Food La La: Kai Ramen opens in Honolulu

Oct. 16, 2013 | 0 Comments

With my friend Avy Chan

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.

Head Chef, Tadashi Yamada (middle) 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.

tantan

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.

tantan1

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.

miso

(Courtesy Avy Chan)

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!

chicken

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.

don

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.

curry

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!

Kai Ramen is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
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Lindsey Muraoka blogs about food and drink for the Pulse. Contact her on Twitter or via email at foodlalablog@gmail.com.

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