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Yataimura Eats: Junpuu Ramen

Chances are many of you folks on Oahu will, at one time or another, be shopping at Ala Moana Center this “Black Friday” weekend. And if there, one of the places you must stop by to consider for a bite to eat is at the awesome Yataimura Food Court in Shirokiya on the 3rd floor of the mall. And in there now is the brand new Junpuu Ramen, who opened shop a week ago, and is at least for the foreseeable future, a permanent vendor there.

With Junpuu, that now makes three established Ramen-Ya in Yataimura, including MenYa Ifu Do-Do, just a few steps away in the beer garden area, and Tokachiya Hokkaido Ramen, on the mall side entrance of the joint, where all the bento guys stay.

Junpuu is specifically located in the back corner of Yataimura’s “Beer Garden” area, next to the Udon shop.

Eiji Kato, as shown above in the first photo, is the owner, chef and cook. Originally from Tokyo, Japan, Eiji-San has lived in Honolulu for the past five years, working as a manager at nearby Shokudo, then moving on to open Hokkaido Ramen Santouka, also nearby on Kaheka in front of Don Quijote. It must also be noted that because Eiji-San has lived and worked in Honolulu for a while now, his Eigo (English language skills) is excellent! Whew. Sure makes my Q&A’s that much easier.

Without further ado, let’s check out the menu (click to enlarge)…

And that’s it. No gyoza, curry rice or other side attraction “shenanigans”. Just ramen… which should be a good thing!

That said, notice there’s a VERY UNORTHODOX style offered here called their “Original Tomato Ramen with Egg”. Now, normally I wouldn’t DARE stray from my usual choice of Shoyu Ramen. However Tomato Ramen? OK, now THAT I must try!

And that is exactly what I ordered…

The shaker bottles on the tray are red chili pepper flakes and… and… and… Grated Parmesan Cheese? Whoah! More on that in a bit.

So what we have here with Junpuu’s absolutely CRAZY Tomato Ramen is a broth made with pork bones and bonito, finished with a generous dosage of sun-dried tomato puree. That crimson broth is topped with Chashu, Ground Beef, Menma, Ajitama and a variety of Spinach.

Hai, itadakimasu.

And? Wow, this sun-dried tomato based ramen broth is surprisingly much, MUCH better than I expected! I was kinda’ expecting Chef Boy Ardee, however it’s totally not the case.

Now the LAST thing I’d ever fathom added in or on my Ramen would be grated Parmesan Cheese, yet that’s exactly what I did here. Which I’ll admit, did make it taste like I was truly eating a Spaghetti-meets-Japanese Ramen hybrid. And surprisingly, just like the sun-dried tomato  paste in the broth, the cheese, when combined with the ramen noodles actually worked! I mean, I won’t say the likes of Assagio’s has anything to sweat over, yet for what it’s worth, the cheese in this ramen is win!

On to the ramen noodles, it’s kinda’ interesting. First of all, they’re sourced from Sun Noodle Factory, like most ramen shops in Honolulu are. Interesting, being, they’re more Chinese in style than Japanese, where I couldn’t really get that kansui egg-like flavor profile. They’re also on the thinner side, where honestly I’d prefer them just a tad thicker. Other than that rather “non-Japanese Ramen oddity”, the noodles were cooked perfectly al dente, and absorbed the flavor of the broth more than adequately to feel satisfied on the palate.

Junpuu’s Chashu (braised pork) is sliced thin and square, with an ample amount of fat for flavor, while being “hashi-tender”, if you will, meaniing you can pretty much tear it apart with your chopsticks. Totally works.

Then there’s what is definitely the highlight of Junpuu, is their absolutely STELLAR Ajitama, which is a soft-boiled egg simmered in a shoyu base… and Junpuu totally hits this part of the ramen OUT THE PARK!  It’s soft yolk is THE BOMB! While I didn’t ask Eiji-San how he makes it, I swear there’s a hint of Wasabi mixed in there. All I know is, I could pop a dozen of Junpuu’s Ajitama in one sitting, they’re THAT oishii!

To me, no other topping is more genuinely Japanese to Ramen as is Menma. It’s such a unique flavor, with it’s “woodsy” and “earthy” profile, while having a somewhat “tannic” element going on. And thankfully Junpuu delivers it.

Combined with the cheese and tomato element, this is pretty much Italian spaghetti-meets-Japanese ramen in what turned out a very pleasing way. Where summing it up, I give Junpuu’s Tomato Ramen a very solid 3 SPAM Musubi… and that’s a LOT, coming from a Shoyu Ramen kinda’ guy!

Before continuing on, here’s  how Junpuu’s Tan Tan Men looks…

And another bowl of the Tan Tan Men…

I tried a spoonful of the Tan Tan Men broth, which came across as creamy, along with a pronounced hit of garlic, while not being as spicy-hot as I expected. Interestingly, the gal of the boyfriend who sat next to me and shared it with me (yeah, I know, Mr. Congeniality here lol), gave it a resoundingly solid 10 stars. Wow!

Moving along, on a second visit, I just had to sample the Shoyu Ramen….

Hai, itadakimasu…

And? Hmmm, I dunno’. It’s kinda’ weird. Good, but weird. To me, Junpuu’s Shoyu Ramen comes across as the Tan Tan Men, sans the Chili Pepper. It’s also fairly mild ‘n tame.

The Chashu is consistently as oishi, being again, very fatty and “hashi-tender”.

Again, though, the star of the show is Junpuu’s INCREDIBLE Ajitama!…

Angle B…

Ajitama SUGOI YO!

Junpuu Ramen
Original Honolulu Noodle Company
1450 Ala Moana Blvd. #2250
Honolulu, Hawaii  96814

Tel. (808) 778-4818 (Eiji Kato, owner)

The Tasty Island rating:

(3) Very Good. Considerable of another visit or purchase. (Supah’ Ono!)

Related Links:
Junpuu Ramen at Yataimura – Yelp User Reviews

9 thoughts on “Yataimura Eats: Junpuu Ramen

  • November 28, 2014 at 12:54 pm
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    Thanx for the info!  Love me my ramen, make it at home daily. If you ever find a good and easy chasu recipe, please post. The ones I see requires hours of simmering and there is only one place that sells it for $12.99 per lb. Too takai for me.

    Also doomo for the 411 on the brine for the turkey. Yup you are right, the turkey was so moist I didn’t have to slice, I just pulled it apart.  It also produced over 3 cups of turkey, which I assumed was from the brine being released.  I was worried about over salting so I cut your recipe in half for the salt and sugar but kept the others ones intact.  I also did it in the refrig so it wasn’t fully immersed and rotated it whenever I opened the refrig.

    Once you brine, no ken go back.  Was so easy. Big mahalos for a delicious turkey dinner!

     

    Reply
    • November 28, 2014 at 1:06 pm
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      N,

      Regarding the Japanese Ramen Chashu recipe, here it is…

      http://tastyislandhawaii.com/2007/08/13/ramen-quest-chapter-3/

      Ramen Chashu Pork Recipe

      Chashu (for Chashumen)

      3-5 lbs. pork butt (shoulder)
      1 cup shoyu
      1/2 cup mirin
      1/2 cup sake
      1″ of a finger fresh ginger, slivered thinly (more or less to personal preference)
      1/2 cup chopped green onion (more or less to personal preference)

      Here’s the players…

      In cooking pot large enough to hold the piece of pork butt you have, set the fire to medium-high heat with a little oil and thoroughly brown the whole pork butt on all sides..

      Doing this will give the Chashu a slightly crisp edge to each slice, which compliments the silky ramen noodles beautifully.

      After the pork is browned, remove it and set aside. Drain any excess oil out of the pot then add the shoyu, mirin, sake, ginger and green onion in the same pot over medium-low heat and stir to combine.

      You can play with this recipe, but make sure you at least have the Shoyu and Sake in there. I’ve done it without Mirin, substituting a small amount of sugar, which also tasted oishii!

      After the shoyu, sake, mirin (or sugar) liquids and ginger are incorporated, add the pork back in, turn it around in the liquid and let it simmer on medium-low heat (with just a mild movement of the liquid to a slight bubble, but no more) for 1-1/2 hours, turning the pork over occasionally (this will help it evenly soak up the flavor of the braising liquid around the edges of the pork). Keep pot covered to prevent evaporation. The braising liquid level should remain at least 1/3 to no more than 2/3 up the sides of the pork butt while in the pot.

      You want the pork to be tender enough that you can slice through it with a knife easily, but not where it falls apart. About 1.5 hours simmering in the pot will get you there. Make sure to turn it over occasionally, so the meat infuses all that liquid goodness.

      After it’s done, pull the (now) chashu pork out and let it cool. You can add a little of that shoyu-sake broth to your ramen bowl if you want. I always do! But not too much, as it’s kinda’ sweet from the Mirin.

      Here’s how it looks when it’s done…

      After the Chashu pork is cool, slice into thin serving-size pieces…

      And that’s all she wrote (well that I wrote, anyway). Place a few pieces of Chashu in your ramen and you’re set for great semi-home made bowl of authentic Japanese Ramen.

      Itadakimasu!


      Kurume Ichiban Tonkotsu Shoyu Ramen

      Reply
  • November 28, 2014 at 12:56 pm
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    I meant to say 3 cups of gravy and the best part was I didn’t have to salt it!  And I love me lots of gravy.

    Reply
  • November 29, 2014 at 5:07 am
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    I like curry chicken spicy alot and wonder if there a spicy curry chicken ramen?

    It for people who love curry like me with ramen.

    Reply
    • November 29, 2014 at 7:54 am
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      Amy,

      I for one don’t like curry with ramen, or God forbid, Curry Ramen!

      Reply
      • December 3, 2014 at 12:31 pm
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        What, Pomai? No like curry ramen? You missing out! I’m with Amy on this! Maybe its a personal thing, but I always spice up my maruchan / Nissan / Top ramen with choke curry powder! My sis used to make the ramen, then cook it down until the broth is almost gone, then sprinkle curry powder on top and coat the noodles… I do my version topped with tons of chopped green onion and sometimes some red pepper flakes. Good stuff for a cold winter night on the Mainland!

        After all, it’s a logical extension of Japanese curry rice. Just with noodles!

        Reply
  • December 1, 2014 at 11:33 am
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    Mahalo for the chasu recipe, looks EZ enough, I going try soon! Doomo Arigato ~

    Reply
  • December 4, 2014 at 12:05 pm
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    This is just an FYI for the curry ramen lovers. There is a curry flavored ramen/ ramyon(Korean). It’s a little spicy. Perhaps start with this and embellish?  I have no affiliation with the company–just thought I’d share. It can be a little hard to find. Sorry for butting in.

    Ottogi Bekse Curry Myon

    Reply
    • December 4, 2014 at 12:07 pm
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      sorry, photo did not transmit.

      Reply

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