Ramen Hunt part 1: Goma Tei

Char Siu Tan Tan Ramen

I love ramen.  The first time I had it in Japan I fell in love and that love has only continued to grow.  Luckily, Hawaii is one of the best places in the states and outside of Japan to get this simple, yet surprisingly complex, dish.

A friend of mine in Japan once said, as he was approaching his college graduation, that he was either going to become an Air Traffic Controller or start up a ramen shop.  Lovers of ramen truly love ramen and they accept nothing but the finest.

The Ramen Hunt is my search for the best ramen in Hawaii.  I’m not going to lie, I have not found a single bowl of ramen in Hawaii that even comes close to it’s authentic Japanese counterpart.  That being said, they is still some really great places here and I still have hope that I’ll find something that can compare to the true thing.  So without further adieu… 

In our first episode of our hunt for the best ramen in Hawaii we head on over to Goma Tei.  Located in the Ward Centre next to Borders, Goma Tei has been around for about three years now.  Specializing in Tan Tan, spicy sesame flavored, Ramen it has carved out a strong following in it’s short time here.  Some of you may know Goma Ichi, across the street from Wal-Mart on Ke’eaumoku, which also specializes in Tan Tan Ramen.  Both have very similar tastes and would rate similar reviews from me but I personally prefer Goma Tei.

Men (Noodle)

Goma Tei’s men is average in thickness, leaning slightly to the futoi (fat) side.  Has plenty of flavor and a good texture.  It won’t win any awards for being amazing, it’s just a good, slightly above average men.

Shoyu Ramen

Soup

The soup is arguably the most important part of ramen, if it’s not good then the ramen is no good.  A shoyu (soy sauce) base soup is mainly used here, though they also have Tonkotsu ramen.   The shoyu by itself is pretty light and doesn’t have much depth to the flavor.  If you’re looking for something on the simple side you might enjoy it, otherwise don’t bother.  The Tan Tan soup is also shoyu based but it takes on a new life with the addition of the spicy sesame seed flavoring.  It’s more oily and, combined with the lightness of the shoyu base, has a very good balance.  It’s not too spicy, which depending on your tastes may be a good or bad thing.  I found it to be just right.

Char Siu (Roast Pork)

The char siu here is easily the best I’ve had in Hawaii so far.  Thick sliced with a good balance of fat and meat and so tender that it falls from your chopsticks and melts in your mouth.  No complaints.

Conclusion

Goma Tei is one of my favorite ramen restaurants in Hawaii and as such I highly recommend it.  It’s not going to change your life or anything (there are ramen restaurants that will do that) but it’s definitely worth checking out.  Give the Tan Tan Ramen a try but don’t expect too much from the other flavors.  On a side note, if you’re planning on getting gyoza be forewarned that it invariablely takes forever to come out and is overpriced and entirely average.

Tan Tan Ramen

B-

(light)   1   2   3  3.5  4   5   (heavy)

(thin)   1   2   3   4   5   (thick)

Shoyu Ramen

D

(light)   1   2   3   4   5   (heavy)

(thin)   1   2   3   4   5   (thick)

Goma Tei

*note on grading scale*

I choose to assign a letter grade due to the ambiguity that is inherent in a numerical/star system.  An “A” rating is given for the best of the best, “B” for really good, “C” for average, “D” for not very good, and “F” for complete garbage.  I am admittedly harsh in my reviews and as always they are based upon my own personal opinions.  “Light” and “heavy” refer to how rich the soup is, “thin” and “thick” to the type of men (noodles).

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