Mixed Plate Friday

One of the many gifts Kat gave us! I finally cracked open the Japanese Sriracha, I didn’t even know they had one! And you know we had that shortage for a while so it as hard to even get a hold of a bottle. And then people were saying it doesn’t taste the same anymore? I think they started using different chili peppers, boy oh boy. I was able to get a new bottle and I guess I agree that it tastes a little different but not awful. Sorry, got off-track. So how was the Japanese one? I liked it! Good balance of garlic and heat with a nice sweetness to it. I enjoy it a lot!! Thank you again Kat!

This was a gift from Chan’s friend and I had no idea what it was. I honestly thought it was like a biscuit or senbei. That was until we asked a coworker and was told it was miso soup!! I had to try it immediately and oh my goodness, it was delicious and look!

It is stuffed with all these great veggies and cute fishcake…what a great miso soup! I definitely have to look for this next time I am in Japan!!

Tanto Tonkotsu Black Ramen | $18.00 (includes 5 pieces of Tanto Gyoza)

Don’t have enough for a full post but Tanto Gyoza and Ramen Bar is located in Puck’s Alley in Manoa. They specialize in gyoza (yes, the gyoza is good) and the ramen is good too! But I think I need to try another broth, this one might be too rich for me so I get tummy ache. I think I get tummy ache from plenty foods…hmm…anyway, worth a try!

Chuka Soba Aoba – Ikebukuro, Japan

Located in the Sunshine Mall, Chuka Soba Aoba is just a small little chinese noodles soup that we tried. I actually think this was the first real bowl of ramen we had during the whole trip. It was a nice fill up – nothing too fancy or frou frou. The line was constant and they had a good system of seating. Singles were seated at the bar between the partitions and parties of 2 or more got seated at a table.

Super busy place and actually mostly locals which is a good sign right?

Chan got the tsukemen

I got the regular ramen. I gotta admit, it was the egg in the picture of the mall directory that got me. I just love Japan eggs so much and look at how bright deep orange these yolks are. What I was served looked exactly like the directory photo. Delicious! By the way, this is all they have. Ramen or tsukemen, nothing else. No gyoza, no side dishes, just noodles.

Mixed Plate Friday

Ichiran Ramen Home Kit (5 servings) | ¥2000

You’ve seen this kit sold at Don Quijote. Too rich for my blood, they charge around $30 yeah? I bought a pack home for family members to try and eat. I don’t think I would buy it for myself – I rather have an excuse to go Japan to eat it fresh there!

I made my own soy marinated eggs, the char siu is from Marukai. They have a high quality pack of sliced char siu in their meat section. Was worth it! Family enjoyed the ramen.

Jenny style Cobb Salad

Just made any kine cobb salad at home. Chopped up some romaine, fried up some bacon, baked up some chicken patties, red onions, cucumbers and hand-shredded cheese (again). Served it up with some ranch, I had some leftover ranch from Wingstop (omg the best ranch) and it was divine! Kids love this salad because hello, bacon and chicken patty!

Instant Yakisoba with Soy Marinated Eggs

Bad cheat meal. I did this at least twice in Japan, I love that instant yakisoba cup noodle…and who can resist these eggs from the combini? I took full advantage! You know, I could probably eat the majority of my meals at the combini and be fine with that. I’m not picky. I miss this meal.

2022 Japan – Day 1

Hi everyone! I am back! I am soo happy and relieved to report that I did not get sick once during my trip. Sick as in travel sick. I did incredibly well on the plane rides/train rides/bus rides. It might be a mixture of things but I also tried Bonine this time around and since I did well this trip, I guess Bonine will be the thing I take from here on out.

My flight in and out of Japan was through Hawaiian Airlines. They had a killer deal flying in and out of Narita so we had to snatch it up! It was around $687 round trip? Sounds good to me! We decided to do half the trip in Tokyo and half the trip in Osaka, instead of train-ing it, we decided to take a domestic flight. That was an interesting trip. Maybe I’ll do a side post on it.

For our first night, we threw down our stuff and headed to grab some dinner before resting for the night. I was actually looking for Ippudo and this place was closer so we just went for it. It was okay. We got tripped up by the machine because it was all in Japanese and only a few buttons had pictures lol.

Well first off, the char siu is hard as a rock. They slice it up ice cold and just throw it on top of the ramen. Who wants hard pieces of meat? The egg and noodles were good. The broth was…RICH. All in all, I wouldn’t go back again but was nice to start the trip off with some ramen!

Just another example of how Japan does everything better. This is their Starbucks Reserve. Our hotel was in Ginza so we spent the first day of the trip just staying within Ginza. This Starbucks was super close to our hotel. It was a bit confusing for me, you order downstairs and then go upstairs for seating. My drink was prepared upstairs but the sandwich I asked for was served to me on a tray downstairs. Their English wasn’t great haha.

I got the Winter Cinnamon Latte! I just couldn’t resist. I just noticed I paid ¥940 for a cup of coffee. What is blended? Oops! I just went for it.

Look at how cute the coffee is! The design, the whole cinnamon stick. The drink was lovely. Nice and mild, not bitter and just a nice touch of cinnamon.

Just a deli meat sandwich. Very dry. No mayo at all. It was okay, not great.

My friend’s plate! And look! They have the lemon loaf cake in Japan too! Very different. Very dense – it’s not bad but not great. I wouldn’t get it again, just stick to the one in Hawaii. I don’t wanna clog this post up with too many pictures! More posts to come!

Noods Ramen Bar – Kaimuki, HI

Okay, I tried Noods Ramen Bar back in March so please forgive my memory. Their play on words in their title is funny, a little crass but I don’t mind it. They have shirts that read send noods (haha). We gave this place a try for an early dinner one day, they weren’t that busy but it was definitely a rough start for service. When we were finally serviced, the food came out pretty quick and they were around enough for us not to be mad.

Truffle Shoyu Ramen | $16.00
shoyu based broth, green onion, chashu pork, aji tamago, menma, nori, truffle oil and truffle powder

Not my dish but I remember being told it wasn’t truffle-y enough.

Black Garlic Tonkotsu Ramen | $14.00
pork bone based broth, green onion, chashu pork, aji tamago, menma, nori, sesame seeds, garlic chips, and black garlic oil

I ordered this as level 3 spicy, I wanted extra choy sum or should I say just choy sum in general so I coughed up an extra $1.00. I think the ramen was good, nothing great again. I guess I am just biased with Wagaya huh?

Garlic Fried Rice | $4.00
house made garlic fried rice (vegan)

This was the dish I wanted to try the most. Crazy yeah? But any dish with choke garlic and rice is for me. This did not disappoint. I could just eat this and be satisfied. CAN’T GO WRONG WITH GARLIC AND RICE.

Kamukura Ramen – Honolulu, HI

I was scrolling through Instagram and one of the folks I follow talked about Kamukura Ramen, a new ramen joint that opened up in Ala Moana at the Lanai Food Court. This user is a Japanese chef and mentioned that the fried rice they serve is the closest to the fried rice he has had in Japan ramen shops so you know that got me thinking, wanting, and GETTING it. I came this past weekend at about 11, no long line but definitely had orders already. A good sign was a table next to me had three guys from Japan going for it. I wonder if they liked it.

This blog entry may turn into a…I tried it so you don’t have to because their dishes are kind of pricey. Let’s just say I paid nearly $35 for a ramen combo. It’s hard to feel good about this purchase especially since it is located in a food court, does that sound snobby? I am not used to spending this much for ramen. Well how was it?

Ramen * Gyoza * Drink * Fried Rice Combo | $29.99 + $2.99
white cabbage, pork, roasted pork

Now, this combo is with the most basic ramen they have. If you want to get an upgraded ramen (for example, I wanted the egg – you have to pay the difference). I have to say, all the pictures include nice greens in the bowls but my bowl did not come with chives or green onions and if you wanted to add, you have to pay more. $3.49 to add scallions as a topping? Why I no just go Foodland Farms and buy a bunch and cut it into the ramen myself? Okay sorry for being snippy.

I had to eat this at home and no worries, the integrity was not lost in the dish. They pack the soup separate so I reheated the soup a bit before adding it to the noodles. Here it is in final form. The char siu is very thinly sliced – there is an egg in there!

Here are the noodles, char siu and egg before I added the soup in. The noodles were perfectly cooked. No complaints on that.

The broth before I added it to the noodles. They like their chinese cabbage. I like it too.

Ugh, I thought I got a clear picture of the egg. I didn’t. But you get the idea. It’s perfectly cooked and has the perfect gummy yolk inside, no complaints.

Fried Rice! Okay, I was super excited to try this. It was good, not great. Nothing I would yearn to go back for you know?

Gyoza! To me this was the best part of the meal. They were pretty nicely packed in with filling, tasted like it was made by the restaurant. It comes with a packet of the gyoza dipping sauce. I really enjoyed this!

Final verdict? Well it was good. $35 good? I don’t know. I paid by credit card and of course when they turn the machine around, they ask for tip. I don’t know man, I am doing take out in a food court and I am being charged $35 for this – I wasn’t inclined to tip (sorry!). The upcharges to add just bean sprouts or green onions is crazy to me. I get that costs are high right now but…that high?? It was all good, not great. I feel I can go Wagaya and pay less and get the same if not better food.

Recipe: Ramen Fried Rice

It’s me, and I’m here to share another trending TikTok recipe. Originating from Korea, I’ve seen it made with either raw ramen noodles (uncooked but toasted) or cooked ramen noodles. I chose to use cooked ramen noodles. Was nice to try but would I eat it again…ehhh…I think I am okay. If you ever find yourself wanting to eat double carbs, go for it. It’s pretty easy and of course it’s tasty…!

Ramen Fried Rice

Ingredients:

1 package Shin Ramen, crushed
2 eggs, mixed
2 C cooked rice

Sesame Oil
Toasted Sesame Seeds

Instructions:

Place crushed ramen noodles, dry vegetable packet and seasoning mix into a heat safe bowl. Boil water and add to the bowl (less than you usually would if making it to eat regularly – maybe 1 to 1.5 C of boiling water?).

As the ramen “cooks” in the bowl. Add eggs to pan/wok to make soft scrambled eggs, add cooked rice (preferably cold leftover rice) and cook together, incorporating mixture. Add ramen mixture into pan and mix together well. The ramen mixture would have absorbed the water by now so it is no longer soupy. Fry together until fragrant and a bit toasted. Serve fried rice with a nice drizzle of sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds.

Recipe: Instant Ramen Hacks

Do I even have to preface these posts anymore? Yes, both hacks I am sharing are from TikTok. Both came out fine but nothing I would keep in my arsenal for future use, you know what I’m saying? Let’s goooo!

Hack #1

One Egg, Kewpie Mayo, Minced Garlic

Add the soup seasoning packet

Mix, mix, mix

In the meantime, cook and drain your ramen noodles. Add the hot boiling water to the mixture you just made…mix it as you add water. Add the noodles back in and voila, fake tonkatsu broth? Hahaha, okay so if you needed a way to make your instant ramen more fattening, here it is. Was it worth the extra calories? Edible but nothing special.

Hack #2

This time, you throw away the original seasoning packet (or save for something else), cook the noodles, drain and leave to the side. Then in a saucepan, you heat up butter, brown sugar, shoyu, minced garlic, red pepper flakes…

Add your noodles and mix…

Add an egg. I made three servings so here are three eggs. MIX.

Voila. Done. You can top with some fresh green onions and Everything but the Bagel Seasoning (which I left at work so I couldn’t do this). Well first, I added too much red pepper flakes (thought it said T, not t…so yeah). Was it good? Sure it was good. But I think if I’m going to eat a mixed noodle like this, I rather eat Indomie Mi Goreng (which is one of the best instant noodles ever made).

Gomatei – Ward Village, HI

Gomatei been around long time yeah? I remember when I used to go all the time when they first opened. I believe Ward was their first location and it was SO popular when they first opened and I remember how good it was. I don’t know what happened, maybe my tastes changed but I stopped going there but we decided to give it a try again. I think I haven’t been to Gomatei in like over 5 years. Poor things, they have adjusted to the pandemic by offering takeout ordering but each time they answered the phone, they had to clarify each time that they are the Ward location and not the Ala Moana one. I can see why there is confusion, their street address also has Ala Moana in it! So many phone calls ended with no orders…

Won Ton Shoyu Ramen | $11.75

Served with Japanese style Won Ton (with chopped shrimps and minced pork, marinated for 24 hours in our special soy sauce and essence of dried scallop. Then chopped baby bamboo shoots and shredded wood ears are added for an unique flavor) and vegetable garnishes.

Garlic Tan Tan Ramen | $13.25

Served with Japanese style Char Siu (tender pork belly) and vegetable garnishes. And added garlic bits, blanched in oil for a slightly crispy finish.

This my bowl. I love garlic. Have I told you this? LOVE GARLIC. Now that I’m looking at the price difference between a simple garlic ramen and a won ton ramen…do I think it was worth the extra money? Not really.

There is something lacking in their broth now. I remember how flavorful and deep the flavors of the tan tan ramen used to be. And look, this is coming from a person who no like salty food anymore (bland city for me usually) and it just felt underwhelming. One of the fun things about eating there in the past was finishing up the noodles and slurping up some of that good soup…and finding bits of chung choi that helps flavor the soup. No such luck this time. And the garlic? Barely added any taste! How’s that!

Curry Loco Moco | $12.99

Served with Hokkaido rice, Japanese style hamburger, and an egg.

Funny story, we had a hard time figuring out where to eat. I love a curry loco moco and told my friend that if we didn’t share this dish, our friendship would end. Friendship survived. First funny thing, where’s the hamburger?? Well it’s underneath that egg, lol. It was a good hamburger patty but yeah it was kind of small. Delicious dish! I would order this again for sure.

You know, me staking our friendship on a curry loco moco dish could have saved us some stress. I won’t name the restaurant, but we almost went to another place. Well, we made a reservation for the previous restaurant for this week and I got a call cancelling the reservation due to a possible covid case. ALWAYS THREATEN FRIENDSHIPS OVER FOOD. You’re welcome for the lesson.

Lilikoi | $4.00
Wild Jamacian and Yellow Passion Fruit

Lydgate Farms | $4.00
Locally grown vanilla bean glaze, cacao nibs, cherry drizzle

Hot Single | $4.00
Tolentino Farms neighborhood honey + flakey sea salt

L&L | $4.00
Lemon and lime baby. Meyer lemon sugar, Tahitian lime curd, citrus caviar

Strawberry Fields | $4.00
Kula farms Maui strawberries and green tea

Hot Single | $4.00
Tolentino Farms neighborhood honey + flakey sea salt

If you’re at Ward, you gotta go to Holey Grail Donuts for dessert. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be dessert, just go there and try their donuts. Look, it’s expensive. $4.00 a piece but you’re supporting a small local business…it’s delicious and it’s donuts. Come on. Well I think I have overdone it so I won’t be going for a while now but it doesn’t make these donuts any less good!

My absolute favorite is their Hot Single…the other flavors always sound so intriguing but in the end, I think the Hot Single is the winners. And thankfully, the hot single is a main stay on their menu. I am usually a huge fan of lilikoi but found it a bit lackluster on this donut. The L&L looks pretty and sounds amazing but eh…tastes just alright. I actually preferred the Strawberry Fields donut more though you can hardly taste the green tea (which is fine with me). Hot Single all the way!

Hakata Ikkousha – Osaka, Japan

Ah yes, the Japan posts start…now! First stop? About 5 days in Osaka. I love Osaka. I love Osaka more than Tokyo. The flight to Japan is always longer than the one back home and I didn’t get much sleep on this flight. Then, we had to navigate our way to the train to take us into the the city center of Osaka. The train ride was fine, we got good seats but it was like another nearly 2 hours to get there!

Luckily for us, our hotel in Osaka runs a shuttle bus from Osaka Station to the hotel. We were able to find the Shuttle bus stop okay, actually a few hotels run shuttle buses so that was convenient! What I found amusing was that our bus ran constantly and was full of both hotel and non-hotel patrons, jump on and you get a free ride to the hotel or to Osaka Station. Our hotel was not located in a lively area so the bus was nice to take to Osaka Station to begin our daily journeys.

Anyway, we got to the hotel and checked in. Threw down our bags and then were hungry. We decided to take the hotel bus back to Osaka Station, ha! Hakata Ikkousha is located right in front of our bus stop, we did not want to go searching for another place at this point. We were sold.

The ticket machine to order! There was a bit of instructions but we still managed to muck it up. I didn’t realize you had to put your money in first and then order…so we ordered an extra bowl of ramen by accident. Luckily one of the workers came out and clarified everything and refunded us! Whew!

Red Ajitama Ramen
I don’t remember the name of this

This was my ramen, I saw black oil in the picture of the vending machine and went for it. Figured it was black garlic oil. Was it? I don’t even remember so I can’t tell you. How was the ramen? Good, not great. Hit the spot after long hours of travel.

Gotta always get a shot of the egg. How does this look to you? To me, I prefer the yolk to be softer and creamier so this was a bit overcooked for my taste.

Mentaiko Rice

Hmm, this was okay. Pretty salty but what do you expect with mentaiko??

Gyoza

Gyoza was good. I always love gyoza and the did it just fine! Was I itching to return back to this restaurant? Not really, no repeat visits this trip. We had plenty of repeat trips to Ichiran (let’s not go there, unless I post about it).