Opened in December 2016, Waikiki Yokocho is a promising destination for Japanese cuisine lovers. Ranging from musubi to Michelin-starred restaurants, Waikiki Yokocho features several dining options that would satisfy any budget and palates. A highlight of Waikiki Yokocho is Ramen Alley featuring 4 ramen shops with different regional flavors.
We decided to check out Ramen Bario, a ramen-ya that prides itself on filling the bowl with an overflow of toppings!
Since we go on a week day, service was fast. We got seated immediately at the counter, to which we were really excited to watch the ramen-making process. However, the bar was too high we couldn't see anything!
After studying the menu, we decided to get:
Bario Egg Tsukemen: tsukemen is a type of ramen that features warm soup with a separate serving of noodles for dipping. Tsukemen noodles are thicker, al dente, and served cold. At Bario, the broth for tsukemen and ramen is from the same base. However, for a strong kick, the tsukemen has chili spice and vinegar in it. Vinegar!! Did you hear me? Yes, the broth was more acidic than a regular ramen broth. Upon the first bite, I was pleasantly surprised with how strong the broth is. Porky, thick, a little tart, and full of small fat pieces. The bowl was topped with beansprouts, cabbage, a whole ramen egg, and of course fatty chashu. It was filled to the brim I had to eat some beansprout first to have "space" for noodle dipping.
Upon the first bite, I was pleasantly surprised with how strong the broth is. Porky, thick, a little tart, and full of small fat pieces. The bowl was topped with beansprouts, cabbage, a whole ramen egg, and of course fatty chashu. It was filled to the brim I had to eat some beansprout first to have "space" for noodle dipping.
It was really, really delicious for the first few bites. There were an abundance of fat pieces swimming in the broth, thus making the broth really, well, fatty. It got really heavy halfway through the bowl, I had to try my best to finish it.
Bario Egg Ramen: We also got a Bario Egg Ramen for comparison. The broth is definitely similar without the vinegar kick in it. To be honest, it was not the best tonkotsu broth I've had. The soup was too heavy and a little bland having no vinegar or umami flavor in it. I didn't care for the broth really. However, the ramen egg was excellently executed. It was soft, runny, and sweet on the inside. How they control the flavor of egg yolk without breaking the shell remains a mystery to me.
Chashu was well done: tender, moist, and flavorful like how it should be.
If you finish the whole bowl, you would be greeted with a "Mahalo" (Thank you in Hawaiian)!
Although located within a food court, the shop was really cute and chic for a ramen-ya.
Ramen Bario is definitely something I want to try once. However, next time I want to try out other ramen places in Waikiki Yokocho.
Organic omusubi (rice balls)? Since when rice balls became so hipster-healthy?
Is the spam organic, as well?
Since Nana's Green Tea is flooding Hawaii's Instagram world with its matcha desserts, we decided to try that as well. I mean, how can you not like Japanese delicacy dessert things. The menu is quite extensive with not only matcha items but also hojicha - roasted brown rice tea. While I'm a hojicha fan, I would try matcha for today.
Matcha Warabimochi Parfait: matcha jelly, vanilla soft cream, corn flakes, warabimochi (jelly-like cornstarch mochi covered in toasted rice powder), anmitsu (red beans), matcha ice cream, topped with whipped cream and matcha syrups. Yummm!!!
Look at the shiny matcha syrups. The ice cream tastes super matcha, not like the powder stuff you buy at supermarkets. My favorite part is the warabimochi, it is glutinous and jelly-like which I love. Wished there are more kinako (roasted rice powder) though.
Nana's Green Tea is super tasty and I love the wide range of menu items. I would love to try the hojicha and other drink items! Expected the price to be a bit high, since authentic matcha powder is not cheap.
Final verdict: I like Waikiki Yokocho since it's a food court that is actually nice and not overly crowded. However, most of the places are cash-only. If you love Japanese foods, Waikiki Yokocho definitely will not disappoint. If you're a heavy ramen eater, Bario is absolutely a good choice. For women and light soup fan, I would suggest trying it once just for the experience.
And Nana's Green Tea is a must.
Nana's Green Tea Instagram