Cool down with the lowdown on cold noodles

Columns Ono, You Know

October 5, 2014

Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Nathalie Walker

Is there an attractive way to slurp up noods (noodles)? If so, my inquiring mind would love to know. All my life, I’ve been a complete sucker for noodles — ramen, pho, chow mein, pasta, pad Thai, somen and soba — you name it!

And to be honest, in this recent, disgustingly humid and hot weather, cool noodles have tamed my insanity, because the combination of humidity and hunger brings out the cranky in me.

But, these OYK hot spots provide the coolest relief. This week, I tried my best to mind my manners as I sat down to bowls of freshly made soba and somen, but realistically, it turned into an uber slurp fest gone wild. And unlike ramen, which most people think of as brothy, ultra-savory and rich, these cold noodle options — which I devoured within minutes — were doused in a lighter, yet electrifyingly flavorful sauce. As for the noods? They were beyond amazing. So refreshing, in fact, I would equate the dining experience to a satisfying dip in the pool on a sweltering hot day. The noodles were on point, cooked to the perfect consistency — al dente with a bit of chewiness, which I love.

Sekiya’s Restaurant & Delicatessen

Sekiya’s Restaurant & Delicatessen opened in 1935 in Kaimuki, and has stuck by its coveted recipes for decades. Yet the locale is new and improved, as it recently completed a series of renovations: updating the dining room, installing new kitchen equipment and revitalizing the fish pond.

“Sekiya’s is your neighborhood restaurant,” says general manager Lynn Ky. “Most of our diners are regulars, and that’s because they like the consistency and taste of the food.”

This week, like recent weeks, the humidity has been relentless. So, I played it cool with Sekiya’s Hiyashi Somen ($8.95) — cold somen noodles adorned with slivers of fishcake and diced green onions — and Zaru Soba ($8.95), cold buckwheat noodles topped with shredded nori. Both noodle dishes are served with a side of homemade sauce, which Ky says is made from dashi, shoyu and a hint of sugar. Zaru Soba also is accompanied by green onions and a dollop of wasabi for an extra kick to your slurp.

So hungry, I opted for Tenzaru Shrimp Tempura ($13.95), which is basically an upgraded Zaru Soba, thanks to two pieces of deep-fried shrimp tempura that complement the dish. And if you’re a loyal carnivore (me!), you have to go all out and partake in a side of BBQ Yakitori Chicken ($3.95 for two skewers) or BBQ Stick Meat ($2.25 for one skewer). And while you’re at it, Namasu ($3.95) and Orange Freeze ($4.95), an orange sherbet dessert drink, make for an even cooler meal!

Sekiya’s Restaurant & Delicatessen
2746 Kaimuki Ave.

Fairwood Drive-Inn & Ramen Diner

Our cold noodle journey continued at Fairwood Drive-Inn & Ramen Diner. Earlier this year, owner Tiffany Ko decided to move in a new direction by spotlighting healthy alternatives to ramen.

Warm, savory broths and wheat ramen made right here in the Islands by Sun Noodle Factory always please the soul, but on days where the temperature feels as if it’s in the upper 90s, all I want is a platter of Cold Wakana ($8.50), which features spinach noodles, soba-style, garnished with shredded nori and accompanied by soba sauce, green onion and wasabi zest. Ko also notes that cold udon can be substituted for soba.

So, although the heat may be unbearable at times, Fairwood Drive-Inn & Ramen Diner helps to keep you cool in delicious and nutritious ways.

Fairwood Drive-Inn & Ramen Diner
3221 Waialae Ave., Ste. 21

Ilima Awards
Hawaii's Best