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Yataimura Eats: Menya Shokudo Ramen

How was your black Friday weekend? I avoided the crowds at Ala Moana Center like the plague, until the rainy weather yesterday finally got to me, so I headed there for the last day “swan song” appearance of Menya Shokudo Ramen.

This being in Shirokiya’s always awesome Yataimura Food Court on Ala Moana Center’s third level. THIRD LEVEL. As you know, Yataimura brings in a new vendor from Japan every month, and this past November it was Menya Shokudo Ramen from the Kanagawa prefecture.

Without further ado, let’s check out Menya Shokudo’s ramen photo menu (Dean-San’s fave!).

 

The chef’s recommended Shoyu Ajitama Ramen sounds good, so that’s what I chose.

Before we sit down and try that, here’s Menyu Shokudo’s Spicy Ramen, hot off the press.

See here, they have a “legit” ramen spoon. Take note of that.

Yet another Spicy Ramen bowl…

I honestly don’t get why you folks like spicy ramen. With my only presumption being you feel think there’s added “kick” from that addition. Personally, I think it’s just wrong. Kinda like putting Tobasco® Sauce on spaghetti or pizza. But whatever. Hey, knock yourselves out!

A whole bunch of chashu.

Speaking of which, since it was their final day, they were trying to sell everything, including the toppings ala carte. Just add Sun Noodle Nama Ramen, and you’d be set!

And here’s my Kanagawa style Shoyu Ajitama Ramen, hot off the press.

They didn’t cut the Ajitama egg in half, like how its depicted on the menu, but that’s OK, as long as it’s done properly.

I take a moment and reflect, breathing in the aroma of the hot, fragrant ramen broth. Do I still believe in Santa Claus? How about Christmas? Yeah, I suppose so. After I eat, should I go downstairs to the mall level and window shop? Nah, that’s not a good idea. Why God, why?!

Now remember that “legit” ramen spoon shown earlier? Well then they give me this.

WTH?! Common’ guys, you serve the ramen in a heavy-duty ceramic bowl, then take away all that glory by providing a flimsy disposable plastic spoon? Auwe! That’s like giving someone a beautiful dress as christmas gift placed in a wrinkled and used plastic disposable grocery bag. lol

Well let’s hope the broth makes up for that.

And? The broth is certainly complex and deep, while being VERY “porky”, where you can tell they simmered them bones somethin’ fierce for what seemed like must have been WEEKS, not just days. I mean, it’s very DEEP and rich tasting. I think a bit too much, and also bit on the salty side, tasting like they added a few too many extra dashes of shoyu in the pot. Well that’s just me, as my tolerance for salt has been much more sensitive lately. While this was their Shoyu Ramen, it also tasted like it had some cross-hybrid flavors from their spicy ramen, as there was a noticeable “zest” about it, if you will. Which you can kinda’ see speckles of “something” floating on it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good Shoyu Ramen broth, but a little over the top in my opinion.

Sugi wa, let’s hit the noodles.

Great texture, being on the firm side of “al denteness”, however they didn’t quite have that “eggy” flavor profile from the Kansui that I look for in authentic Japanese Ramen. In fact, they almost came across tasting like Italian Pasta. Well OK, not THAT off, but you get my drift.

Let’s sample the menma (marinated bamboo shoots).

Dang, this is the most intensely marinated menma I’ve tasted yet. I think a bit too much, considering how intense and salty the broth already is. I mean, it’s delicious in and of itself, but with the shoyu ramen broth in this particular bowl, just a bit harsh on the tongue when combined. Oishii though! If they sold their menma in jars or vacuum packs, I’d buy some!

Next up, the Ajitama, which is a flavored egg, slow-simmered in shoyu, dashi, sake (sometimes) and other aromatics.

Oishii! The yolk was cooked done more than I prefer, yet thankfully it still had some “gooeyness” to it in the center.

Finally, let’s sample the chashu.

Kinda stringy and dry, yet the flavor profile is on point. It needs more fat though. Way too lean. At least the ones I got. I’m going to assume because I got there on the last day of their appearance at Shirokiya, this was leftover chashu from previous days batches, not fresh-made.

So what’s my overall opinion of Menya Shokudo’s Shoyu Ajitama Ramen?

Wait, let me try that broth one more time after everything else has been eaten.

I’m gonna’ have to minus half a SPAM Musubi for the plastic spoon. Sorry, there’s just no excuse for that. Otherwise, overall for the sum of its parts, I give Menya Shokudo’s Shoyu Ajitama Ramen 2 SPAM Musubi. The broth, menma and chashu were certainly tasty, albeit the chashu being a bit on the dry side and overall a bit salty, yet that’s better than bland I suppose. The noodles were cooked just right, while the Ajitama was particularly excellent. My score also reflects a deduction on the green onion garnish, which I feel TRUE authentic Japenese Ramen should only use the white parts of the larger Japanese Negi, slivered super thin. Not green onion chopped course how it’s done here.

Hey, 2 SPAM Musubi is considered “Good”, and I definitely left with a content tummy, “polishing” the bowl clean.

Looking forward to what Japanese specialty eatery Shirokiya’s Yataimura Food Court has in store for December!

Related Tasty Island links:
Yataimura Eats: Shinsen Ramen
Yataimura Eats: Gifu Takayama Ramen

P.S. Shirokiya’s Yataimura Food Court & Beer Garden was pretty packed on rainy Black Friday Sunday (is that how say that?)…

If you haven’t been to Yataimura lately, they’ve recently added a dedicated beer tap counter to serve the many thirsty patrons who take advantage of their happy hour beer specials…

6 thoughts on “Yataimura Eats: Menya Shokudo Ramen

  • December 3, 2013 at 1:33 pm
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    I rather enjoyed the ramen from Menya Shokudo. My experience was different from yours though. I tried both the spicy and shoyu ajitama ramen and the shoyu was by far the better of the two. My noodles were slightly overdone though. The chashu was melt in the mouth goodness and the ajitama was not as hard boiled as yours appeared to be, with a firm, but still translucent yolk. The broth had a deep smoky katsuo flavor which I loved, but it was a little grainy with those floating “speckles” as you said. I went right in the middle of the promotion period so maybe that’s why my experience was better than yours. Oh, and I had a normal plastic ramen spoon, unlike yours. Guess they ran out by the time you got there. By the way, my uncle, who went on Black Friday had a similar experience to yours although his chashu was tender. I guess I had better make a note to avoid going at the tail end of the promotion.

    Reply
    • December 3, 2013 at 3:43 pm
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      K I,

      I suppose reviewing any eatery on their last day isn’t entirely fair, especially if I’m nitpicking the “side issues” such as serving utensils. Not only that, the point is pretty much moot to talk about a place others won’t even be able to visit! lol

      Anyhow, think the chashu pieces he chose for my bowl were simply too lean and also probably end cuts, so it was more on the overcooked side. Perhaps Chashu pieces were from more in the center of the cut.

      That’s the word I was looking for about the broth: it was “grainy”, both in texture and taste. Also, I think that deep smoky katsuo flavor is what made it a bit “harsh” for me. Was it just me, or did you also find the shoyu broth and the menma a bit heavily seasoned/salty? I mean, not like I was running for the water fountain, but enough to notice. Also, how “spicy” was the spicy broth? It sure looked like it could be a “scorcher”.

      I’m going to Shirokiya tonight to check what’s new in that spot, and if it looks good, order something for a review. Will keep you posted.

      Reply
      • December 3, 2013 at 3:55 pm
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        The spicy wasn’t very spicy at all, it just muddled the taste. The menma was heavily seasoned, but the broth I found to be only slightly tastier than I like it so overall I enjoyed the bowl more than other shoyu ramen that have come and gone from Shirokiya. I think I would say that there were only a couple bowls of shoyu ramen that I tried at Shirokiya that were more enjoyable than this bowl.

        By the way, I tried Ramen Kai, next to Ailana Shave Ice across from Ala Moana Shopping Center and while I can recommend their miso ramen, their shoyu ramen wasn’t anything special. Similarly, at Santouka, my parents visited and the shoyu ramen wasn’t anything special but they really enjoyed the shio ramen. Have yet to try Agu or Kiwami, but hopefully soon.

        Reply
        • December 4, 2013 at 5:55 am
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          K I,

          “Muddled taste” is exactly why I don’t care for spicy food in general. My tongue gets “shocked” and my taste buds lose its full ability to discern what I’m eating.

          Regarding Hokkaido Santouka, I shop at DQ almost daily and always get tempted to walk in there, but held off while they get their kinks out. Now I see there’s over 100 Yelp reviews averaging 4 stars, so they must have their system down now. Santouka’s Shio does sound like the one to go for. I tried Kiwami when they were in the basement of the Waikiki Shopping Plaza. They specialize in Tsukemen, where the broth is served separately. Which is OK, but I still prefer my ramen served with everything in the bowl.

          Reply
          • December 4, 2013 at 8:19 am
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            I like tsukemen and Kiwami does a pretty good job of it (at least what I remember from when they were in Waikiki). Pretty much the only game in town for tsukemen since the closing of Taishoken all those years ago. Always nice to have diversity when it comes to ramen. Seems the vast majority of new shops are all tonkotsu based broths following the current trend on the mainland U.S. I’m still waiting for a great Tokyo style shoyu ramen place to open. Have you seen this? http://www.nonstophonolulu.com/eating/our-top-5-ramen/ I like this list as it highlights different types of ramen, plus I agree with his choices.

  • December 13, 2013 at 5:57 am
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    K I,

    The vendor at Shirokiya for the first half of December 2013 is a returnee, being Nagoya Jiraiya, featuring their Ebi Ten (Shrimp Tenpura) Musubi.

    Nagoya Jiraiya Ebi Ten Musubi

    Looks like it’s time for me to sample some Hokkaido Santouka Shio Ramen at K-DQ.

    Reply

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