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Order of the Day

Spice Up Your Life

By Michelle Lee Photos By Nathalie Walker
August 17, 2014

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It is no secret that here in Hawaii we love a bowl of good ramen. So, when Sanji Ramen opened last May, food enthusiasts and fellow restaurateurs alike enthusiastically came to show their support and try some of the eatery’s palate-pleasing favorites.

Not surprisingly, since its debut, one of Sanji’s most popular menu items has been the restaurant’s signature Jigoku Ramen ($9.50), a dish whose recipe originates from the city of Yokohama, Japan.

“The word jigoku means ‘hellfire’ in Japanese, so there is a very nice heat to the ramen,” says restaurant manager Mizuki Lesbirel. “To get the flavor just right, we season the broth with our homemade spicy miso paste, and boil the sauce with pork and chicken bones for more than 10 hours.”

The only ramen shop currently in Hawaii to offer Jigoku-style ramen, Sanji allows diners to customize the spiciness level of their ramen (starting from level one all the way to level 10 or higher). For the brave and daring, diners may want to attempt the restaurant’s Hellfire Ramen Challenge, a tears-inducing food adventure worthy of an episode on Man vs. Food. “It’s a very fun challenge. We invite anyone to eat our spiciest Jigoku Ramen in 10 minutes or less,” says Lesbirel. “Winners get their meal free and we put their picture on our wall of fame.”

For those craving something with less heat but just as much flavor, the chef recommends the classic Miso Ramen ($9), made from a savory miso shoyu broth served with seaweed and green onions.

Abura Soba ($8.25), a warm noodle dish served sans broth with shredded char siu, is another popular choice. “People love the Abura Ramen because the noodles are soaked in our special house shoyu sauce beforehand, so they retain so much flavor.

“There is no MSG added to anything, and whenever possible, we aim to make everything from scratch.”

Open until 2 a.m. daily, Sanji offers the ideal spot for a late-night get-together. “A lot of places on the island close early, so oftentimes people will come here to meet up with friends and family to enjoy some pupus and drinks,” says Lesbirel. “We have a range of beers and sakes at some of the most competitive prices.”

Sanji Ramen

835 Keeaumoku St., Honolulu
200-4521
Monday–Friday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5 p.m.-2 a.m.
Saturday–Sunday, 5 p.m.-2 a.m.