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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

  • May 27, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    eh bruddah pomai, i def liked the 3rd pic with the 2 very kawaii ladies…hehehe!!!! of course all your pics are awesome–man with all this ramen…i sure as heck want some…there’s a place here along downtown berkeley that does a respectable ramen/fried rice/gyoza combo…methinks i’ll get that for dinner tomorrow :)

  • May 28, 2010 at 3:26 am

    It’s funny sometimes to go through this blog, and see a banner below that says “1. Trick of a tiny belly”. One helpful trick: no eat all kine saimin. But good luck in that happening (LOL). Anyway, looks good, makes me want to have some saimin right now at 6:26am.

  • May 28, 2010 at 3:34 am

    Just heard about oxtail ramen from our family in Hawaii. Gotta try next time we’re back home.
    Sadly, no place here in Ohio serves it. Sounds SO good.

  • May 28, 2010 at 6:19 am

    My friends and I saw it and found it too steep the price and that how it is in shopping around. I guess Sumo Ramen and Curry still come out a better deal. Fried rice and ramen with gyoza for over 17.00 while Sumo you could get two of the combo for that price. It the location I gather for the cost also

  • May 28, 2010 at 6:23 am

    QuarryLaneFarms, are there ANY decent Japanese ramen shops in Ohio?

    John Book, the Google banner ads on here are indeed entertaining sometimes; especially considering the keywords they’re generated from. “Oxtail”? Sure, “Trick of a tiny belly” should fix that. LOL!

    Nate, next time I’ll get the Oxtail Ramen with the Shoyu broth option, which should garner an even better score.

    Raph’, regarding the kawaii (cute) ladies, why is it I’m not surprised to hear you mention that? lol

    Not in Torrance, but in Berkeley, there’s this place called “Ramen California“, where other than the “Californian”, the menu actually looks promising! lol

    Judy, Ramen Nakamura’s regular ramen and gyoza set for $10.90 ain’t bad. I really don’t think the fried rice is necessary, as I never ever finish it. Too much starch!

  • May 28, 2010 at 7:03 am

    Nah, I went there some time ago and did not like it very much. Like lot of people go for places that offer great prices and deals. In past Libby Manapua had great deal in their dim sum now it still not bad but that great. I perfer to head to that place in your last entry for been there and like it very much and able to take home leftover to eat later.

  • May 28, 2010 at 7:27 am

    Pomai, been there before and feel not as warm as local style ramen places. It lack some sort of friendly feeling to the customers and food does not turn me on at all. I rather head to Sumo Ramen for it more local style for local people. They know how to serve food , amount and prices tha customers like very much.

  • May 28, 2010 at 7:49 am

    Well even with new look to the place it have no charm in it. Maybe it me but felt cold and distant from worker. Unlike other ramen shops I been too. Food is so so to me and prices too.

  • May 28, 2010 at 8:04 am

    Pomai, my sisters and parents went there and must been a off day for that little woman there. After reading other bloggers it not my parents or sisters who felt that way but other also. Now my family won’t go back there again. It now Sumo Ramen and Curry and like other blogger more for local people.

  • May 28, 2010 at 8:19 am

    Pomai, I check and readed Yelp on other people who went there so it was not me that was treated that way. Maybe it the Japanese in her or whatever. Never felt so much coldness in a business I been to before. Never going back no matter how great the food may be.

  • May 28, 2010 at 8:50 am

    If you want a more beefy flavors oxtail broth and if you haven’t try Mililani Golf Course Restaurant one. Their Oxtail Saimin is pretty good.

  • May 28, 2010 at 8:51 am

    I not going back to this place again. Even food is not so special to me to spend my money there. They do not also accept credit card or chek card and I never like to carry lot cash on me for that reason too. Readed last entry and will try that one and it seem deal is not bad at all. Some owner care only for the money not the customers.

  • May 28, 2010 at 9:40 am

    Pomai, convenient is one and most important in business. They accept only cash and most people rather not carry that much on them these days for check cash and credit cards is the way to go. I had friends that went there in past and did not find service great at all so will not go there again. You can get good food in lot of places and great services too but not at Nakamuras Ramen.

  • May 28, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Pomai, are playing the bloggers readers? In last entry of Sumo Ramen and Curry you were looking for Sumo size ramen and other foods. This entry you wrote one bowl of ramen and just three gyoza you were full. The bowl size at Sumo seem almost the same size as Nakamuras Ramen but prices are tourists price and so location. Cash is reason many will head else where to eat. Service is one reason I will not go there at all .

  • May 28, 2010 at 11:34 am

    Pomai, this is not the best ramen to me but I am Chinese so don’t take my word for it. What I didn’t like is rude service they got there and cash only which I never like to carry lot of cash around with me. I think Sumo is better for me and my friends for they accept cards and never had bad service from them also. Wonder if Nakamura knew you and gave you great service for that reason but not sure.

  • May 28, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    Pomai, any restaurants near tourists spots bond to be higher in prices. I rather dine in neighborhood eaterys. My brother went to Ramen Nakamura not long ago and really did not like the service and food that much. Sorry but everybody taste different. He did not know cash only so his friends have pay his share of the bill which later brother got money from ATM to pay back that another reason why not into that place at all now.

  • May 28, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Pomai, Another blog entry that hits it out of the park! Wow – I feel like I am inside a “Ramen – YOU ARE THERE” TV show – or maybe watching it in 3D. Listen I am in Bay Area, near Berkeley, and I’ve not heard about Ramen California. Do you know where it is located? Thank you again for your beautiful pics, mouth-watering prose, and great humor. I love reading your blog.

  • May 28, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Three dollars for 3 gyozas that is so high for just dumplings at a dollar a dumpling. This place is a tourist trap for the high price for sure. Even their ramen is pretty high price. This place is just for tourists not for local customers. After seeing prices you made Sumo Ramen and Curry seem like the best place ever for cheap eat.

  • May 28, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    pomai…hahaha you know me….food is good, but the ‘scenery’ should be good too :D arigatoo for the post & pics :D

  • May 28, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    Wow, what have we got started here?! Looks like I opened up a can of worms! Or more like a BARREL of worms! lol Not much love going on here for Ramen Nakamura, that’s for sure.

    Funny thing is, on both my visits recently, that “lady” was very nice to me! Must be my charm and handsome, good looks. lol j/k. But seriously, I asked her questions about various things on the menu, and she very graciously and patiently answered them for me, albeit in broken Engrish. Service was speedy as well, with my ramen arriving in front of me within 10 minutes of being placed, while my water glass was kept topped.

    Raph’, mahalo for helping out fellow readers with the California ramen-ya recommendations. I’ll read over the Yelp review of those places later.

    Vicki, cheap is good if the food’s good, but if the food isn’t, than it’s not worth it, no matter what the price. Not that Sumo wasn’t good– it was OK — but I’d rather spend a few bucks more for better tasting ramen than that. As for Ramen Nakamura being a tourist trap, I’d say more specifically a “Nihongin Trap”, as every time I’ve been there, 90% or more of the clientele has been Nihongin tourists. Which I really don’t understand. Why eat food you can get at home when you’re in a foreign land? Eat as the Romans do!

    Kimba, based on the trend of reader comments here, I’m not sure if this one was hit out of the park, or called as a foul ball. lol Anyhow, mahalo for the kind compliments! :-)

    Tina, Amy, Sally, Aaron and Jessie, true, the funny thing is, while don’t accept debit or credit cards and only accept cash, I hear they also accept Yen! Go figure.

    Sally, if you meant to ask if I’m “playing games with my readers”, of course not! I think you misunderstood me. I wrote “As for the name ‘Sumo Ramen’, I was surprised they didn’t have a “Sumo-sized” option for those with a “sumo-sized” appetite.” Notice I said “THOSE”, referring to others, not myself.  Honestly, I could never compete in any eating competition, as I can fill-up quite fast, especially if starch is involved. Rice especially fills me up quickly, which is why I avoid that at elaborate buffets. Gotta’ save room for the good stuff! So no, no games here. I’m a straight-shooter here, thank you very much.

    Lance, funny you mention Oxtail Saimin, as I was just talking with Diner E about doing a “Saiminathon” to follow up on this here “Ramenathon”. With that, I want to try the Oxtail Saimin at Violet’s Grill, which Metromix heralded as THE BEST SAIMIN ON OAHU. Them’s fightin’ words! lol

    Patty, Kelike, Kimo and Richard, that “lady” was very, very nice to me on both recent visits. I guess my timing was good. My handsome good looks helps too. lol j/k

  • May 29, 2010 at 7:01 am

    Pomai, my family said NO still to Ramen Nakamura for it left a bad after taste to my family for a long time. She only nice to certain people and that Japanese Tourists. There some workers or busineses like that. This business make other look ever better now.

  • May 29, 2010 at 8:57 am

    Pomai Brah, I know you were trying to be funny by writing maybe it was your good looks that got you good service. No matter the customers who did not will feel this ramen restaurant cannot be nice only to certain people. They must be nice to all and that fair.

    They rather pick Japanese people and tourists to service nice to than other races well fine take business and money else well to spend. They are not American thinking.

  • May 29, 2010 at 9:20 am

    Kelike and Kimo, I totally understand where you’re coming from, as I’ve experienced this prejudice attitude a few times myself, but thankfully they’ve been isolated and not happened frequently enough for me to carry a chip on my shoulder.

    Waikiki businesses need to realize that when tourism counts go down, it’s the LOCALS who they’re going to rely on more to keep them afloat. The hotel industry certainly realizes it, as you see and hear many TV and radio commercials now trying to attract us with Kama’aina discounts. Even Maui’s Grand Wailea is seeking out the locals, a resort known to be frequented by the rich and famous. Putting up a local family for $150 a night is better than $0 per night and a vacant room.


  • December 3, 2012 at 11:28 pm


    • December 4, 2012 at 1:09 am


      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.

  • August 4, 2013 at 6:54 pm


    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).

    • August 4, 2013 at 11:28 pm


      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:

      • August 5, 2013 at 8:23 am


        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.


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