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By Steven Li on 2006-08-12

August 11, 2006

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Ramen, curry ramen, curry rice, undon, katsu curry this and that is plentiful in Honolulu. And that is a good, because I don’t know what I would do without an abundance of curry eating spots. Goma Tei in Ward Centre is the newest ramen shop around town (opening up earlier in the spring) and it distinguishes itself with a more refined and chic decor in contrast to the competition. It also separates itself with a correspondingly higher price tag.
Our family stopped for dinner on Wednesday evening (when I really should have been studying for my stats final). The restaurant with six tables and a u-shaped bar counter was completely full, but we only had to wait a bit before being seated. Thank god, cause I was really getting hungry. Like REALLY hungry.

Since it was our first time, Dad and I both opted for the house Tan Tan Ramen. I don’t know where the name “tan tan” comes from, or if was just randomly made up, but I do know I was happy happy with my food. The large deep ceramic bowl is flooded with a wonderfully nutty sesame based soup and a touch of spicy heat. The noodles are from a local company, Kalihi Sun Noodles. They offer a nice chew and are just rough enough to cling onto the broth, which is slightly thicker than say, shoyu ramen. But wait! I have not gotten to the best part. Oh, the char siu! It was noted as “Japanese style char siu” on the menu, but it so tender, dare I even say buttery, that even dad didn’t realize it was char siu. I offered half to mom who said for me too keep it for myself (didn’t know I looked that hungry). Being the good daughter, I said, “nono, you should try it.” Until I took a bite, or rather, until it sort of fell apart and melted in my mouth. Then I promptly took mom’s piece back in a rush. It was divine.

My misbehaving camera decided to die after I photographed the ramen and my sister’s curry rice, so you’ve been denied any visual evidence of the gyoza. Priced at $5.95 for 5 pieces, I found it a tad expensive but was worth the deal. The pan-fried skin was thin and crispy, like a delicate fist bearing a juicy hot concoction of savory meats and shrimp. My mom had the Curry Tan Tan Ramen ($7.50) which was essentially the same thing with curry mixed with the broth. No char siu in her order though!

This is my sister’s curry rice. As I’ve probably mentioned before, she is a simple eater without much variety. But what she eats, she knows well. And she finished this entire dish, carrots in the curry and all. That is unusual because: 1) she rarely finishes everything 2)she NEVER eats vegetables. Fortunately I had a taste/big spoonful of the rice and curry. Thick and slightly sweet like most Japanese curries with chunks of beef, potatoes, onions and carrots, this was one of the better curries I had recently. But my favorite is still at the Curry House. We walked out an hour later, $40 less, bellies fully of hot broth and noodles, give or take a couple pieces of gyoza and just very content. Soup noodles have a tendency to lull me into a kind of dream-like state, where you’re wozzy and happy and quiet all at the same time. I guess it’s similar to being drunk? Only I haven’t gotten drunk before, so I wouldn’t know. I’ll just stick to eating noodles.

Goma Tei Ramen Restaurant
Ward Centre
1200 Ala Moana Boulevard
(808) 591-9188



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