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Rejoice in Gluten-Free Ramen

Columns What's for Lunch?

August 4, 2013

Story By: Rachel Breit | Photos by: Rachel Breit

Gluten-free ramen is a unicorn in the food world. But luckily, it doesn’t have to be an oxymoron. This is great news for those of you with food sensitivities. At Chinpei Ramen, owner Yoshi Hashigami offers three delicious options, yam, rice and corn noodles, imported from Japan and gluten free.

So, the next lunch break when you’re ravenous for ramen, instead of calling around trying to spoon down a seemingly mythical bowl, just head to Chinpei Ramen. And don’t forget to bring your coworkers — with almost 30 types of ramen and other items to choose from, there’s something to make everyone happy. If you have other food allergies, meals can be custom prepared for you.

Hashigami hails from Osaka, the foodie capital of Japan, and his authentic cooking is approved by Japanese-born patrons. According to these patrons, Hashigami’s ramen elicits feelings of home and is the most authentic around town. “I want to bottle the soup and take it with me,” one patron proclaims.

While meat has its place on the menu, lighter, vegetable-rich fair also has a strong presence. Vegetarian Ramen with yam noodles ($12.80 for a small) is a steaming bowl of vegetable broth (not made with shoyu, which is fortunate for those avoiding gluten) that hosts a medley of produce, including cabbage, shiitake mushroom, carrot and corn. The yam noodles soak up the flavors of the broth, are high in fiber, and like Hashigami says, have no calories — score one for the team.

Other vegetarian-friendly dishes include Tofu Salad ($9 for small), which comes with mixed greens, soft tofu, grated onions, cucumbers and tomato, and the house-made shoyu dressing, flavored with vinegar and sesame oil, or Thousand Island. And you won’t miss the meat in the hearty Vegetarian Gyoza ($4.40). Hashigami stuffs the doughy pillows with cabbage, green onion, soybeans and long rice, and suggests dunking them in the zesty gyoza sauce.

Finally, no meal is complete without garnishes. Spicy-Shoyu Pickled Cucumber ($2.20) awakens and cleanses the palate between bites. It’s brined with vinegar, shoyu and chili pepper for a day to yield a tangy crunch. Zasai pickled ($2.50), another type of pickle on the menu, is deeper and earthier in flavor.

Chinpei Ramen is equipped to host lunch meetings, and Hashigami suggests calling and making a reservation for larger parties. Parking in the front of the restaurant is free.

Chinpei Ramen

2080 S. King St., Honolulu
947-5919
Monday, 5-9:30 p.m.
Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. (lunch) and 5-10 p.m. (dinner)
Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Sunday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

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