FUUD: Tenkaippin Ramen in Kapahulu

July 25th, 2008
By

You've probably seen the commercials.

Hawaii's sumo star Konishiki and former Yokuzuna Musashimaru raving about the ramen at Tenkaippin, a little, you-can-easily-miss-it ramen shop on Kapahulu Avenue.

I love, love ramen, so this spot — the only Hawaii location of this Japanese chain — was on my short list.

So the other day, after a surf session at Secrets — and on the insistence of my (former) landlord's son — we headed to Kapahulu to sample what many of my friends say is the best ramen on the island.

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The ramen shop on Kapahulu Avenue. Notice the chairs. That's for the people who have to wait to get seated.

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It reads, "If the restaurant is full, please line up towards the right. Thank you for your patience."

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Inside the restaurant, which seats about two dozen.

Tenakippin has been in Hawai'i — more specifically, in Waikiki — for about 8 years. But recently the popular ramen shop moved to Kapahulu, where it's been re-discovered by ramen aficionados who have heard about its unique dish.

And it really is unique. Its top-seller — kotteri ramen, with saimin-style noodles swimming in a thick yellowish broth — is like nothing you'll get anywhere else.

It may not sound appealing, but believe me, you'll love it.

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The kotteri ramen ($7.95) is the eatery's best seller. Look how thick that broth is!

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This is the broth up close.

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This ramen tastes particularly good with the restaurant's signature condiment: minced garlic and chili pepper.

So I did some research: the broth — chicken, if you're wondering — is thickened with chicken collagen gleaned from boiling down the bones and feet for hours.

Yes, collagen.

The broth, thick as gravy and a bit gritty, actually tastes like it's been thickened or flavored with cream or butter. But, as the servers insist, it's not. There are no dairy products — or flour or cornstarch — in there.

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I tried the assari ramen ($7.95), which came with a traditional soy-based chicken broth. Really tasty! (Tenkaippin also has a miso ramen.)

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Here's the assari ramen broth up close.

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Compare that to this — the kotteri — broth. Notice the difference?

Tenkaippin also has some popular side dishes such as fried rice, fried chicken and — of course — gyoza.

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Here's the gyoza. For a few bucks more, I got three with my meal.

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The gyoza didn't blow my mind, but it complemented the meal well.

It's not the easiest place to get to. You have to fight for parking (on Mooheau Street) with patrons of Starbucks, Jamba Juice and Kozo Sushi. So good luck. But if you can find parking — and if you can find the ramen shop — you won't be disappointed.

But bring a book. We got there at 2 p.m. and waited for about half an hour for an open table!

Tenkaippin Ramen, 617 Kapahulu Ave. at the corner of Mooheau Street. Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays, to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Phone: 732-1211.

Posted in Uncategorized | 94 Comments »

94 Responses to “FUUD: Tenkaippin Ramen in Kapahulu”

  1. first:

    First!


  2. FUUD: Tenkaippin Ramen in Kapahulu | surfgearcentral.com:

    [...] the rest of the post here: FUUD: Tenkaippin Ramen in Kapahulu business, calendar, cars, classifieds, entertainment, hanging-out, hawaii, japanese, jobs, [...]


  3. M:

    Parking is really hard to come by. Every time I tried, there was no parking so until I can fine parking, I haven't gone there yet but I heard that it's really guud. The closest you'll get compared to the ramen in Japan...


  4. turk fontaine:

    Thanks, CAT. I usually go to Nakamura about three time a week, but I'm going to give this place a try. I tend to get stuck in ruts. I can't cook so I eat out every day. Typically, the egg and spinach sandwich with coffee at Ono Cheese Steak at 8am. Seafood pasta at Banana Leaf around 5 and miso chicken at Side Street about 10. - the latter with a lot of Kirin. I love the noise of the place.


  5. Ron:

    Thank you Cat for another wonderful set of fuud pix! Looks great, and gotta try it out. Something special and a change from Genki Sushi.


  6. Annoddah Dave:

    CAT,

    Aaaiiiyyyaaahhh! FUUD Pixs! Tenks! Have tried it and it is as advertised, but my kids prefer the taste of Rai Rai down the street. Curiously, other ramen shops have appeared before on Kapahulu and to date only Rai Rai survives. Believe you featured Rai Rai about a year ago.

    Do notice that Tenkaippin is usually full of people. Wonder if Paul Janka would consider this a good pick up place? It is hard to hold a sizzling date conversation while everyone is slurping the noodles and the pressure is on to get out of the place as people standing outside are watching to see who is leaving! Sorry, I just can't get that dude's schtick and his arrogance as a reflection of our society???!!


  7. Larzi:

    ooohhh!! Looks so goood! My leftovers from last night don't look so appetizing now. :(


  8. The Chicago Cousin:

    Looks good , nothing like a little chicken collagen to perk up a Friday.

    On a different note, Cat, I just read Randy Pausch passed away today. I thought we had a great discussion on him not too long ago.


  9. Jason:

    That soup stock reminds me of that at Yotteko-ya in McCully Shopping Center. If anyone has been to both, can you compare them? I absolutely love Yotteko-ya, and it's easier for me to go there than Kapahulu. But I've seen the commercials too, and I might like to visit someday.


  10. kako mochi:

    i've never tried over there, but have eaten at the mccully shopping center one . . . they have collagen in their stock too :)

    buth the pics look good . . . getting hungry for lunch already!! hahaha . . . too bad i have my home lunch to look forward to when 1230 rolls around :(


  11. Aaron:

    I have yet to try that place, but most of my foodie friends that have gone have labeled it as 'overrated'. I guess to each their own...

    Jason - i've been to the one at McCully shopping center and I really liked it. as far as the broth goes, i think i prefer the 'tan tan' style that is served at Goma Ichi and Goma Tei (Keeaumoku and Ward Center, respectively) and at Asahi Grill. For just straight-up ramen, nothing beats Hokkaido Ramen in Kaimuki.


  12. Cat:

    Hey, Cuz, thanks for the head's up. I just posted another blog on Pausch. He was such an inspiration. I can watch that lecture over and over again.


  13. Brandon:

    I like the yotekka-ya paitan broth better than the tenkaippin kotteri. that thing is just too damn rich like porridge.

    i agree with aaron's friends and think tenkaippin, though good, is overpriced and overrated. you can get a bowl of ramen similar or even better at gomaichi or gomatei.

    actually, lately i've been indulging i the shoyu tsukemen over at taishoken. if anyone hasn't tried tsukemen yet you've gotta try it. plus taishoken makes their own noodles in the store. so good. taishoken is also based off an popular japanese chain. here's short piece on tsukemen and taishoken is included http://youtube.com/watch?v=fKB64W7GrKE


  14. Jishinda:

    After you finish the noodles and the toppings, get some white rice and mix it in the soup! Oishi~!!


  15. ono:

    wow, i am seriously hungry now, but what's in my mind is my farvorite restaurant Kit n Kitchen at King n University, euro-asian fusion, i just love their Beef Chimichurri, best garlic sauce in my life. also their Sandy chicken wings, they make me suck my way to the chicken bone.
    check this out
    http://www.kitnkitchen.com


  16. opso:

    ho.....that minced garlic/chili pepper condiment looks like a winnah. i think it can be added to anything.
    now i going try experiment and make my own mixture. :mrgreen:

    the rest of the fuud pix look ono too. thanx :D


  17. Aaron:

    the chimichurri is the best ever! kind of off-topic as far as ramen goes, but Kit n' Kitchen is one of the most interesting places to eat on this island. It doesn't break your wallet, either.

    I'm a sucker for the spicy ground beef with tomato sauce.


  18. J.P.K.:

    what's funny about the new Tenkaippin location is that it took over another ramen shop. i thought that ramen shop was pretty good as well, but i guess with no advertising it was hard. not like Tenkaippin with a commercial every 10 minutes on OC16 (seems like it). haven't tried over there, but i wouldn't be too surprised if it was overrated like some of you mentioned. I prefer Kyoto Ramen/Yotteko-ya at McCully. partially because we go enough that they know our orders.


  19. chawan_cut:

    how do you manage to eat so much and look so thin!!!! hehe. or is surfing the answer?


  20. Brokedamout:

    Cat,
    Farmer's Market (across Ward Warehouse) has a new eatery called "The Poke Bowl." Basically, you pick a small or large bowl of rice, then a variety of whatever kind of poke you want (includes shoyu, spicy ahi, and all the local favorites). You can then pick different toppings (nato, nori, kim chee etc.). I had a large spicy ahi bowl with nori and a bottle water. Total came out to about $7 and some change which is VERY reasonable. The food was GOOD!!! They also sell an assortment of bentos and sushi as well as many different kinds of cold drinks. They had some empty refrigerators so it looks like there may be a liquor license coming!

    Next time you surf Kewalo's or Ala Mos, stop here and grab a bite, you will NOT be dissapointed.

    P.S. Be sure to post some pics


  21. Wolfy:

    That Kotteri broth has a wonderful creamy, miso-like richness to it. Never tasted anything like it before.


  22. yukiallie:

    For myself, RaiRai is just too much msg. Very local ramen dishes. I still like to go to Gomaichi on Keeaumoku. It's the best for me.


  23. wicked:

    Okay another place to add to my places to check out when I'm on Oahu! In Hilo, we honestly don't have good authentic noodle restaurants... On a sad note, Jim Okeefe of Okeefe and sons bakery in Hilo will be closing his doors next Thursday due to the rise in shipping costs and rise in cost of flour (something like 4x!). We'll miss his artisan breads and sandwiches!!!


  24. Ed:

    Kewl Cat! Check out my old school article for more info: http://www.aroundhawaii.com/lifestyle/around_town/2006-06_a_taste_of_kyoto_in_the_heart_of_waikiki.html . I know, I know, outdated (Waikiki) location, but the rahmen taste is still the same! Hehe! Looking forward to your next one! :)


  25. the ramen blog & other goodies! | links for a lazy sunday:

    [...] be good, right? Sumo great Konishiki and yokozuna (grand champion) Musashimaru both rave about Tenkaippin Ramen in Kapahulu, [...]


  26. Stephen:

    Aww, I love ramen. I should check the place out, since I live in Waikiki. I've been eating too much Ezogiku.


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