Our go-to: Ramen

The bowls that draw the Frolic team again and again
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When a dish is stay-on-the-brain good, you get it again and again. These are the Frolic team's go-to ramen bowls.

Black garlic ramen at Golden Pork, $12.75

golden pork black garlic ramen
Photo by Melissa Chang

It’s a solid representation of Hakata-style ramen. Rich, garlicky tonkotsu broth with a thin, chewy noodle and a nice, fatty chashu. Though the portion isn’t huge, the richness of the soup is so satisfying that I always leave satisfied. — Jason Chin 

1279 S. King St. • Ala Moana • 888-5358 • https://www.facebook.com/GoldenPorkTonkotsuRamenBar/

Tan tan ramen at Goma Tei, $11.25

Goma Tei’s tan tan broth plus Goma Tei’s char siu makes this supah winnahs!

I love Goma Tei’s char siu cuz it’s super thick, but still really tender. Put ‘em togeddah with their tan tan broth and it’s tan tan heaven. Not overly sesame and not overly spicy. It’s perfection. Noplace else get tan tan like Goma Tei. Ask for da Numbah 1! Sometimes when I get super hungry I get da Numbah 2, da Char Siu Tan Tan, which is same like da Numbah 1, but instead of one piece char siu, you get three!!! — Lee A. Tonouchi

Various locations • http://www.gomatei.com

Char siu shio ramen at Hokkaido Ramen Santouka, $11.50

Char siu shio ramen with bamboo shoots, wood ear mushrooms, fishcake and green onions

 

Japan is my favorite place to go on vacation and has been for the last 20 years.  When the mood strikes and I absolutely need to scratch that Nippon itch , I head to Hokkaido Santouka Ramen.   Firm yet yielding noodles and a clean rich broth that satisfies my cravings, it’s a bowl that transports me to my happy place with a scream of Yokoso! Gregg Hoshida

801 Kaheka St A-8 • Kaheka • 941-1101 • https://www.santouka.co.jp/en/shop-foreigin/usa/foreign01-009

Special ramen at Ramen Bario, $19.98

Special ramen topped with slabs of char siu, bean sprouts and a seasoned egg

The Special Ramen at Ramen Bario in Waikiki Yokocho is without a doubt my favorite ramen. It checks all the boxes: thick chewy noodles, flavorful slabs of meat, well-seasoned egg and rich, creamy broth. It gets even better when you kick it up a notch with optional chopped garlic, available with every order. A regular serving is big enough for two. Great for sharing on a date. Or all for yourself if you're really hungry. One bowl of my favorite ramen is enough reason for me to brave the Waikiki traffic and crowds. Eric Baranda 

2250 Kalakaua Ave. • Waikiki • 777-3548 • http://www.bario.co.jp/en/

Pesto ramen with egg at Gashoken, $15.30

Pesto ramen with egg is my definition of Italian-Japanese fusion

I know basil and cheese sounds more Italian than Japanese, but trust me — this ramen combo works. When I’m craving noodles at Shirokiya Japan Village Walk, I get Gashoken’s pesto ramen with egg. There are other ramen vendors to choose from, but I never deviate. Gashoken is also the only kiosk that sells a pesto ramen. 

The rich, creamy pork bone broth has a strong basil flavor, original sweet and spicy sauce, char siu, green onions, Parmesan cheese, two grape tomatoes and kikurage (cloud ear mushrooms). Its distinct green color distinguishes it from any other ramen. The noodles are thin, soft and chewy, and I love the hearty, thick pesto and generous Parmesan. The char siu pieces are big, flavorful and tender, and if I’m really hungry, I’ll do the extra noodle upgrade for $1.

Note: Gashoken doesn’t do takeout, but if you have leftovers, you can ask for a container. If you want more char siu, the pesto ramen with charsiu ($17.30) comes with 5-6 pieces. If you want all the available toppings, order the pesto ramen special ($18.80). If you want the most basic pesto ramen (no extra toppings), that’s also an option for $13.80. Kelli Shiroma

Shirokiya Japan Village Walk • Ala Moana Center • 1450 Ala Moana Blvd. • Ala Moana • 973-9111 • https://www.facebook.com/gashokenHI/