Food La La: Kai Ramen opens in Honolulu
BY LINDSEY MURAOKA / Special to the Star-Advertiser
I put myself on a ramen hiatus after so much of it the last few weeks with the opening of Santouka Ramen and the re-opening of Kiwami Ramen (formerly in the Waikiki Trade Center and now on Keeaumoku, yay!). But my hairstylist told me about a new ramen shop opening this week called Kai Ramen, so I just had to check it out (Thanks Hide!).
Located at 1430 Kona St. next to Ailana Shave Ice, Kai Ramen is a small space but serves up a nice selection of ramen with six different types of broth: shoyu, miso, shio, shoyu tan tan, shio tan tan and goma tan tan.
Even though their sign says they are from Hokkaido, they aren’t actually a ramen chain. The owner of Kai Ramen is LEOC, a famous food catering service in Japan for hospitals and schools. They also plan to open a sushi restaurant next month on Kapahulu Ave. called Onodera.
Head Chef Tadashi Yamada, center, and his crew.
I tried the shio tan tan ($9) because I like my ramen to have some spice to it. Kai’s version is not very spicy; there’s just a small kick of heat. The broth is light yet rich and slightly oily.
The noodles are Hokkaido style – yellow in color and thick. The cha shu is excellent, thick and meaty with just the right amount of fat to make it melt softly in your mouth. I regret not ordering extra cha siu to go with it for $1.50 more.
My friend ordered the miso ramen ($9), which I wish I ordered as soon as I had a taste. It has a deep and rich flavor that reminded me of the miso ramen in Hokkaido. I kept stealing spoonfuls of her broth and will have to order it next time.
We also tried some of their side dishes. This is the Yu Rin Chi ($7.50), which tastes like chicken karaage. It’s crispy on the outside but the meat is tender!
This is the mini cha siu don ($4) with the same delicious meat that they use for the ramen. The rice is the Japanese short grain type and is pillow soft.
This is the mini curry rice ($5), which at first I thought they made a mistake and gave us the regular size since it was such a big portion. It also comes with a small salad. It’s your typical Japanese style curry but has a stronger curry flavor.
If you like your ramen to have a rich and oily flavor, you will enjoy this place! But please, no more ramen shops for the rest of the month — I need a break!