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Ramen Nakamura’s Oxtail Ramen & Shoyu Ramen 2010



The “ramenathon” continues, this time at Ramen Nakamura to try their “famous” Oxtail Ramen.

Ramen Nakamura’s prime Waikiki location on the main drag at the corner of Kalakaua and Beachwalk had recently closed for renovations for several months earlier this year, reopening on May 2nd with a fresh and new, contemporary asian-inspired decor. This, in what appears to be a proactive effort to stay competitive with other newer ramen shops around town such as Kiwami Ramen and Goma Tei, who both sport a modern, chic look.

That said, here’s how Ramen Nakamura looked before their makeover…

See, it’s so drab and old looking, that one of the patrons had fallen asleep at the counter. lol

Well not anymore, as here’s how it looks “after”…

Aaaahhhh….ooooooohhhh…aaaaahhhhh. Sugoi!

The lighting, solid surface countertops, along with the wood and black tones of the furniture, cabinets and trim work all come together, creating an inviting, and rather elegant ambiance. These centrally-serviced, communal wrap-around counter designs are not only efficient for the server, but also an inviting social experience for guests, as I often end up having fun conversations with neighboring patrons about ramen, as I have with these two Nihongin fellahz on this visit..

As for the menu, it hasn’t changed much, except for a few items going up just a little in price, but nothing drastic. Of course being in Waikiki, you’re going to pay a slightly higher price across the board anyways to help cover the exorbitant rents. Let’s check the menu out…

There on that last page you see they list their ‘Specialty Oxtail Soup’ in various combination sets. With that, I chose the Oxtail combo set with small fried rice and 3-piece Gyoza…


Ramen Nakamura – Oxtail Combo (small fried rice and 3-piece gyoza). $17.20

Wow, that’s quite a spread. Quite a price tag as well. Then again, we are talking oxtails here, which even for the soup version is often priced on the high side.

Let’s have a closer look…

There’s an option to order the Oxtail Ramen with Shoyu broth, but I wanted to taste it how they normally serve it, so I ordered it with the default Shio (salt) broth, which appears a bit lighter in color.

To my  delight, they brought the requisite bowl of finely grated ginger and shoyu to accompany the oxtails in my ramen…

Here’s the Gyoza…

And the Fried Rice…

OK, let’s observe the ramen for a moment to show appreciation and absorb its spirit. Now let’s try the broth and noodles…

As expected, the Shio broth was fairly tame in comparison to the more bold and deep shoyu style. They add some chili oil in it which indeed spices it up some, being especially noticeable where it clings to the oxtails. Really though, what I psychologically had programmed in my mind was that it would taste like traditional local style Oxtail Soup that just so happens to have noodles in it. I was hoping it would have that same beefy, star anise-laced flavor profile, but there was none of that.It turns it being exactly as advertised: Oxtail Ramen, with not many left curves thrown at you, save for the oxtails themselves.

Let’s try get to the main attraction, the Oxtails…

I must say, the fairly generous portion of meaty oxtails (there were two big ones and two small ones in the bowl) were cooked just as tender and succulent as the best Oxtail Soups I’ve had, which of course would be The Alley Restaurant, Asahi Grill (Kapiolani Coffee Shop) and Pho Bistro 2.

The super-tender meat and melting cartilage all pulled very easily off the intricate tail bone center.

While the Shio broth didn’t factor in that much in the Oxtails’ flavor, the oxtail meat themselves had plenty to offer on their own terms, especially when getting a dip in the requisite grated ginger and shoyu sauce. I swear, if sodium weren’t an issue, I’d dip just about EVERYTHING I eat in grated ginger and shoyu!

Which now that I think about it, is there such a thing as a Ginger-Shoyu Ramen? I’ve never seen or noticed it. Have you? Perhaps some time soon I’ll get back in the kitchen laboratory and do some experimenting! I must say, “Ginger-Shoyu Ramen” sure sounds promising!

Other toppings in in the bowl include bok choy, spinach, menma, and fried garlic; the latter of which I find a bit bitter, naturally being that it’s fried. I also don’t think garlic matches in ramen. Thankfully Ramen Nakumura includes Menma, which I really think ramen just isn’t complete without it. The bok choy and spinach worked for me, although the bok choy in particular did sort of “Chinafy” it.

Summing up Ramen Nakamura’s Oxtail Ramen, it was much better than I expected actually, as I was initially skeptical of Oxtails — or any beef for that matter — working in Japanese style Ramen. Yet it somehow pulled through. Although I’d also have to say it’s like having two separate dishes; essentially a pretty good bowl of Shio Ramen that just so happens to  have really excellent, succulent, tender, and beefy Oxtails in it. They both didn’t unify to create one great Oxtail Ramen, but each doing their supporting rolls, made for altogether a very good oxtail-meets-ramen Ramen.

The score? 3 SPAM Musubi. As you’ll soon read, if I had opted for the Shoyu broth in my Oxtail Ramen, this could have easily been a 4 or possibly a 5!

Moving along, let’s try their Fried Rice…

Eh, it’s OK. The tart contrast of the Beni Shoga (Umeboshi-pickled ginger) definitely made it taste much better than if it had been without it.I’ll give a 2.

Now the Gyoza…

Very good. No complaints. Arrived piping hot, cooked perfectly al dente with a good sear on the bottom, and  a generous amount of the typical Gyoza filling of ground pork, cabbage and green onion in it. 3 SPAM Musubi.

Still in “ramenathon” mode, I returned back to Ramen Nakamura just a few evenings later to refresh my palate on their Shoyu Ramen…


Ramen Nakamura – Shoyu Ramen. $8.70

I’m not sure if they have a new chef or what, but this time around the Shoyu Ramen was excellent! Much better than the last time I blogged this place, when I thought it was only ‘average’.

This time around the Shoyu broth had that complexity and depth I so desire.

The Sun Noodle Factory-sourced noodles were generous in portion and cooked pefectly al dente in the firmer Japanese style that I also prefer.

And of course that all-important component that not only adds a texture contrast, but flavor as well, the Menma (marinaded bamboo shoots)…

As for the Chashu, it was a bit too lean for me, yet I  must say, it still had a good amount of flavor thanks to the shoyu, mirin and sake braising liquid I’m assuming they use.

Here you see how thin they’re sliced…

I like to wrap my chashu in noodles like this…

If that’s rude according to Japanese table etiquette, gomenasai.. but I’m Gaijin, so daijobu desu nei? Nei? lol

Summing it up, this bowl of Shoyu Ramen was so delicious, I polished the bowl…

Ah, shokuji oishikatsu ta desu! With that, Ramen Nakamura’s Shoyu Ramen class of 2010 gets awarded 4 SPAM Musubi!

Going back to my Oxtail Ramen visit, those two Nihongin fellahz ordered these bowls of ramen…


Ramen Nakamura – Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen


Ramen Nakamura – Miso Vegetable Ramen

Ramen Nakamura
2141 Kalakaua Avenue Suite 1
Honolulu, Hawaiii  96815
Tel. 922-7960

The Tasty Island rating (For Oxtail Ramen and Shoyu Ramen 2010):

(4) Excellent. Worth another visit or purchase. (Winnahz!)

Related Links:
Waikiki Eats: Ramen Nakamura – The Tasty Island
Ramen Nakamura – Ono Kine Grindz
Ramen Nakamura – Yelp user reviews

31 thoughts on “Ramen Nakamura’s Oxtail Ramen & Shoyu Ramen 2010

  • December 3, 2012 at 11:28 pm
    Permalink

    8月ハワイに行き中村ラーメン食べました,店の人たちも感じが良く特に店長は星五つでした、味はまいゅで自分には最高の思い出でしたまた行きたいな今度行く日まで、待つときんさい,サイナラr

    Reply
    • December 4, 2012 at 1:09 am
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      gabutyan,

      Using Google Translator, you said,”The manager was a five star feeling particularly well, his taste in ~Yude Mai go now until the day I want to go back there again was the best memories I ate Ramen Nakamura went to Hawaii in August, some people shop, Kinsai, Sainara r and wait.”

      I must say, since they renovated the place, the recipe for the broth improved along with that. They’re always busy, which is expected considering their prime Kalakaua avenue location right on the main drag. Not to mention HORDES of Nihongin tourists now in Waikiki. Crazy! Many of the hotels are now at 100% occupancy.

      Reply
  • August 4, 2013 at 6:54 pm
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    Pomai,

    We had a very good experience at Nakamura earlier in the year, though the ox-tails were not fall-off-the-bone tender like your experience. We had to work at it a little. And, yeah, that shoga and shoyu-ponzu dipping sauce is the killer! Same as you, I ordered the shio ramen since that seems to be their standard even if miso would have been my preference. Overall, I would give Nakamura a high score. I didn’t know that all the ramen noodles on the island were sourced from a single place (Sun).

    Reply
    • August 4, 2013 at 11:28 pm
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      zoomeboshi,

      GREAT Seattle food blog you’ve got! Which reminds me I need to update my LINKS page, and will most certainly add you to the list!

      Yes, Sun Noodle Factory makes the noodles for most (not all) ramen shops on Oahu to each restaurant’s exact specifications. They also make pasta for Italian restaurants (I believe Assagio is one of them), which is kind of interesting.

      Where would you say has the best authentic Japanese Ramen in Seattle? Right now as it stands, I’m going right here with Ramen Nakamura as Oahu’s best ramen. Ooh, them be fightin’ words! :shock:

      Reply
      • August 5, 2013 at 8:23 am
        Permalink

        Gomai,

        Thanks for the promo.

        Yep, your endorsement of Nakamura will definitely raise red flags, but ramen is such a personal thing, especially where there are many purveyors, like in Honolulu. We all benefit in the end.

        The ramen scene here in Seattle is spotty. Oahu’s is much better, as is the LA area. A good friend of mine would also say that Vancouver, BC, has a more vibrant ramen culture than here. Many around here swear by Samurai Noodle in the International District (Asian commercial area), which specializes in tonkotsu, but my last experience there told me that this is not a serious ramenya. Up the street is Fu Lin, which while run by a Chinese chef, has better ramen than most places, certainly better than Samurai, even if there are some Chinese flavors in the chashu (maybe I better use char siu instead :-D ). The chef spent 10 years in Japan before moving here. The noodles and broth are excellent.

        But the latest addition is the recently opened Kukai Ramen & Izakaya on the Eastside, which is a popular chain in Japan, that serves very good ramen, including great tsukemen, though the prices are rather steep and the lines long to get seated.

        Reply

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