Back home in Yokohama, I grew up eating ramen in authentic, hole-in-the-walls, with chefs tossing pigs’ bones for tonkotsu broths and making fresh noodles behind greasy, crowded counters. It’s an intimate, elbow-bumping affair of taxicab conversation with chefs and cigarette-smoking, hungry businessmen seated next to you until the food comes.
When I went to Shirokiya’s ramen festival, I felt right at home–the yelling cooks, long lines and Japanese/Engrish. The ramen corner on Ala Moana Shirokiya’s remodeled second floor features different ramen Japanese shops every two weeks until mid-next year. I rushed over to Hide-chan Ramen, a shop hailing from Hakata, Fukuoka. My Gyokai Kiwami Black Chashumen ($11.25) came with five tender slices of stewed pork with fried garlic oil “black style” poured on top and mixed in the broth. The Sun Noodles were thin and firm, nothing special, but the thick, MSG-free broth was flavorful, and the cabbage, onions and bean sprouts balanced out the strong oil. They altered the broth for local Hawaii folk, but one of the workers said, “Japanese customers like it as well.”
Hide-chan Ramen’s “father” shop Hakata Daruma arrived recently, followed by Tokyo Hikarimen (there until Dec. 27). This first round closes Jan. 15, 2012, with the next beginning Feb. 1. The rotation schedule is brutally fast, so there’s no time to put down your chopsticks. Get slurping. —1450 Ala Moana Blvd., [shirokiya.com], 973-9111