Monday, October 14, 2019

Noodle Club in Hawaii, USA

Noodle Club

Noodle Club on the north side of the Big Island serves ramen and Japanese snacks, as well as the dreaded saimin. I know this is ramen adventures, but I wouldn't really call this a ramen shop. It's a noodle shop opened by Chef Edwin Goto, a local who just wanted to make tasty food with local ingredients. Hence the above photo of bone marrow on a bowl of pho.

I spy more teriyaki sauce. And bao. Despite my dislike for the concept of a sides-heavy ramen shop, I never let it distract me. Actually, I love to crush a bowl and then kick it with some gyoza and drinks. Ramen first, snacks after.

Won ton min.

Noodles from Sun Noodle, the revolutionary, practically monopoly of a noodle company in America and soon Europe. The soup is made with local beef and pork, simmered for a long time. Mushrooms add some decent umami to the broth. A simple bowl on the surface only.

Much of the shop's ingredients are local, with Waimea having plenty of farms and ranches. Local oxtail was on the menu at the time, as were a few other beef options.

Another shop full of strange art on the wall and a collection of antique toys scattered about.

Official site here.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Nori's Saimin and Snacks in Hilo, Hawaii, USA

Nori's Saimin and Snacks

I took a quick trip to visit my father in Hilo, Hawaii and thought I would hit the noodle scene. Maybe I can find something closer to ramen than saimin. I didn't enjoy saimin when I had it before and wasn't about to try and convince myself otherwise.

Saimin is tough to define, mostly because restaurants just kind of do what they want. Saimin noodles are all flour, but the saimin menu at Nori's includes your choice of saimin noodles, thin egg noodles called Hilo-style ramen, curly egg noodles (ramen), buckwheat soba, and udon. I went with the Hilo-style. Saimin tends to be soft and soggy to me. Maybe the so-called ramen would be more to my liking.

Along with noodles, the shop serves an aray of Japanese-Hawaiian dishes. Noodle burger sliders? Does Keizo know about this?

There are many other dishes, making this a proper restaurant.

The ramen has Chinese-style roast pork and some shreds of a fried egg to make it a questionable bowl. A light, fishy broth with a bit of soy sauce giving some salty flavors. It came with a side of spicy mustard. I don't know if that was meant for the ramen or the side of chicken.

Noodles that weren't mushy. Sure, they weren't as firm as I tend to like, but I'll take it!

Fun, friendly place. My order of ramen came with a side of yakitori, and all the other customers were going all-in with rice dishes, dozens of sides, and extra-large soft drinks. Hawaiians love to eat.

In general, Japanese-style yakitori in America seems to be covered in sweet tare, called teriyaki sauce. I'm not a fan.

I read (in America) that teriyaki was created in Hawaii by Japanese immigrants who mixed pineapple juice with soy sauce to make an original glaze for meats. I also read (in Japan) that teriyaki was created by the burger chain MOS Burger in the 70s. Either way, I find it too sweet as the main seasoning of meats, though I'll eat a teriyaki burger with sliced pineapple any day.

I like the kitschy nature of the place, with retro sticker machines, toys, and framed newspaper accolades all really bring the place together. Many people get a chocolate mochi cake to go, or maybe some of their mustard cabbage koko, a kind of kimchi.

Official site here.

Monday, October 7, 2019

欽山 (Kinzan in Takamatsu, Kagawa)

らぁめん 欽山製麺所

Kagawa is known for udon, not ramen. But all the good udon shops open at seven in the morning and close not long after. So for some late evening noodles, ramen is where it's at.

Kinzan is a highly ranked spot. To be more specific, it is the highest-ranked shop in the area, with accolades including a spot on west Japan's 100 best list on Tabelog.

Toripaitan hit with a lot of soy sauce. Thick noodles. That shiny layer of chicken oil on top. This is a rough bowl for the late-night crowd. Perfect stuff. Takamatsu has a host of bars in their downtown area, as well as many more elegant restaurants. Shikoku isn't known for this sort of thing, so if your idea of travel involves buying a new Louis Vuitton bag, don't go much further than Takamatsu. With new LCC flights servicing their airport from Tokyo and abroad, it isn't hard to make it down.

Back to the ramen, which I loved. The only other choice in the area is Sanuki Rock, a shop that is a bit more on the refined side of things.

More awards and my guess is they will be given a 2019 one as well.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

猪骨ラーメン (Shishikotsu Wild Boar Ramen in Ehime)


Did I tell you about the time I tried to get my hunting license in Japan? I began the first steps of gun ownership in a country mostly devoid of firearms, with the hopes of bagging a wild boar. The local police station convinced me to abandon my pursuit, lest they make my life very difficult. I abandoned my pursuit. Tokyo doesn't really need any 12-gauge shotguns.

Hunting in the countryside of Japan, though, is a welcome activity. Wild boar bring havoc to local farms, and a hunter is loved by the community. Here in the islands between Ehime and Hiroshima Prefectures, that hunter runs a ramen shop.

Inoshishi (猪) in Japanese.

Inoshishi has a reputation for being gamey. Special care is given when making this heavy soup to avoid the funk while bringing out the meat. Sure, the earthy flavors are still there, but if they weren't there wouldn't be a point.

It's a one-man show. Hunter, owner, chef. It's a really special bowl, though I won't lie, the location isn't so easy to get to without your own car and intimate knowledge of the western areas of Japan.

Located in the serious middle of nowhere, a place that is full of beauty. This is also along the famous Shimanamikaido cycling route, a 70km road between Imabari and Onomichi.

Random bonus, the chef here studied how to make ramen at the Osaka Ramen School, a school I've worked with for many years. The hunter sent the school frozen boar bones to help develop a recipe. How cool is that?

Official site here.