HONOLULU
Whenever I visit my family in Hawaii, I always complain about how there are so few new restaurants compared to the flurry of restaurant openings in the San Francisco Bay Area.

So when I was visiting this week, my brother suggested I try a new ramen shop that was only two weeks old.

Japanese Ramen Kai is a tiny shop in the strip of businesses across from the Ala Moana Shopping Center. Despite being fairly new, there were quite a few people already dining when we got there for an early dinner. (There was a mix of locals and Japanese tourists, which are a mainstay to Hawaii tourism.)

Ramen Kai specializes in Hokkaido style ramen, which I’m told is made up of yellow and thicker noodles. They seem quite similar to the type of ramen I’ve found around the Bay Area.

They have a nice variety of broth, including shio, shoyu, miso, and tan tan. (You can also select ramen with extra cha shu and extra noodles.) And as an added option, they even offer a curry rice bowl.

My Mom tried the Goma Tan Tan Men while my brother had the shio and I tried the miso (all were $9 a bowl). My Mom’s tan tan men wasn’t very spicy and didn’t taste like the traditional red meaty tan tan sauce I’m familiar with, and my brother said his shio was good and light although his noodles were thinner than mine. I enjoyed the miso, which had a nice richness, but the flavor wasn’t anything special.

We tried the Kai original curry (mini version for $5), and the curry had a good flavor, but my Mom complained that there were hardly any ingredients and it was mostly sauce.

The Last Bite
While I’m always game to try ramen, even on vacation in a hot spot like Hawaii, I didn’t find Ramen Kai unique or different from what I get at home. Still, the quality is solid with a friendly staff so if you have a craving for ramen, it would hit the spot.

Rating: 2 out of 4 camera snaps
2-snaps

 

Japanese Ramen Kai, 1430 Kona St., Honolulu (behind Ala Moana Center). PH: 808.949.8888. Open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. No reservations. Major credit cards accepted.

Shio ramen (salt broth)

Shio ramen (salt broth)

Mini order of Japanese curry (with a side salad) for $5

Mini order of Japanese curry (with a side salad) for $5

Miso ramen

Miso ramen

Ramen Kai has been opened less than two weeks in a strip mall across Ala Moana Center.

Ramen Kai has been opened less than two weeks in a strip mall across Ala Moana Center.

 

4 Responses to Review of Japanese Ramen Kai in Honolulu

  1. Carolyn Jung says:

    You’d think Hawaii would have some decent ramen places, given the large Japanese population. Hmmm, do you think ramen is not quite so popular there because the tropical climate makes it a bit harder to be in the mood for a giant bowl of piping hot broth?

    • Ben Ben says:

      Oh, ramen is really popular in Hawaii. But like many things in Hawaii, lack of competition makes restaurants complacent, knowing people will still come because where else can you go? Hopefully with this new opening, and maybe more, there will be more restaurants pushing for an edge. And then maybe things will improve.

  2. Mai says:

    The ramen looks similar to but much better than Ramen Underground though. I’m still hoping to find a good ramen in the Bay.

    • Ben Ben says:

      Mai, have you gone to any of the ramen places in San Mateo. I like any of the Santa Ramen/Dojo/Parlour ones. This Hawaii location is actually better than Ramen Underground, so you’re right there.