Stroll through Ramen Road and discover a range of flavorsA La Carte
July 1, 2018
Story By: Caroline Wright | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO
As a man fortunate enough to visit Japan a half dozen times a year, Frank Clark, founder of Waikiki Yokocho, decided to bring something he loves from Japan to Hawaii.
“I always wondered why we could not produce an authentic restaurant alley similar to the ones in Japan,” says Clark.
A few years ago, the award-winning real estate agent decided to take his sense of wonder and tackle the task of creating his very own yokocho, which is basically an alleyway filled with small shops that typically serve food and drinks.
Clark’s under taking was a success to say the least, as Waikiki Yokocho, a 23,000-square-foot space featuring 14 Japanese restaurants, was born in December 2016 at Waikiki Shopping Plaza.
When it was time to promote Waikiki Yokocho, Clark began with its charming noodle shops, an enclave known as Ramen Road. The result was a short film called Ramen Yokocho, winner of an Emmy Award at the 47th Annual Northern California Area Emmy Awards.
In visits to each of the four shops on Ramen Road, filmmakers Andrew Tran and Lanai Tabura (host of Cooking Hawaiian Style) explore the history and styles of ramen. With cameos from Robert Kekaula, Kelly Boy DeLima, Pashyn Santos, chef Eric Pascual, and a few more of Tabura’s pals, the film is a mouthwatering invitation to Ramen Road and Yokocho Waikiki for locals and visitors alike.
Within Ramen Road, one can find an array of different ramen styles and flavors.
For instance, Ramen BARIO serves up creamy Tonkotsu broth and features tsukemen, the unique dipping-style of ramen in which broth is served separately from noodles.
At Tonkotsu Kazan Ramen, diners can find Osaka-style ramen with unique flare like Beef Sukiyaki Kazan ($25.80), which is presented in a stone bowl and heated to 480 degrees. The tasty dish comes with vegetables, seasoned beef and, of course, noodles.
Baikohken, founded in Hokkaido in 1969, earned a Michelin star for its delec-table ramen offerings. Try a bowl of Baikohken’s Butter & Corn Ramen Miso ($16.49), recommended by Tabura. “So much mana is put into what they do,” he says. “I think locals will love this dish because of the broth, butter and the corn. Locals love corn!”
Though Chinatowns are found all over the world, few districts are exclusively dedicated to Japanese culture and cuisine. “I hope more Yokochos expand throughout the U.S.,” says Clark.