCully Shopping Center (Upstairs)

    I haven’t been there in quite a while, and parking is usually pretty hard to get, but I think they fly their noodles in from Kyoto and offer patrons a choice of having them cooked Japanese-style (more al dente) or local (a bit softer) in a rich pork/chicken broth.

    I like Goma-Ichi too, but I think Yotteko overall has the best texture of noodles and feeling of authenticity. I tried Tenkaippin a couple of times. I went recently after seeing the “Ultimate Japan” guy’s endorsement (with Musashimaru) about how this was the best ramen in Hawaii, but couldn’t really get into it. It seems that since the endorsement, they play episodes of the show on a big flat screen TV during service with the volume turned up, and even though this is a big franchise in Japan with most of their ingredients flown in, I just don’t feel that there’s enough soul in the bowl somehow. ??

  15. Reid

    Hey stranger! Good to see you posting.

    Really, no soul? In the kotteri? I can see you saying that about the assari or paitan, but the kotteri has rich yumminess that seems pretty “deep” to me. Their broths seem on the oily side though. (They seem to have more oil globules than other broths I’ve seen.)

    I also don’t think the noodles at Tenkaippin or Goma-Ichi are exceptional; they’re just serviceable imo. But the shiru is so good, as I said in some other posts, they make the noodles and garnish almost irrelevant.

    I’ll put Yotteko Ya on my list of places to try. Do you have any recommendations?

  16. cindy

    Hey Reid 🙂

    I just noticed your post after looking at the intro thread…started uh…4ish years ago?! Wow.

    I think they give you a choice of soup base flavors– shoyu, shio, and miso (along with some super special soup base that got added later…that come to think of it, I haven’t tried because, I liked the ordinary choices just fine. That’s weird. I usually try the super secret special thing once if only out of curiosity. I must have not have felt like spending another one or two bucks I guess.

    They feature different forms of their special roast pork with a Kakuni special where there seems to be more little chunks of pork vs. the usual slices, and they have something with Kim Chi mixed in. Honestly, I think the real star are the noodles themselves and the rest is up to taste. You can’t go wrong (unless you’re Penny and don’t like pork. Oh yeah. That’s why we never ate there). Whatever you order, I think there’s the option to make different combos with gyoza and fried rice. I like their gyoza. They taste freshly made, plump, meaty, and you can taste the ginger and see some green onion. I remember liking the fried rice, but don’t usually order it because I have enough carbs with the ramen. They have some other appetizers and sides that I haven’t had because I’m a creature of habit and like eating just ramen and gyoza at ramen places.

    I haven’t been back for a while, so I hope my “Favorite” rating holds up.

    Good to read you again (slight pun unintended)!

  17. Reid

    Ha!

    Thanks for the recommendations. Basically, I can’t go wrong, since the noodles are the star. Hopefully, I can check this place out soon.

  18. Reid

    Nihon Noodle (on King St in McCully; near McDonald’s)
    Nihon+Noodle+004.jpg

    I went here several weeks ago with my brother and sister, based on Don’s positive review. Just by chance Don and Tracy happened to be there! Before ordering, he explained that while he thought the Hakata soup was better than Tenkaippin’s kotteri, he never really cared for the kotteri.

    Nihon+Noodle+003.jpg
    I got the trio sampler–you get the three different soup bases and the specific noodles (different sizes) that accompany them. I believe the one on the left is the Sapporo (miso based); the one in the middle is the hakata (tonkatsu broth); and the one of the right is the Tokyo (shoyu based). I can’t remember which noodles (thin, medium or thick) went with which broth, and I don’t know if it would have mattered.

    The verdict? Well, I was bit disappointed. I believe that Don didn’t care for the kotteri because it’s too rich and strong. I can see why he would prefer the hakata, which had a more subtle flavor. I found the hakata a little bland. Actually, that applies more to the other soups. The soups also were pretty oily, too. (You can see the oil droplets in the picture.) It also didn’t help that the soup wasn’t very hot when it came to us.

    Nihon+Noodle+002.jpg
    I believe this was the Sapporo ramen that Larri got. She got this with the curry and gyoza set.

    Nihon+Noodle+001.jpg
    This is a jumbo order that my brother got. It was pretty huge; Joel couldn’t finish it.

  19. pen

    It’s not fat, it’s collagen…and it’s good for my skin. Luminosity. Yup, that’s what I tell myself.

    Here’s my Yotteko-Ya vs. Tenkaippin throwdown:

    Noodles – Yotteko-Ya. Fresh, homemade and boiled to order (local style is boiled a little longer for softer noodles, Japanese style is more al dente).

    Soup Base – Tie. Tenkaippin has the thicker broth (kotteri), but some may find it too thick and rich for their liking. Yotteko-Ya’s paitan base is a little lighter and thinner. Both taste awesome.

    Chasu – Yotteko-Ya. So tender and tasty.

    Karaage chicken – Tenkaippin. Juicy without being overly oily and a crisp golden brown and delicious. The Yotteko-Ya version tasted a little strange to me. Flavor was off somehow.

    Gyoza – Tie. Both were well made, but I think Tenkaippin gives more.

    Service – Tie. Both places have a few (or only one person) working very hard.

    Ambiance – Yotteko-Ya is a little cozier in set-up as well as lighting. You don’t feel as rushed here (see pics).

  20. Reid

    Ichiben (next to Waimalu Times)

    I believe Mitchell reviewed and liked this place.

    I had the Ichiben (char-siu, egg, kamaboko, and other veggies) in a paitan shiru. I think I recall MItchell saying the flavor was mild and subtle. The less kind description would be bland, and I sort of lean towards a negative reaction toward the shiru. The noodles were fresh, chewy, although they were pretty close to S&S quality, imo.

    We got a mini-bbq chicken bowl for the kids. Larri really loved the bbq chicken for some reason.

    Larri ordered the mabotofu on noodles. The sauce wasn’t very flavorful, imo. Larri seemed to like it OK, although she added a lot red pepper flakes to the sauce.

  21. Reid

    Jin Din Rou (corner of King and Kaheka(?); Ewa of the old Cinerama Theater)

    Stop the presses: this might be the best ramen I’ve eaten. Yes, it could be better than Tenkkaipin’s kotteri or paitan and Goma Ichi’s tan-tan ramen. In fact, my brother describes the tan tan ramen at Jin Din Rou as a cross between Goma Ichi’s tan-tan and Tekkaipin’s paitan. That may not be completely accurate, but it gives you an idea of the soup base.

    With their tan-tan ramen, there is what appears to be a choi sum and granules of ground beef. The beef flavor goes really well with the broth in my opinion. Like Goma-ichi’s tan-tan, I didn’t really notice the noodles (although they were at least adequate). It was really good. (However, it is a bit heavy–as in oily. Don, take note. Also, you will be tempted to drink all of the shiru, but I don’t think it’s a good idea.) The shiru also has that kind of pasty quality that you see in miso soup. I liked that for some reason.

    With the ramen, I got the famous dumplings (Xiao long bao–Shanghai dumplings.) They come in different varieties but the waitress recommended the standard version. There’s a way they recommend eating the dumplings, too: 1) dip the dumplings in a black vinegar sauce; 2) put the dumplings in a spoon and poke a hole to release the shiru for the dumplings; 3) put some shredded ginger on the dumplings and eat. I liked the shredded ginger, but I thought there wasn’t enough shiru in the dumpling and/or it didn’t have enough flavor. Actually, the first one I tried had good flavor, but the flavor seemed to diminish with each dumpling (they give four). (The dumplings cooled down quite quickly and that took a little away from the enjoyment.)

    At first, I thought it was hard to tell if these dumplings were better than Ming’s, but by the end, I thought Ming’s was better.

    Oh, another thing. The pasta skin of the dumplings were more like manapua bread, except cut thinner. I prefer the more pasta-y wrap used in pork hash (which is the way MIngs does it).

    Anyway the meal was around $10.

    Winner!

  22. joel

    Reid,

    Glad you enjoyed the experience as much as I did. I am also glad we got there right when it opened because we got good service and the presentation was good. (If you go right in the heart of a lunch or dinner rush…the presentation of the food suffers) I also like the clean flavors you get at this restaurant…something you don’t always get at chinese restaurants…where speed and “authenticity” are most important.

    I’ve have been there 3 times and all three times I can never pull myself away from ordering the same thing because the rest of the menu doesn’t look as appealing to me…also Aki tried the veg ramein and the fried rice…all okay…but nothing as tasty as the tan tan noodle.

  23. Don

    I also went to Jin Din Rou and have to agree with the Brother’s Tamashiro that the Tan Tan was really good. The Shanghai dumpling though, imo, was very bad. Probably the worst that I’ve had. The texture of the filling was gritty (and sort of dry), and there was very little sauce in the dumplings. I think that they make them in advance which is why they are not good. My mom got the Won Ton noodle, and the shiru in that is also very good. Not the normal Won Ton min sauce, nor is it like the shoyu based ramen sauce, but much more flavorful.

    All that being said, the noodles at Jin Din Rou is sort of Chinese style noodles, versus the regular ramen noodles. The noodles are curly and kinky, sort of like when you cook Top Ramen (maybe not that curly though). It’s okay, but I think I prefer regular ramen noodles.

    I also just went to Goma Tei, and although the Tan Tan ramen sauce is not nearly as good as Jin Din Rou, they give a bigger portion (I got the small at Jin Din Rou), and their version of the char siu is huge (bordering on overkill if you get the char siu ramen with three huge pieces). I would say if you going for quantity, Goma Tei is a better choice.

  24. Reid

    Don,

    But key question: which tan-tan do you like better, Goma-ichi or Jin Din Rou? (Btw, how was the oil/rich factor of the broth for you? I thought it might be a potential turn off. Also, the sodine factor was a concern–which is always a concern with ramen, but this seemed worse.)

    Also, I can understand your comments about the Shanghai dumplings. They were dry, and when I think about it, there didn’t seem to be as much filling. On the other hand, I had a positive reaction to the first one I had–although I liked the fresh ginger and delicate texture of the dumpling, more than the flavor of the filling. The dumplings got cold quite quickly, so the dumplings got progressively worse for me.

    As for the noodles, my brother thought Goma-Ichi’s was better. I really couldn’t remember, and I didn’t really care. I think if they used Top Ramen noodles I would have been fine with it. 🙂

    As for Goma-Tei, I can’t remember the portion size, but you’re probably right. Definitely Goma-Tei’s char-siu ramen gives a lot more meat. (The char siu I got was not well-prepared the time I went, and it wasn’t as great as John Heckathorn claimed.) Having said that, I think the tan-tan at Jin Din Rou is pretty filling–unlike Goma-Ichi’s–but that’s because the soup is so rich/oily.

  25. Mitchell

    Number one on my spring break list.

  26. Don

    Jin Din Rou is a better choice as far as taste. FYI: I went for dinner and I was not given a choice of the sets, which comes with choice of ramen and choice of dumplings. I had to order everything ala carte.

  27. Reid

    Lucky Belly

    We had the belly bowl–bacon, pork belly (I think) and sausage (arabiki style). It also comes with choi sum (I think) and a soft boiled egg. The noodles were pretty standard (probably sun). The shiru was a nice pork based broth. Solid, but not outstanding, although I can see if some will disagree with me.

    We also tried the shrimp, kim-chee bowl. The shrimp was fried in togarashi batter(?). I think we got three or four medium-sized shrimp. It was pretty good, but nothing mind-blowing, imo.

    We also ordered the pork belly bao. I mean, it was pork belly. The hoisin sauce was what you would expect, but it was solid.

    We also tried the shrimp dumplings, which came with an avocado, edamame paste. It was just OK.

  28. Mitchell

    I finally tried Tenkaippin. I think I agree with everything everyone has already said about the kotteri. I like it. It’s not quite as good as Gomaichi’s Tan Tan. I think the kotteri is delicious. But when I take my first sip of the tan tan shiru, it’s like fireworks in my mouth and I get all excited.

    There’s a kotteri sauce that tastes kind of like chili-pepper worcestershire. Drizzled just a little in the kotteri broth and it was improvement. There’s also this chili-garlic mixture they put on your table. I used a bunch of that about midway through the bowl and it was also an improvement. Then, with a few swallows left, I added white vinegar and THAT was an improvement.

    Agree with Reid: mediocre noodles and garnishes, but it was nice to get two slices of char siu.

    Penny seems to like the gyoza, but the gyoza is weak.

    I go to the Starbucks on the other end of that building all the time (it closes at 11 every night), so it’s kind of amazing that it’s taken me this long to try Tenkaippin. I’ll be back!

  29. Don

    Mitchell,

    I know Reid likes to eat Ramen over Pho any day of the week, twice on Sundays. How ’bout you?

  30. Mitchell

    Well, since I practically grew up on ramen (my mom used to manage one of the Ezogiku restaurants) and have only recently begun to eat pho, I have to side with Reid. But there is definitely something to be said for pho, and as I expand my pho horizons, it’s coming up on my list. I may answer differently a few years from now, but for now it’s ramen. Remember, I once ate at Gomaichi for four meals in two days.

  31. Reid

    Where can you get good noodles at a ramen place? My sense is that most of them are mediocre.

    Don,

    I haven’t been to many pho places, so that could be a reason I like ramen more. (I need to check out that place in the Chinese Cultural Plaza. It’s hard because Larri doesn’t care for pho, but I think she could get into it if she gave another shot.)

    Mitchell,

    Did you ever go to Jin Din Ro? I wish I could still get their tan tan ramen.

  32. Mitchell

    Penny mentions above that Yotteko-Ya has good noodles. My own choice is Tai Sei, which has the best ramen noodles I’ve ever had.

    Of course “most of them” have mediocre noodles. I think that’s the definition of mediocre, no? And since there is only a small number of noodle makers in town, restaurants that don’t make their own are only getting them from the same place as everyone else, which would explain that.

  33. Mitchell

    I never went to Jin Din Ro. It came and went far too quickly.

  34. Reid

    Mediocre, as in moderate or low quality. What I’m saying is that the average noodle is not very good. (It’s possible that the average noodle could be quite good, right?)

    I haven’t eaten at Tai Sei in a long time. I don’t remember the noodles being much better than other places, but I should give it another shot. I need to try Yotteko-Ya.

    Too bad you missed out on Jin Din Ro. I could see you going crazy for the shiru.

  35. Don

    It’s unanimous. I would favor ramen over pho as well. Comparing my favorite ramen (ie: tonkotsu, hakata, etc) versus my favorite pho, it’s no comparison. Ramen soup has so much more depth and texture. However, if I’m comparing the average ramen versus the average pho, I would go with pho. This is because pho seems so much heartier with all the meat and veggies you can add. Plus the cost of pho is normally much more reasonable.

  36. Mitchell

    I think it depends on what you mean by “not very good.” I’ll agree that most places’ noodles are “not very good,” in that they are just average, just okay, and not very good. Good, but not VERY. But usually (and I think this is what you mean), when we say “not very good,” we mean somewhat south of good enough, and that’s where I’ll disagree. Noodles are a lot like rice, don’t you think? I’ve been a few places where the rice was not good, but most places, the rice is okay.

    I would be depressed if the noodles at most ramen shops were not even okay.

    I’ve heard people say the noodles at Tai Sei are just okay, but I taste a definite difference, so even if you diasgree that they’re great, I think you’ll agree that they aren’t just like everyone else’s. Tai Sei is one of the very few places where I’ll occasionally order the cold noodle, because I think the dipping style works so much better with noodles this good.

  37. Reid

    Noodles are a lot like rice, don’t you think?

    But don’t you expect more from noodles than you do from rice–at least some of the time? Noodles can be very good, whereas rice tends not to be so much better than OK. (Kurt says that there’s a big difference between rice grown in Japan versus rice grown in other places, but my sense for rice quality isn’t as keen as his.) The noodles in ramen places are OK, but they could be better–and I almost never feel that way about rice.

  38. Mitchell

    Okay, so you think that in most places, the noodles are okay? Then we are again in agreement.

  39. Mitchell

    What a surprise. The three (2.5, really) Japanese boys chose ramen over pho. I wonder if we could find other ethnic equivalences where we would all vote against Japanese.

    Bao vs. Nikuman? No. I’d take nikuman every time.

    How about pad Thai vs. yakisoba?

  40. Don

    re Nikuman:

    I have to be honest, I had to google that to make sure what it was. I was right, but only because you related it to bao would I have guessed what it was. Where do you get that here? At 7/11? I think I would rather have a manapua if that’s in the bao catagory.

    re Yakisoba:

    There something in Yakisoba that gives it a sort of “weird” or different taste. Do you guys know what I mean? I like okinawan soba though, so I think I would lean to yakisoba, but it’s not as clear cut. I’m sure Reid would take cake noodle over either any day. Me too for that matter.

  41. Reid

    Takahashiya Tonkotsu

    I believe this is the place Don raved about (on Kapahulu, next to Ono Hawaiian). Mitchell, Grace and I went here last weekend. I think Don raved about the spicy broth, but I didn’t get that (I should have. What deterred me was the description of “really spicy.”) Anyway, I get the combo ramen, with the local style tonkotsu. It was solid, although the ramen was a bit tepid. Mitchell got the same thing, but he tried the “Tokyo style” (which seemed very similar, except a bit saltier).

    I also ordered some grilled food–the prime rib (or some kind of beef on a skewer) and the gizzards. Both were OK. (Ordering this was kind of confusing, though. It didn’t help that our waitress was both new and not a native English speaker.)

  42. Don

    I think I didn’t really care for the spicy broth, and if I went back I would get the regular.

    My ramen was hot from what I remember.

    Are you saying you would still choose Gomaichi? What about Tenkappin? I would lean towards the Tonkotsu over both.

  43. mitchell

    “If I went back?” Didn’t you say this was the best ramen you’ve ever had?

    The Tokyo style is the way to go, if you ask me. The tonkotsu broth was quite good; definitely better than anything I ever had growing up, but it doesn’t come close to Gomaichi’s tan-tan. It does come close to Tenkaippin’s tonkotsu broth (they have a nice bowl now called black tonkotsu, which is the tonkotsu broth drizzled with black sesame oil); in fact I’d call it a toss-up. The one nice thing Takahashiya has over Tenkaippin is that the bowl is rather small at Tenkaippin. If you don’t order a side, you’re just BARELY going to be satisfied, and maybe not even that. I’ve been told they’ve reduced serving sizes noticeably in the past year.

    Takahashiya’s special bowl is pretty big, and it’s got lots of stuff in it, so although it’s $14, it feels like a better deal than what you get at Tenkaippin.

    However, the kotteri at Tenkaippin blows away Takashiya’s tonkotsu. Sorry.

  44. Don

    I really don’t care for the kotteri at Tenkaippin the one time I had it. I feel like it’s way too thick and gooey, and the taste was sort of like really thick chicken noodle soup. I had a kotteri in Japan and it was much better but in general I rather have tonkotsu ramen.

  45. Mitchell

    I was going to try this other new place on Kapahulu yesterday, but couldn’t find parking, so I found myself back at Takahashiya. I pretty much ordered the same thing but added an order of gyoza. The gyoza was surprisingly fresh-tasting, and it wasn’t overly gingery, the way so many local places make it. The pork flavor really came through. The gyoza didn’t blow me away, but it was a nice surprise.

    The service was (again) overly ingratiating. The waitress (a different one from last time) asked me if I wanted to try the super-spicy chili mixture with my gyoza. I said, “No, I think I’m fine with what’s on the table.” She asked me again and said it was a special blend made by the chef. So I said okay.

    It was served in a small dish, the kind you dip gyoza into, and was this little lump of chili paste. I poured the shoyu over it, and man: it was delicious. Super flavorful and not very hot at all. The shoyu, too, had an interesting flavor to it, and you could tell it had been monkeyed with in some way.

    Anyway, not really a place I will go out of my way to dine at again, but it’s not a bad second option.

  46. mitchell

    New ramen places are popping up all over in Honolulu. I find it kind of exciting, even though I’m still catching up on the places that sprung up in the LAST explosion a few years ago.

    A colleague sent me this interesting NY Time profile on a ramen chef based in New York. One of the things I found interesting was where he thinks his explorations might take him next: possibly other old stand-bys such as hiyashi.

    Hiyashi is pretty much hiyashi. I think it would be really neat to see people experiment with that, one of my real comfort foods.

    Here’s the link. Warning: might make you hungry.

  47. Reid

    I couldn’t see the link. What’s hiyashi?

  48. mitchell

    That’s weird. Try pasting it: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/18/dining/a-life-of-noodles-comes-full-circle.html?_r=0

    I clicked it and it worked fine for me.

    Hiyashi is cold noodle.

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