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Filling your opu with yummy pork belly

A La Carte

March 25, 2018

Story By: Caroline Wright | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO

Sliced Wasabi Pork Kakuni ($7.95)

Tucked into an unassuming strip mall on Kona Street behind Ala Moana Center is a little restaurant that sells some of the most delectable pork belly on the island.

And that’s saying a lot, because our island is filled with restaurants that sell an endless variety of mouth-watering recipes featuring this humble cut of meat. But Manichi Ramen delivers the goods, and they’re seriously tender and delicious.

The Koreans have their samgyeopsal; the Filipinos their lechon; the Okinawans their rafute (called shoyu pork here in Hawaii). They’re all delicious, but Manichi Ramen’s latest preparation takes pork belly to a new dimension.

Gluten-free noodles are now available upon request.

Called Sliced Wasabi Pork Kakuni ($7.95), the wonderful new appetizer consists of four generous slabs of pork cooked in the classic Japanese kakuni style. It’s served with green onions, generous dollops of chopped radish, marinated in snappy wasabi, and the complex, savory sauce in which the meat braised for hours.

“How is it?” asks store manager Chris Jon. “Really tender, right? I added the little bit of wasabi on top for flavor.”

The pork is very tender indeed, and so succulent that it’s hard to resist fighting over the last bite.

Because the restaurant’s kakuni pork also is used in other popular recipes here, daily supplies are limited. Visit early in the day to make sure you’re able to try some.

Also starting this month, Manichi Ramen began offering gluten-free noodles to customers. “A lot of people can’t eat regular noodles,” Jon explains. “There’s a lot of carbs in them, too. These are good substitutes.”

Gluten-free noodles, sometimes hard to find in ramen shops, can be substituted for regular noodles as available and at no extra charge. They’re densely chewy and satisfying, and delicious in any of Manichi’s ramen bowls.

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