New eats: Tsurumen ramen

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I don’t usually go to places as soon as they open and post a review right away, but so many people saw my instagram yesterday and asked about the new place on Kapahulu, that I felt I had to answer the questions.

The old Alex’s Drive In – turned Wasabi Bistro – turned Sake Street – turned Burgundy on Kapahulu Ave. is now separated into two or three sections, kind of like a food court. Yesterday we went to Tsurumen, the ramen vendor, which just opened. They have a food truck parked next to the building and fish purveyor Stevens Fernandez says once that’s up and running, there will be more menu selections.

Right now there are just four ramen options, two of which are similar except one has an egg. Chef Masuo Onishi brought Tsurumen — a chain in Osaka — to Honolulu to introduce a new style to the market. From what I can gather, Osaka doesn’t have its own distinct style of ramen like Sapporo does; the individual shops there simply set themselves apart with their own creativity.

Each bowl shown here is the large size, but I’ve given you the price for small and large. In each case (except the tsukemen, where the noodles are separate), the noodles absorbed the broth quickly, so you aren’t left with much to drink. For non-soup people like me, that’s not a big problem, but it does seem a little strange. Chef Will Chen said that part of the problem was that I took too long taking pictures and didn’t eat my ramen fast enough. Hmph.


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Remember the old Wasabi Bistro, then Sake Street, then Burgundy on Kapahulu Avenue? It's now ... something else.

Overall assessment: This is a good, filling meal at a good price — it’s a decent value if you’re hungry. The ramen isn’t nearly as good as other places that have carefully matched up their noodles and broths, but it has potential. Keep in mind that this place literally just opened, so I’m betting Chef Onishi makes further tweaks to the recipes as he expands the menu selection.

Big mahalo to Dane Nakama, who bought our lunch! (He doesn’t have anything to do with the restaurant, he just wanted to be Thurston Howell for a day.)

Tsurumen Ramen
1006 Kapahulu Ave.
Limited parking in lot