Ramen Dreams: My Top 10

I love ramen! What makes it so awesome is the synergy of the broth, the noodles, and the chashu. Such a magical dish. I’ve been searching for my fave bowl of ramen on Oʻahu for the past four years. Hard work, yes. So here are my Top 10 favorite ramen-ya:

10. Goma Tei in Ward Centre has been a long-time favorite. The Tan Tan Ramen is spicy and so, so comforting. One of the first shops to bring “craft” ramen to Hawaiʻi. The curry, the Tatsuta-age Chicken, etc, etc. This shop started it all….

9. Lucky Belly in Chinatown offers up Asian fusion fare and a trendier type of ramen rather than the traditional. The Belly Bowl is flavorful, beefy, porky, and slightly spicy, with hints of miso, ginger, & sesame. Who wouldn’t want a sausage in their ramen?

8. Ramen Manichi, the one on Kona Street (and NOT the one in Shirokiya) is another great shop with long lines. It came at around the same time as Golden Pork Ramen Bar (and that’s why I always confuse the two.) Manichi uses some type of water filtration for their broth. Huh? Either way, tastes really good.

7. Hokkaido Ramen Santouka is located at the entrance of Don Quijote on Kaheka. They have a good Shio Ramen and a good Kara Miso, but the one to get is the Shoyu. Nice broth, chewy noodles, and tasty toppings. Good stuff.

6. Tsujita is a newcomer, located in the Waikiki Yokocho Gourmet Alley in the Waikiki Shopping Plaza. The Yokocho in my opinion, is the best food court in Hawaiʻi. Tsujita’s specialty is their Tsukemen dipping noodles. Mind-blowing, chewy, toothsome noodles….

5. Wagaya is located across the McCully McDonald’s. I would go for the Tsukemen here as well. The broth is deep, flavorful, & complex, and the noodles are curly and have a great texture. They have the best ajitama egg here. They even have beef tongue on the menu!

4. Agu Ramen Bistro (Isenberg location) is next-level, gourmet ramen. It is expensive, but it is amazing. My fave bowl here is the Spicy Kotteri (level #2 spiciness.) The broth has layers upon layers of flavor. This shop also has great small plates (side dishes) from gyoza, to jellyfish, to pig ears.

3. Menya Musashi is on Pensacola Street. To me, this shop has the best broth, the best noodles, and the best chashu (kakuni.) Disclaimer: when they are on their “A-game,” they are by far the best. By far. But, I have found them to be inconsistent. On an “off day,” ooh not so much…

2. Kiwami on Keʻeaumoku was my go-to place for tsukemen. WAS…. It shut down. I was devastated to see the chains on the door. No more Spicy Tsukemen (medium spiciness with noodles served hot) for me.

1. Japanese Ramen Kai was my hands-down fave ramen-ya on Oʻahu. I was traumatized when they closed as well. The owner got homesick and moved back to Japan, taking all of his recipes with him. Their Goma Cha-Shu Tan Tan was amazing. Their signature Miso Cha-Shu Ramen is now a fading memory. Tear.

I know, I know. My top 2 are sentimental. So I would recommend Menya, Agu, and Wagaya. Check out the Waikiki Yokocho if you can. Happy slurping! Always dreaming of ramen….

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