Traditional paper lantern beckons people to Tenkaippin

It’s the end of 2011, and I’m cleaning out my files to make room for the new. And that’s when I discovered I had one more post from my trip to Honolulu back in September. So here’s my look at Tenkaippin Ramen in the Kapahulu neighborhood.

I ended up at Tenkaippin after an experimental dinner with my Mom, brother and nephew. The restaurant we went to featured small plates, which didn’t cut it for my Mom. So we ended up having to get more food, and that’s how we made it to Tenkaippin, which is near Waikiki.

Tenkaippin is a major chain in Japan, and it has an outpost in Honolulu that has been quite popular. But it moved to a new strip mall that also houses a Jamba Juice and Kozo Sushi and some critics say it lost some of its taste in its ramen in the move.

The spot isn’t fancy, and has that local feel of a long-time ramen spot with the no-nonsense furnishings and cash-only policy. The ramen selection is a bit different than I’m used to in the Bay Area. There wasn’t any tonkotsu broth, the popular pork broth found at a few shops here. But Tenkaippin is known for its kotteri broth, which is a chicken broth that’s as rich as the tonkotsu broth.

The broth was rich with body and taste, and the ramen did hit the spot. Maybe because we were slightly hungry. The chashu wasn’t anything amazing (not super tender), but I liked the variety in the bowls we got in our group, some topped with bean sprouts and some including the Chinese won tons. Even though this is franchise, I felt like it could have been a neighborhood ramen spot locals came to for years to satisfy their late-night munchies.

Rating: 2.5 out of 4 camera snaps



Tenkaippin Ramen, 617 Kapahulu Ave., Honolulu. PH: 808.732.1211. Open daily. No reservations, cash only.

Tenkaippin Ramen on Urbanspoon

Counter seating at Tenkaippin in Honolulu

The house specialty with kotteri broth that was milky and rich

The chili-garlic sauce (right) came with a cute little spoon

Another bowl of ramen my brother ordered that was topped with bean sprouts

6 Responses to One Last Bowl of Ramen for 2011

  1. hungry dog says:

    I’ve been dreaming of ramen recently…and now you’ve fueled my desire! Happy new year, Ben! I look forward to more of your fantastic photographs and wonderful posts in 2012.

    • Ben Ben says:

      Thanks HD, happy new year to you too! Yeah, new year ramen sounds good but no Japanese stores will be open today. They really take new year’s seriously.

  2. I haven’t eaten there before, and I don’t believe I’ve had kotteri ramen before either. Must be rectified! :-d

    I have so many pics of places we’ve gone to and eaten at this past year that I haven’t blogged about! I even have stuff from a trip to Ipoh back in 2010. So behind. Hopefully I will be able to get to them this year (yeah, right).

    • Ben Ben says:

      Nate, I wonder if they have a franchise near you? If not, I bet you’d have an easy time finding it in Japan.

      Yeah, the problem with old pics (for me at least) is that I also forget how the food tasted! 😛

  3. Carolyn Jung says:

    That is hilarious about your Mom needing more food after eating at the small plates joint. My older brother once said the same thing. He couldn’t fathom the popularity of tapas-like places because he always felt hungry no matter how many plates he ordered. Maybe it’s an Asian-appetite thang. LOL

    • Ben Ben says:

      Carolyn, I bet it must have something to do with eating all that rice all the time. Makes the body expect something filling. 😉