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Yataimura Eats: Ganso Ramen

Continuing my conquest (sorry to bore you) for the “ultimate” Japanese Ramen to hit Hawaii’s shores, presenting Ganso Ramen.

No, not as in Ted Nugent’s “Ganzo” rock anthem, nor “Ganzo” of The Muppet Show fame, but Ganso Ramen, with an ‘S’. Whom the owner said is in the style of “Hokkaido-meets-Tokyo-meets-San Francisco”. Those are her words. Hmmm, sounds interesting.

As you see in the first photo, Gonso Ramen is here in Honolulu at Shirokiya’s always incredible Yataimura Food Court for a limited engagement from February 20 to March 4, 2014.

Let’s check out their very simple menu…

Here’s the Ganso Gyoza…

Another Gyoza set…

Ganso Miso Ramen…

And getting right to it, you know me: Shoyu Ramen, baby…

Zoom in…

You know the ritual, as it’s again the time to reflect on the true meaning of Japanese Ramen and how it intertwines with life, according to Chef Maezumi …

A bowl of Ramen is a self-contained universe. With life from the sea, the mountains and the earth. All existing in perfect harmony. Harmony is essential. What holds it all together is the broth. The broth gives life to the ramen. Understand? So with that in mind, observe the ramen. Observe the ramen.” – Chef Maezumi, from the film ‘Ramen Girl starring Britanny Murphy and Toshiyuki Nishida

Hai, wakarisu.

Itakimasu, sho. First let’s sample the broth…

And? Very bold, in-your-face, “meaty” flavor profile, and to be honest a bit on the salty side. But again, that’s just me, as I’m finding my tolerance for salt much more sensitive lately. Likely my body’s own survival instinct to keep my blood pressure at bay. It tastes complex, however it’s missing “something”, which I think is a seafood element such as shellfish (scallops perhaps) and/or konbu (kelp).

At this early point, I’m like “hmmm, what to do next?”

Let’s hit the (Sun Noodle Co. made) Ramen noodles…

Higher… higher!…

Oh yeah baby, that’s more like it. A little more to the right. No, no, no, don’t take ’em off, leave ’em on. Leave ’em on. And? Winner. Sun’s noodles are always a winner with its distinctive taste and texture characteristics from the Kansui.

Next let’s sample the pork belly chashu…

And? Like “buttah” tender and flavor-packed from the belly fat. 4 SPAM Musubi on their Chashu. Win-nerz!

Finally let’s try the Choy Sum (Choy Sum in Japanese Ramen?) and Ajitsuke Tamago (seasoned boiled egg)…

Meh. The “Ajitsuke Tamago tasted like a plain ‘ole boiled egg, and overcooked at that, as the yolk should have some “run” to it. Plus it was barely simmered/seasoned in soy. The Choy Sum was plain as well, not having any distinctive treatment to it. Plus there was Bean Sprouts in the ramen, which to me is like the ultimate ramen “Sin”, if you will. Adding to the seven “deadliest” list, they didn’t include Menma. The nerve! To hell you be damned, you Shoyu Ramen, you! Wow, I was really upset for that one split second. lol

This Ajitsuke Tamago is more like it!…

Ajitsuke Tamago (seasoned boiled egg for Japanese ramen). photo courtesy of mongastronomy.com

Down to just broth left in the bowl…

I didn’t get this far because I was totally diggin’ it, but because I was absolutely STARVING, as I barely ate anything for two days prior to this (still stressing over work).

Not to say this was a bad bowl of Ramen, as it was actually quite enjoyable, just not up to the par that I expect of authentic Japanese Shoyu Ramen. The broth was tasty, but too bold and salty. The noodles perfect. Same for the pork belly Chashu. Only to be set back by the addition of Choy Sum and Bean Sprouts (China-fying) the ramen, plus the absence of Menma; oxymoron not intended.

Still, I “polished” the bowl…

Ah, onaka ga ippai, yo. Oi.

The owner got rather excited about me taking so many photos of my ramen, that she kindly invited me into the kitchen to get some photos behind the scenes. Here’s the Ganso Ramen broth pot…

What you can’t see is the whole pig’s head and other “body parts” submerged in the broth like a Stygian Witches brew. “Give me the eye, I want the eye!” Nah, just kidding. lol

She also had several pots of previously simmered ramen broth in pots that were congealed in the walk-in refrigerator…

Now THIS is how you cook ramen noodles for the masses….

I swear, I so need to get one (or several) of these specialized ramen noodle baskets…

This way, you have total control on cooking time for each portioned-out serving of ramen noodles.

Summing it up, I give Gonso Ramen’s Shoyu Ramen 1 SPAM (average), however I’m adding another Musubi (2 SPAM Musubi total points) because the owner was so nice to me. Seems my “Most uninteresting man in the world” gray beard is working wonders with the ladies. lol (for reals though!)

Now to do more window shopping (play Xbox One and surf the web for free on the latest computers >> Mac Pro) at the Apple and Microsoft store downstairs on the mall level. ;-)

P.S. Speaking of gray beard, here I am with Lehua Kalima (of Na Leo Pilimehana fame) celebrating her birthday last night at Mai Tai Bar in Ala Moana Center, along with her nephew Kala’e (He’s over 6 ft.)…

Not the party “peeps” in back “photo bombing” on us, eh? lol Kala’e Camarillo and his brother Kamaka won the Tom Moffatt band championship title a few years ago when they were still in high school (Kamehameha Maui campus). Kala’e now performs every Tuesday evening at the Chart House next to the Ala Wai Boat Harbor in Waikiki. Lehua’s sister Cora owns a thriving flower shop in Kihei Maui.  If you ever need flowers when on the valley isle, check out Cora’s in Kihei. Tell her Pomai from Honolulu sent you.

While we’re on celebrities, here I am today (2.25.14) with Taylor Wily, a.k.a. “Kamekona” of Hawaii Five-0 fame at his new Shrimp Truck in front of Hilo Hattie on Nimitz Highway…

Braddah Taylor “Kamekona” recently opened ‘Big T’s’ Shrimp Truck, parked in front of Hilo Hattie on Nimitz Highway. And no, it’s not part of the Hawaii Five-0 show (at all), but a real operating lunch truck business owned by Taylor (operated by staff, not him), along with his business partner and childhood friend, Les. Both supah cool braddahz.

Mahalos braddah “Big T”, Les and Chef Wil’ for da’ onolicious Shrimp Scampi plate! Buggah’ was SUPAH ono! I’ll blog ‘Big T’s’ Shrimp Truck in the next post.

11 thoughts on “Yataimura Eats: Ganso Ramen

  • February 25, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    I’m enjoying these ramen posts since we don’t have much variety here on Maui. When I was living in the Bay Area, we hit a bunch of the local ramen shops.

    Question: since it seems a majority of these ramen shops are using Sun Noodle noodles, do they seem to be the same noodles for all of the shops? I know sometimes shops get their noodles made to their own specifications.

  • February 25, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    Mahalo for the new dreamy pictas .. : 0 0

  • February 25, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    @ Kapua – what “dreamy pictas” are you referring to? I actually thought the photos in this post were just OK. Yataimura Food Court’s lighting gives off a yellowish hew (mainly from the paint on the wall and halogen bulbs), so color balance can be a challenge, even for my Canon S100, plus post-process.

    @ David – I’m still skeptical about Japanese Ramen shops from the mainland (as is the case with Gonso). They tinker too much with it. Authentic Japanese Ramen is purely regimented.

    As for your question about Sun Noodle cornering the Ramen-Ya market on Oahu, they do indeed make the noodles to each shop’s specifications. How different they are from each other seems quite minimal from my experience at all the different shops I’ve tried, except for of course the extrusion size and shape. Otherwise, the Kansui is the key.

  • February 26, 2014 at 2:01 am

    Pomai, I ramen with corn and butter is for me but I take soy sauce one too. You so great with the beard like one of my former prof. in college.

  • February 26, 2014 at 5:58 am

    Pomai, when you mentioned whole pig head, the first thing that popped in my head was the scene from Tampopo where Tampopo faints when she sees one. Must have been good, you left nothing…did you do the BIG “ahhhhh” when you finished. I really enjoyed this post…BTW, just how old is Lehua….she still looks great as ever.

  • February 26, 2014 at 7:44 am

    @ Dean-San – I really should slap myself for having not seen Tampopo yet. Ack! I did indeed finish the ramen with a vocally satisfying “Ahhhhhh”. Natural reaction whenever eating a decent bowl of Japanese Ramen! This, as opposed to after you finish whacking a double patty, double eggs, mac and gravy all ovah Loco Moco, where you’re like “Uggggghhhhhhhh. Zzzzzzz. Zzzzzz. Zzzzzz. LOL!

    Lehua looks GREAT! And that’s her “Tita” look. You should see her in person all “dolled-up”. OMG, total BABE! And her sister Cora who has a few years on her look ever so beautiful as well. Them Kalima girls have great genes.

    @ Kelike – Corn and butter is typical of Hokkaido style ramen. Must be the cold weather way up there in Northern Japan, where they want more “comfort” in the ramen.

    I’m bummed right now. still drowsy from waking up, I had my electric razor depth on the wrong settting this morning and accidentally shaved off one side of my beard, so I ended up having to shave the rest of it to that level (pretty trim). That’s alright, it’ll take just a few days to get back to the length I had it. TMI. ;-P

  • February 26, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    In today’s Honolulu Star Advertiser Nadine Kam gave Agu A Ramen, 925 Isenberg St. Bistro a 4-star all across the board. She indicates chef makes traditional tonkotsu broth and Jidori chicken broth from scratch (about 18 hours cooking) and features two styles of ramen. Jidori ramen uses thicker chewy Tokyo style yellow chijure noodles and tonkotsu ramen uses Hakata style noodles.

  • February 26, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    It’s the dreamy hair…..haha…you could do a blog on your hair alone!

    • February 26, 2014 at 9:19 pm

      @ Kapua – Is there a 2-month, all expenses paid Vegas vacation prize package this site is giving away that I don’t know about? ;-P

      @ Ken-San – Thanks for the highly detailed info on Nadine’s article (which I have yet to read). Only thing, Isenberg is so “far” from where I live. I prefer my Ramen-Ya sources within walking distance. An important aspect of a personal favorite Ramen-Ya is the convenience factor. Ya’ know? That said, Japanese Ramen Kai is my spot now!

  • February 27, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    No but I am in real estate and selling some swampland in the Everglades;)

  • February 28, 2014 at 1:24 am

    Pomai there ramen entries going on. Nadine Kam Agu A Ramen now Melissa Chang Nonstop Honolulu with Tsurumen new place in Kapahulu. Now I will try check it out there too.


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