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Sumo Ramen's Char Siu Ramen

Several weeks ago I was in Kaneohe on a business errand, where I spotted Sumo Ramen in Kaneohe Bay Shopping Center (my childhood stomping grounds!), so I decided to give them a try.

As usual, I chose the Shoyu Ramen, opting for the Char Siu version (notice ‘Char’ and ‘Siu’ are phonetically separated), which puts more slices of pork in the Shoyu Ramen bowl.

Before we get to the grindz, first let’s check the joint out…

Now the menu…

Notice they have a number of locations, which actually made me more skeptical than confident walking in, as authenticity and consistency often suffer. Yet I discovered the Kaneohe location is the original, so that was encouraging.

So as mentioned earlier, I chose the Char Siu Ramen, which uses the same broth as their Shoyu Ramen, getting it as a combo set that includes Gyoza and Fried Rice…

I must say, at $8.50 for this combo set, that’s a great value for all this food.

Let’s go in for a closer look…

OK, let’s do this. First I observe it. Observe. Breath in its essence. Its life. Its spirit. Its “tamashii”. Now to taste the broth….

Eh, like the Shoyu-based broth from Taiyo Ramen, Sumo Ramen’s take on it is just OK, but nothing really to write home or here about. Actually, Taiyo’s was better, with a bit more depth and character. This one tasted bland in comparison. Tamashii ga nai.

Now let’s try the noodles…

A little overcooked and softer than the more firm Japanese style I prefer. Like Taiyo, Sumo also sources their noodles from Sun Noodle Factory.

Now let’s try the Char Siu…

Eh. Just “eh”. Like the broth, the Char Siu’s  kinda’ bland as well. It’s also a little too lean-tasting, lacking some of the fattiness that makes Japanese ramen taste oh-so-good. Most notably it tasted like it barely had any seasoning on the outside of the slice, as if they had simmered it in plain ‘ole water, and not shoyu, mirin, sake and ginger.

Summing it up, I give Sumo Ramen’s Char Siu Ramen 1 SPAM Musubi (average).

Now let’s try the Gyoza…

Houston, we have a problem. Please return the shuttle to base, as our Gyoza is falling apart…

What the hell? Is there an egg shortage or something? Look at it! I tried picking each up one up with my chopsticks, and the Gyoza’s wonton wrapper separated at the seems, having me make a considerable effort with my chopsticks to hold it together while trying to eat it, lest all the filling fall back on the plate. Taste-wise it was pretty good. But they need to run over to Safeway nextdoor and buy more eggs!

For the disintegrating Gyoza, it’s “DQ’d” of a SPAM Musubi rating. A simple fix of binding the wrapper seam properly and I’d give at least a 2.

Finally, let’s sample the Fried Rice…

Well this is a first. I actually enjoyed the Fried Rice more than the Ramen and Gyoza! Mostly thanks to the inclusion of the Fukujinzuke it was served with, which added a fantastic flavor contrast to the excellent fried rice. For this dish I give them 4 SPAM Musubi. Yay!

Speaking of Fukujinzuke, a popular condiment served with curry in Japan, the curry here seemed more popular by neighboring patrons during my visit than their ramen, as more orders of that were arriving on the tables than bowls of ramen. I was almost envious, thinking I ordered the wrong thing here. The curry smelled and looked really oishiii! I hear it’s a little on the sweet side in typical Japanese fashion, and is similar in flavor to the curry from Coco Ichiban Curry House.

As for the name ‘Sumo Ramen’, I was surprised they didn’t have a “Sumo-sized” option for those with a “sumo-sized” appetite. Or, what would be funny is if they serve the same portion of ramen like I got in a MASSIVE ramen bowl that wows the customers. Da’ kine where you gotta’ grip the bowl tightly with both hands when picking it up. That’d be hilarious!

Anyhow, if or when I return to Sumo Ramen, I’m trying the curry. That looked like the way to go here.

Sumo Ramen
Kaneohe Bay Shopping Center
46-047 Kamehameha Hwy.
Kaneohe, Hawaii  96744

Tel. (808) 234-6868

The Tasty Island rating:

(1) Average.

Related links:
Sumo Ramen & Curry – Yelp user reviews
Sumo Ramen – Yelp user reviews (redundant)

17 thoughts on “Sumo Ramen's Char Siu Ramen

  • May 24, 2010 at 9:39 pm
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    The Mrs and I pass on the ramen and other items and go there primarily for the Seafood Crispy Noodle. BTW, did a FB post on your Tonkrazy Dog and gave you cred for it (made it with the sausage, the “snap” makes a big diference).

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  • May 25, 2010 at 5:55 am
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    Pomai, I sure glad you took photos of menu for it help lot of bloggers in finding out prices and what they have to offer. Notice on the menu Miso Corn Butter Ramen . Now that will my weekend trek there for it. Hokkaido one is with miso soup corn and butter not with all these other stuff in it.

    I been trying to track down a good ramen shop for it and now will check this Sumo Ramen one out.

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  • May 25, 2010 at 6:36 am
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    Pomai Brah, I readed you were having it out in last entry. No try broke the laptop Please! Just head to Kaneohe for some help. By getting a nice hot bowl of Miso, Corn, Butter Ramen. I readed it is just what I am looking for not other place that different. Sometime Ramen Shops make up own recipes but I like to go for more Japan style type ramens.

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  • May 25, 2010 at 7:44 am
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    Pomai, you found a gem of a place for not just ramen but also curry. My family love curry of all kinds. Got get some mochiko chicken, oyster, gyoza, corquette curry rices to take back home for me and family to try out. Guess being a chef I am trying to see in how they make it. Oh yeah with all this Miso, Corn Butter Ramen which I also never had will have there to enjoyed.

    Sound so interesting from other bloggers and learn something new everyday.

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  • May 25, 2010 at 8:00 am
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    Pomai, since I lived in LA saw your blog. have lot really great food out there. It too bad you gave it one musubi but people have see for themselves how they like itl I looked at your menu photoes and found food look so good to get to try (too bad live in LA) but will one day visit Oahu to see cousins and ask them to take me to Sumo for lunch.

    Their curries selections seem pretty interesting for that reason.

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  • May 25, 2010 at 8:18 am
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    Oh Yeah I will head to Kam Shopping Center for it near. All this time never notice it till you blog about it and now like it very much.

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  • May 25, 2010 at 8:25 am
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    Pomai, maybe you should other locations of this Sumo Ramen and Curry. Other might make it better depend on cook that worked there. I would do so also.

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  • May 25, 2010 at 9:29 am
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    Pomai, I feel your one musubi for Kaneohe branch not fair. I would visit other locations to judge it better. I do like Sumo Ramen and Curry very much for it different type of ramen and curries you would not find in other ramen shops.

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  • May 25, 2010 at 9:42 am
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    Pomai, not sure you prefer Tokyo style ramen to Hokkaido style ramen. Tokyo style have soy sauce base soup while Hokkaido is miso base more.

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  • May 25, 2010 at 11:42 am
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    Pomai, you got that much food for 8.50? That is such a deal and big portion also. I am not a big eater but be able to take some home for later to eat again for that price. You did found a good deal at Sumo. My friends and I will head to Kam Shopping Center branch.

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  • May 25, 2010 at 2:29 pm
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    Pomai, With such a good deal of food I will head to Sumo Ramen and Curry. Bring along some friends who are big eaters will a great time for us. I readed from Reid old web he like it very much one on Kapiolani Blvd location which I will try that one.

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  • May 25, 2010 at 2:34 pm
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    Pomai, would that much food at such a good deal I will heading to Sumo Ramen and Curry. Reid old web he wrote is one on Kapiolani Blvd said it very good. I am bringing along some friends who are big eaters and have a great time there.

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  • May 25, 2010 at 6:28 pm
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    Loving your ramen reviews Pomai! Sorry if I’ve missed it but have you been to Gomaichi Ramen on Keeaumoku for their Tan Tan Ramen? I had it on a recent visit back home. Oishii desu nee!

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  • May 26, 2010 at 7:07 am
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    This is first time I blog to you. Been reading you blog for a while and see it so yummy looking at all these food photos. Been going to Sumo Ramen and Curry for while. I like the one on Kapiolani Blvd never a bad order yet there. People go for good deal and that what they offer to customers.

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  • May 26, 2010 at 8:57 am
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    Sumo Ramen’s mochiko chicken curry rice is the best. I definitely agree that their ramen is not their particular strength.

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  • May 26, 2010 at 9:20 pm
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    I just came back from eating at the Market City Shopping Center Sumo Ramen. The vegetable ramen was really, really bland, like eating noodles in plain hot water. My friend’s tonkatsu ramen was the same. We both liberally added in shoyu, gyoza sauce, chili oil, and pepper to no avail. The gyoza wasn’t good and garlicky as I expect good gyoza to be. The only good thing was the fried rice! Very disappointing; I previously had excellent experiences at that location and do not plan on going back.

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  • May 30, 2010 at 8:04 am
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    Molly, “Noodles in plain hot water”? Yikes! Although trying their Shoyu ramen, I’m not surprised. As for the Gyoza, I never ever thought of Gyoza as tasting “garlicky”. Maybe because everytime I eat it, my brain is focused more on the ramen. Dunno’, but I’ll try and make that observation next time!

    Haein, yup, the curry dishes at least looked and smelled WAY better than what my shoyu ramen tasted like.

    Judy, see, as Molly pointed out at the Market City location, now you’re saying the opposite about the Kapiolani blvd. location. Which is why I have a problem with chain restaurants: they often aren’t consistent. This is proving Sumo Ramen is one of those.

    hawaiiangirl, well I’m keepin’ ’em comin’! For some strange reason, I go into this weird “Japanese ramen mode”, where that’s all I feel like eating. That’s how much I love it! I haven’t been to Gomaichi yet, but have been to their “rogue” offspring, Goma Tei, who I hear, ehem, “borrowed” their recipes. Somethin’ like that. Long story. I didn’t care for Goma Tei’s Tan Tan Ramen, but their Shoyu Ramen ROCKS. One of the best I’ve had yet on Oahu. Their Chashu is especially the highlight.

    Gina, as Judy mentioned, sounds like the Kapiolani location is the one to go to. If I go back, it’ll be this location since it’s nearest where I live.

    Patty, hopefully the Kamehameha Shopping Center location will be as good as folks are saying the Kapiolani Blvd. location is.

    Michael, it’s Tokyo style ramen for me; Ginza to be specific. I sure wish I (or my folks) remembered the name of that one shop we went to. I wonder if it’s still there, perhaps run by the next generation? I need to plan a trip back to Tokyo and go on a SERIOUS Tasty Island Japanese food FEAST!

    Brenda, that 1 SPAM Musubi applies only to what I ordered. I’m confident the curry dishes would have turned out much more favorable. Keep in mind, 1 SPAM Musubi is still ‘average’ and not “Horrible! Bleck, cough-cough, bleh.”. lol

    Erica, exactly my point on chain restaurants.

    Kelike, sounds like you live in Kaneohe. Everytime I drive there, I want to move back. On another note, I didn’t know you were a chef.

    Lindy, I’m gonna’ have to go on Yelp and hunt for GOOD ramen shops in California. There’s GOT TO BE some. Gotsda’.

    Kimo, oh, I just lost about 15 minutes worth of typing, replying to comments. Yes, I was, ehem, “steamed”. You folks sure got your sights on that Butter Ramen.

    Michael, I only provide menus if the restaurant doesn’t have a website. The NUMBER ONE thing everyone wants to know about a restaurant over mostly everything else is what’s on the MENU. Most of the comments here wouldn’t have been made, had there not been a menu to refer to.

    Ryan, I’ll hit your site in a bit and check it out. Sorry, it’s been a very busy week and I barely had time to do much, let alone fit in blog entries.

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