Noodle Lovers Itinerary

If you're craving comfort food, noodles always make for a slurp-er good supper. And on O‘ahu the number of great ramen shops constantly bowls us over. While you may not be able to noodle your way over to each one in just one visit, this list should give you a head start on the dining itinerary for your next island escape!

Our top ramen recommendations include...

If spicy soup is your thing, (1) Agu Ramen is sure to boil to the top of the list. This ramen hot spot has distinguished themselves from other O‘ahu noodle shops with their specialty soups and thin, Fukuoka-style noodles. Here, their broths are sincerely spicy. In fact, we'd recommend starting out at a level two even if you want to be adventurous. Trust us, this place is hot stuff.

If you don't want to venture too far from Waikiki, (2) Marukame Udon is creating crowds with their bowls of simple and tasty, fresh, house-made udon noodles. Feel free to "splurge" and help yourself to a large bowl (for $6.25 a pop), which comes with seven different soup options. Our personal favorite is the zaru udon (perfect for a Hawaii's hot humid days) with a side of kakiage (thinly diced vegetables and tempura) and a soft-boiled egg. Grab a tray and get it udon!

Despite a number of new ramen shops steaming up O‘ahu's noodle scene, to kama‘aina connoisseurs (3) Yotekko Ya Kyoto Ramen still noodles out the competition. Rolling out bowls of ramen so good you'll feel like you've been transported to Kyoto, this cozy ramen shop is known for their popular Paitan broth and fresh noodles which you can choose to order "local style" (softer) or "Japanese style" (chewy). For those who like to pig out on pork, we'd recommend ordering their Kakuni Ramen - Yotekko Ya's version of chashu but so soft, it almost melts in your mouth.

When the Hawaiian Islands experiences a rainy day nothing hits the spot quite like a steaming bowl of (4) Ramen Nakamura's noodles. If you're looking for something filling, the Ramen Nakamura ox tail ramen is nothing to wag your tail at. We like to get to order the full combo set, which at $18.99 may seem a little pricey but includes a bowl of oxtail ramen, small plate of fried rice and three pieces of gyoza.

Anytime the temperature in Hawai‘i dips, our craving for ramen steams up. And (5) Kiwami's new location on Ke‘eaumoku (pronounced kay-ay-ah-moh-koo) Boulevard is the perfect place to dry out over a lunch of tsukemen ramen. Pronounced tsooh-keh-men, this ramen is known as their "dipping ramen" where the noodles and concentrated dipping sauce are served separately. At just under $10 for a bowl of noodles and a complimentary bowl of char siu and rice, a meal here will warm your belly and keep your wallet full.

Entrée your Downtown experience with a lucky lunch at (6) Lucky Belly. Grab at table and fill your opu (belly) with this O‘ahu restaurant's edited menu including their popular Belly Bowl (which includes belly, smoked bacon and Kurobuta sausage) and their Pork Belly Bao (pork belly sandwiched between a super soft bao bun with sake hoisin and pickled cucumbers).

 

1) Agu Ramen

If you ask around, Agu Ramen is sure to boil to the top with rah-mazing reviews. This ramen hot spot has distinguished themselves from other O‘ahu noodle shops with their specialty soups and thin, Fukuoka-style noodles.

Inside, Agu's dramatic and fiery design features red accents and dark wood, which pairs perfectly with their standout spicy broth. Trust us, when they say spicy they mean spicy. Sweat on your brow, burning mouth spicy. They invite guests to choose the spiciness level from one to five (each level is an additional teaspoon of chili pepper). We recommend starting with level two - even level one can pique a sensitive palate.

If you can't decide from among the bevy of broths we promise you'll be bowled over by their Tonkotsu ramen, a soup prepared by boiling pork bones for 18 hours. And don't be embarrassed to pork out on their chashu - the premium-grade pork from Okinawa for which Agu Ramen is named. They're open till midnight on Fridays and Saturdays so after a long night on the town, their soupy, starchy bowls hit the spot! Here, you'll enjoy a meal that's good to the last drop.

 

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2) Marukame Udon

An easy stroll along Kuhio Avenue, Marukame Udon is steaming up Waikiki with their bowls of simple and tasty, fresh, house-made udon noodles. This cozy eatery has crowds of kama‘aina (local residents) and visitors lining up to order "cafeteria style" and load their trays with delicious Japanese comfort food.

If you're craving something warm and savory, Marukame Udon is the place to dip in for an affordable meal-on-the-go. "Splurge" and help yourself to a large bowl (for $6.25 a pop) which comes in seven different types including curry, niku (with thinly sliced beef), ontama (with a soft poached egg), kamaage (with a dipping sauce of sesame and ginger, and zaru (cold udon with a light dipping sauce). Our personal favorite is the zaru udon (perfect for a Hawaii's hot humid days) with a side of kakiage (thinly diced vegetables and tempura) and a soft boiled egg.

While you're waiting in line to pick your udon, musubi and tempura, you can get a taste for how your food is made. As entertaining as it is delicious, at Marukame you can watch the chefs roll out your udon noodles, fry tempura and roll musubi with deft hands as you work up your appetite. Grab a tray and get it udon!

 

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3) Yotekko Ya Kyoto Ramen

Despite a number of new ramen shops steaming up Oahu’s noodle scene, to kama‘aina connoisseurs Yotekko Ya Kyoto Ramen still noodles out the competition. Rolling out bowls of ramen so good you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to Kyoto, Yotekko Ya is a kamaaina staple on a cool day. In fact, anytime the temperature dips below 70 we call it a Yotekko Ya night.

Tucked into the second floor corner of McCully Shopping Center, Yotekko Ya Kyoto Ramen is a cozy ramen shop known for their popular Paitan broth and fresh noodles which you can choose to order “local style” (softer) or “Japanese style” (chewy). For those who like to pig out on pork, we’d recommend ordering their Kakuni Ramen – Yotekko Ya’s version of char siu but so soft, it almost melts in your mouth. 

 

While there are more than 14 different broths the Paitan Ramen is their most popular. The milky-looking soup has a delicate flavor of fresh pork, chicken, vegetables and spices that have simmered on Yotteko Ya’s stove for more than 10 hours. Available only for dine-in guests, there is only a limited amount each day so arrive early to get your Paitan fix. And unlike most ramen broths you’ll encounter, Yotekko Ya’s Paitan soup isn’t just tasty – it’s also good for you. In fact its chock full of collagen which is said to prevent aging in the skin and joints so you can get your ramen fix while turning back the hands of time. I’d say that’s a bowl full!

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4) Ramen Nakamura

When the Hawaiian Islands experiences a rainy day nothing hits the spot quite like a steaming bowl of Ramen Nakamura's noodles. And because they're conveniently located along Kalakaua Avenue you don't have to go far for a satisfying meal that will warm you up without burning a hole in your wallet.

If you're looking for something filling, Ramen Nakamura is known for their ox tail ramen, which is numero uno on Waikiki Parc's general manager, Julie A's list of favorite noodles. We like to order the full combo set, which at $18.99 may seem a little pricey but includes a bowl of oxtail ramen, small plate of fried rice and three pieces of gyoza.

While you're slurping up your meal you can scan through Ramen Nakamura's walls lined with autographed boards. And because they are open till 11:30 p.m. it's the perfect way to end the evening after night club or bar hopping through Waikiki.

 

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5) Lucky Belly

In Hawai‘i ramen isn't something you slurp only when it's pouring rain and 60 degrees out (yes, island natives have a skewed perception on what makes for cold weather). If you're someone who has a deep appreciation for noodles - Lucky Belly is the place to be. Trust us, your belly will thank you.

For those who remember Mini Garden in Chinatown, new owners and Honolulu natives Dusty Grable and Jesse Cruz have transformed the dated space into a hip new place to grab a piping hot bowl of ramen, with a glass of sake or your favorite whiskey. Amongst the most popular items on this O‘ahu restaurant's very edited menu -- right now there are just a little over a dozen options to choose from -- are the Belly Bowl (which includes belly, smoked bacon and Kurobuta sausage) and their Pork Belly Bao (pork belly sandwiched between a super soft bao bun with sake hoisin and pickled cucumbers).

Because the tiny eatery can squeeze in only 50 customers at a time, you might want to put your name in and then take a stroll down the street to Restaurant Epic or JJ Dolans for a drink or two while you wait for a table to free up.

 

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