Eaten: Slurps welcome at Waikiki Yokocho’s Ramen Road

Waikiki Yokocho has completed its Ramen Road, featuring four different takes on the local favorite.

To introduce this new feature, Waikiki Yokocho is giving 1,500 the opportunity to eat free Feb. 11 beginning 11 a.m. The first 300 guests at newcomers Baikohken, Bario and Tsujita Ramen, plus Kaneko Hannosuke and Nin Nin Curry, will be able to sample their respective specialties free.

To participate, just follow the Instagram accounts @tsujita_hawaii @ramen_bario @baikohken_hi @hannosuke_hawaii @curry.waikiki @waikikiyokocho and @waikikiyokochojp

Here’s a guide to help steer you to the ramen shop best suited to your taste:

Butter plus corn is a $2.50 add-on to any of Baikohken’s ramens, including the miso ramen shown.

Baikohken
For classicists: Since opening its doors in Asahikawa, Hokkaido, in 1969, Baikohken has lured in diners with its classic shoyu ramen that won it a place in the Michelin guides. Contemporary diners who like a rich broth might try the butter ramen instead. The butter tops the combination of noodles, pork and vegetables, including corn kernels, and is stirred into the broth before eating. Costs here start at $12.99 for shoyu or shio ramen, and $6 for juicy, delicate gyoza.

You can see the delicious bits of silky se-abura, or rendered pork back fat, in the tonkotsu broth at Bario Ramen.

Bario Ramen
Heavy-duty stuff: This is the home of a rich, thick and creamy tonkotsu, or pork-based, broth. It’s also known for its thick housemade noodles and housemade char siu. Geared toward those who can handle the heft of tonkotsu, red pepper and garlic. The pepper isn’t particularly hot, but a sign teases that the more red pepper and garlic you add, the better the ramen tastes.

I am so there. I particularly love the tonkotsu tsukemen, which runs $11.98 regular, and $13.48 large. Basic ramen with char siu is $10.98 and $12.48, respectively. Adding ajitama will cost you $12.48 and $13.48, respectively.

I love the authentic multi-step experience of enjoying tsukemen at Tsujita.

Tsujita
For seafood lovers: While many ramen broths are crafted with a mix of pork and one type of seafood, Tsujita’s broth combines a trio of seafood essences—bonito flakes, saba and iriko (baby sardines) for extra depth and umami. Its specialty is a dipping-style ajitama tsukemen. This is the place for those who love the brininess of a seafood broth.

Small signs here explain “How to Eat Tsukemen.” It starts with dipping the plain noodles into the dipping broth, then slurping them up. After you become accustomed to the flavor, change things up by adding a squeeze of lime. (Unfortunately, we do not have access to the milder sudachi used in Japan.) You’ll find the touch of citrus brightens the dish. Once you experience this flavor, layer on a spicy blend of peppery kuro-shichimi. When done, you can request a light broth to add to the reduced dipping broth to finish every last drop.

Basic ramen here runs $10.98 regular, and $11.98 large. Adding egg will raise the price to $11.98 and $12.98, respectively. For extra char siu, the price goes up to $13.98 and $14.98, respectively.

At Volcano Ramen, ingredients are cooked in a stone pot topped with a funnel that spouts steam when the ramen comes to a boil.

Volcano Ramen
Want to be entertained? A bowl of ramen starts with tonkotsu broth that is poured into a sizzling hot stone pot containing noodles and other ingredients. It’s covered with a red metal funnel, and an old-fashioned hourglass counts down the time it takes for your ramen to be down. Steam created by the boiling ingredients rise through the funnel to make it look like a steaming volcano.