By far the most popular ramen shop in town, I figured I would head to Lucky Belly for a late night bowl before leaving Hawaii. An informal poll over at the Ramen Adventures Facebook page reveals that this is the one to try.
Located at the end of Honolulu's hipster road, in Chinatown, the shop is beautiful. Dramatic lighting (hence the poor quality of my photos), exposed brick, and beautiful paintings all come together. Definitely a winner in the first impression category.
Quality craft beer and a respectable sake list. So far, this place is looking pretty sweet!
And then the ramen. The belly bowl, named after the shop I suppose, seemed the way to go.
Right off the bat, strike one. The ramen is served in a comically large novelty bowl. Bowls are important for slurping. Many of the best shops in Japan that are striving for gourmet status will painstakingly choose the perfect geometry in their bowls. This affects the smell, how fast the soup cools, even the ability to sip the soup directly from the bowl.
Lucky Belly's bowls were too big to even fit in frame for a photo.
Strike two. The soup was near flavorless. The lack of flavor, and the mass of wakame seaweed means that this one ends up as a seaweed flavored tea. And, yes, that is a wiener in the ramen. I wanted to roll it in some dough and serve it at a children's birthday party.
Strike three. The noodles were a poor match, and soggy to boot. More like saimin noodles. Serve the locals what they are used to?
To put a cap on the evening, I was accosted by the pair of tweakers loitering outside the shop. One of them was, I kid you not, lighting the rubber of his shoe on fire and then stomping it out. Over and over. The other was staring at me with some crazy eyes. I knew taking my customary post-dining shop photo might be a problem, and I wasn't mistaken. One shot taken, I sped away on my bicycle while he screamed at me for violating his right to privacy. Past the craft whiskey bar. Past the organic pizza and imported beer place. Past the artisanal cupcake shop. Never to return.
Official Site Here.
50 N. Hotel St., Honolulu, HI 96817
Open 11:00-14:00, 17:00-24:00
Some kind of "window" is open until 2:30am