Showing posts with label restaurants. Show all posts
Showing posts with label restaurants. Show all posts

Monday, September 3, 2012

Ramenquest Hawaii: Gomatei vs. Yottekoya

Even after leaving Japan--the land of ramen--I continue with my "Ramenquest" journey to find the best ramen.  While Hawaii may not have as many ramen options as Japan, there are a number of restaurants that offer pretty authentic Japanese-style ramen, and even some chains straight from Japan.

In today's Ramenquest-Hawaii edition, I'll be checking out one of my all-time favorites (Gomatei) as well as another restaurant highly recommended by one of my friends (Yotteko-ya).  

Both Gomatei and Yotteko-Ya have pretty high ratings (4 stars) on Yelp, so I decided to see for myself which ramen cuisine I thought reigned supreme!!

Ward Center
1200 Ala Moana Blvd

HonoluluHI 96814
Ph# (808) 591-9188

In my opinion, when it comes to ramen, it's hard to beat Gomatei.  This restaurant has never ever ever disappointed.  The tantan ramen has a rich goma sesame flavor and the thick slices of charsiu are still some of the best I've ever eaten--even compared to all the ramen I consumed in Japan.  4 stars worthy?  I'd say the rating should be closer to a 5.

Let's see how the competitor held up:

1960 Kapiolani Blvd #214
HonoluluHI 96826
(808) 946-2900

Yotteko-Ya, tucked away in the corner of the second floor of McCully Shopping Center, serves Kyoto style ramen.  The workers there all spoke Japanese, and it almost felt like I had never left Japan!  But how did it compare to the ramen I had eaten in Japan?

They are known for their paitan ramen, noodles served in a rich broth with a milky appearance.  I have a vague memory of going to this restaurant several years ago and remembered that I liked their char siu, so I had to go back to see if it was as tasty as I had remembered.  This time around, I tried the paitan char siu ramen and the garlic fried rice.  The garlic chips in the fried rice were good but left a pungent taste in my mouth (not recommended as a date food lol), the char siu wasn't as heavenly as I had remembered, and the broth was good but not mind-blowingly-I-wanna-keep-drinking-even-after-all-the-noodles-are-gone kind of delicious.  4 stars worthy?  Sorry, it wasn't bad but I was underwhelmed...I'd give it more like a 3 star rating. 

We all have our personal preferences, but I will forever remain a fan of Gomatei.  Will a worthy ramen challenger ever be able to reign supreme over my favorite ramen restaurant?  Someday, perhaps--I always keep an open mind when it comes to potential delicious food.  But until that day comes, may the Ramenquest continue.  

P.S. -- to any Hawaii foodies out there, if you are reading this and think there's a better ramen out there than my ramen standard Gomatei, leave a comment and let me know!  I'd love to try out a new place :)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Lucky (in my) Belly!

OK.  It's been about a month since I moved back home, and I know I've been slacking on this blog...sorry!  Well I've been slacking in my posting, but of course I have not been slacking on my eating!  Now that I'm a little more settled into my life back home, I am going to put more effort into making more regular posts :)

A couple weeks ago, I went to a place called Lucky Belly located in Chinatown for lunch.  

Pork belly is one of my favorite fatty foods, so I was looking forward to what they had to offer.  And indeed their pork belly made my belly very happy :D Their pork was delicious, and so was their other Asian influenced dishes.  While their menu was very limited--a short list of a few appetizers, salads, ramen bowls, and a small selection of entrees--it made it easy to choose what food we wanted to sample.

To start off, we tried their beet salad with goat cheese, pork belly bao, and shrimp gyoza.  

The beet salad was beets layered with goat cheese, and for those of you who don't fancy goat cheese...don't worry!  My mom who is not a fan of goat cheese absolutely loved the salad!  

The pork belly was soft and melted in your mouth, and was a great combination with the soft bao bread, hoisin sauce, and cilantro.  

And the shrimp gyoza had much more to offer than just shrimp.  It was stuffed with a lot of other vegetables, including asparagus!

For entrees, we went with the Lucky Bowl, the Belly Bowl, and the Kuchujang Braised Brisket Tartine.

The Lucky Bowl and Belly Bowl are ramen dishes, and the only difference is that the  Belly bowl has all the wonderful meaty additions: sausage, char siu, and smoked bacon.  The noodles and broth were okay, but the star of the dish was the smoked bacon.  It added so much flavor to the ramen, and was quite unlike any of the ramen I've tasted before.

I thought the  Kuchujang Braised Brisket Tartine was going to be a hot sandwich, but it turns out that it was more like a bunch of meat with two tiny pieces of bread.  It was so delicious and tender, and way too much for one person to finish, but take it home and eat it the next day on top of some rice and maybe an overeasy egg on top?  Yes, please!

So if you want to give your belly some love, feed it some grub from Lucky Belly!

Lucky Belly
50 N Hotel St
HonoluluHI 96817
Ph# (808)531-1888

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

All You Can Eat "Viking"

Here in Japan, buffets are called "baikingu" after the Vikings, I suppose.  Three years ago was the first time I heard a Japanese person tell me, "We're going to a baikingu in the park" and I got confused when they took me to a restaurant.  Although a bike through a park is nice, an all-you-can-eat is even better (if it's good, that is).

There are quite a number of buffets here, but most that I've been to are not the best quality.  I end up stuffing my face with sub-par quality food within the 1.5hr time limit just to get my money's worth, which never makes for a good ending haha.  But, this weekend I went to a buffet that pretty much knocked my socks off.  Good quality, decent price, nice view, no time limit, so I got to relax, eat, talk, eat, eat,eat...OMG I'll be back next month when they change up their menu!

Restaurant RiccoMonte
Ph# 076-441-0109
Located on the 15th floor of Toyama Excel Hotel Tokyu, next to CIC Building near Toyama Station

Team Baikingu!

The view of the mountains

My first plate

Roast beef sushi, Pork belly stir fry, Chicken with chocolate sauce,
Pork with Pineapple, Hamburger with demi-glase sauce,
Steamed fish "stuffed cabbage", gratin, Chinese-style boiled pork, kim chee yaki soba

We could also order the daily pasta, made fresh to order
(but sadly, you can only order one plate of this)

Wasabi Steak.  This was SO GOOD, really tender and flavorful
Also made to order/not on the buffet line, but limited to one order per person :(

Omu-rice with beef stew sauce. 
Instead of an omelette bar, they had an omu-rice bar!
Made to order, and no limitations on the amt you ate :)

Crepes with Grand Marnier orange glaze and vanilla ice cream.
Also made fresh at your request!
Dessert!  Strawberry mousse, banana tart, fruit jelly,

We were the first ones there at 11:30am, and the second to the last to leave at 2:30pm.  The price?  1800 yen.  I'LL BE BACK.

P.S. Reservations highly recommended :P

Saturday, March 10, 2012

ilubgrub MERCHANDISE...and Arigatou Ramen!

First, a quick announcement:
ilubgrub MERCHANDISE is now available at my new ONLINE STORE!

A couple of weeks ago, I started doodling pictures of in love.  Basically, those classic combinations that you always find together: salt&pepper, ketchup&mustard, etc.  I was just doing it for fun, but some people were saying they could see my doodles being on t-shirts and stuff, and that I should start my own brand.  So I thought, why not try to sell some stuff online to raise money for charity?  I already had set up an online charity registry that I posted on my charity page "Share the Grub" and thought that selling my designs would be a cool way to raise money for charity.
100% of profits will go towards the World Food Program Charity. 
So check it out, and share with the world how much you lub grub with ILUBGRUB apparel and merchandise!  Thanks for your support :)

And now, Ramenquest time!

Today, I checked out a place called ARIGATOU RAMEN (literally, Thank you! Ramen haha) in Takaoka.  It was a decent place, nothing special but nothing I can complain about really.  The broth was flavorful, but nothing to brag about...the char siu was tasty but on the thin side...but overall, I enjoyed my lunch today.  Picture time!

Char-siu miso vegetable ramen

Chahan (Fried rice)

All gone!
Oh yeah, and I forgot...after that I headed to a small hole-in-the-wall cafe afterwards.  I got dessert and my friend got coffee..."Vienna Coffee" (I only learned what that was today).  The parfait I got looked pretty, but the ice cream tasted...slightly freezer burnt.  But I'm still alive, so I guess it was fine.

"Vienna Coffee" (espresso infused with whipped cream)

freezer-burnt parfait
ARIGATOU for reading! <3

Thursday, March 8, 2012

New Layout! And Toyama Curry Battle

I know I recently changed the layout only about a month or so ago, but I revamped my page again...let me know what you think.

Anyway, back to food.

Tonight, I ate at Santoshi, an Indian restaurant located within walking distance of Toyama Station.  For the past year and a half, people have been recommending this restaurant to me, but I only had the chance to try it now.  The question was: could it top Aladdin, my gold-standard Indian restaurant? (Check out my full Aladdin post here). It's funny, I eat more Indian food in Japan than I've ever eaten in my whole life, but that's definitely a good thing :)

I ordered a Ladies' Set which included naan or rice (I opted for naan), salad, any curry of your choice(I got mutton saag), tandoori chicken, and a soft drink (I got mango lassi).  All for 1400 yen.

Everything was delicious, and in my opinion, a higher quality and more refined and sophisticated taste than the food at Aladdin.  However, I still think Aladdin wins in my book.  Why?  Let's compare.

1.  Price

Although I think the Ladies' Set at Santoshi is cheaper than the set I get at Aladdin, in general the prices at Santoshi is higher.  I'm lucky I'm a lady, but for the guys out prepared to pay more at Santoshi.

2.  Size
More bang for your buck.  At Aladdin, you get much more curry, bigger piece of tandoori chicken, AND dessert.

Oh wait, best part...THEY HAVE UNLIMITED NAAN.

3.  Variety
I can choose exactly what type of naan I want (yay cheese naan!) AND I can get rice, whereas at Santoshi, I can only get naan or rice. I love naan, but I always feel a little empty inside if I don't have rice with my curry.

4.  Atmosphere
The Santoshi waiters were helpful and attentive at filling my water glass, but they were not the most friendly people.

The staff at Aladdin on the other hand is super friendly and really accommodating!  They often give us free drinks, etc. and it's a more fun and lively feel.  Bollywood movies playing in the background are also a plus!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Ramenquest Episode 4: Ramen Shinta (Fukuno)

On the way home from the mountains, my host family wanted to stop somewhere to eat ramen.  I suggested a place that I had been to before, but unfortunately didn't get to enjoy it very much because I had to leave the restaurant so I could make my train so I kinda had to scarf down my ramen in 5 minutes lol. 

This store is located pretty much right next to Fukuno Station in Nanto (On the Johana line).  It must be a pretty popular place because both times I had been there, we had to wait in line to get seated.  I think it's also a pretty famous place because they were selling their own instant noodles in the store.

Click here for just a map and address if you're interested in checking it out.  Or, if you want more details, click here and you'll find more info such as phone number, hours, etc. (it's a Japanese foodblog site, kinda like Yelp that I've found useful despite being all in Japanese).

Anyway, I'm really glad I got to come back here and actually eat my food instead of swallowing chunks of char siu whole.  The char siu here is really good, they use the belly part of the pork so it's really fatty, and they also torch the outside so it's a little charred.  I wouldn't say it's the best char siu I've eaten, but it's definitely worth your money.

So here's what I ordered: Shio Goma Ramen and a side order of a char siu bowl.  The soup was OMG DELICIOUS.  If you like sesame, this is for you.  They used a sesame paste for the broth base, so it was a thick, flavorful broth.  Normally I don't like drinking all that sodiumy soup broth, but I pretty much finished my broth this time.  And like I said earlier, the char siu was good.  I think I ate way too much cus I ate lunch at around 1pm but I was so full even later that night that I couldn't even eat dinner.

char siu bowl (pork BELLY in mah BELLY)

Shio Goma Ramen (can't see much in this pic) but it was tasty tasty tasty

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ramenquest Episode 3: Tsubaki Ramen (Tonami)

Decided to check out a ramen place in Tonami called Tsubaki.  Tonami is a couple of train stops away from where I work in Toide.  Last Friday after work, Kai, Xue, and I ventured out in the cold to find this place...we got there and realized nobody really knew how to get there lol.  Luckily some of the ALT's in Tonami knew how to get there, so we joined them and enjoyed some amazing char siu.

Aburi Char Siu Miso Ramen

The highlight of this ramen: the char siu.  Glad I got the char siu ramen cus they gave lots, as you can tell from the pic.  Probably one of the best char siu of the Toyama ramen I've eaten.
Noodles, meh.
Broth, solid but nothing to wow me.

Where to next?  (Maybe let's wait til this snow dies down a bit...)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Home, Day 14 (1/5/12)

A final farewell: the last day before leaving, I had to go out with a bang.  A light snack in Chinatown, Lunch @ Honolulu Burger Co. and Dinner @ Pineapple Room

There was a lot I didn't get to eat
and some I didn't get to greet
but I wouldn't call it a defeat--
it was a holiday that was sweeeeeeeeet.
(and in 7 more months, once again we can meet!)

Baked Manapua

Char Siu Su (basically a char siu pie)

Pastele Lumpia Burger

Loco Moco Burger:
Hamburger, Spam, Bacon, Gravy, AND Egg

Mocha Latte Burger:
Burger with Kona Coffee Spice Rub, Mole Sauce, and Avocado

Sweet Potato Fries

Kalua Pig Caesar Salad

Onion Foccacia with Aioli

Hot n Sour Soup

Bacon Crusted Kampachi

Chinese Style Steamed Ono
halo halo!! (goodbye goodbye)

Home, Day 13 (1/4/12)

It was a day of Japanese food: sushi @ Kuru Kuru Sushi with the fam and ramen @ Gomatei (probably still one of my favorite ramens even after eating lots of ramen in Japan) with a mini-iolani reunion.  But a not-so-Japanese dessert @ Menchies ...this is my mix :)

can't find spicy ahi sushi in japan!

char siu tan tan = ichiban

not fish eggs...lychee and passion juicy balls!

Home, Day 12 (1/3/12)

Mini and Massive: The cutest, tiniest almond cookies ever.  And huge portions @ Da Kitchen with some of the WU crew.


Deep fried Spam Musubi

Katsu Moco:
Loco moco on top fried rice with chicken katsu for good measure

We split it

and that was a wise decision (we still had leftovers)

Andrew's "Da Big Bruddah"

Loco for Loco Moco