Gomaichi or Goma Tei? That IS the Question. Why? Because rumor has it that the owner of Gomaichi was once a partner with Goma Tei, with the latter who started his or her own shop, spinning off the same recipes to boot. Or something to that effect, but don’t quote me on it.
So much for investigative reporting on this blog, but I do strive to get better at it, when time permits. Lately I’ve been constrained.
First let’s check the place out…
Gomaichi is located on Ke’eaumoku (Koreamoku) street, nextdoor to Green Papaya Vietnamese Restaurant (another place I need to visit). Parking is strictly on the street (where I parked), or like many Yelpers confess, they park across the street in Walmart’s parking lot. Just walk towards the store like you’re going to shop there, then hang a left and head to Gomaicihi. lol
This is one mighty strange looking “immortalized” bowl of ramen in their window….
Typical of most ramen shops, Gomaichi is furnished with a centrally-serviced bar height counter wrap, along with individual tables on the side…
One (of two) of my servers mentioned that a popular ramen style with the ladies is their Zasai Sunghonmen…
While also pointing out that the fellahz all go for the Tantanmen…
But nah, pass. I tried the Tan Tan Ramen at Goma Tei, and it wasn’t my style. Too “out there” (unconventional) in my opinion.
Again sticking by my guns, for this first-time visit at Gomaichi, I decided to try their Shoyu Ramen…
Gomaichi was notably empty of customers on this pre-peak dinner time 5pm visit, so it gave the place a sense of solitude. Solitude I could use to further enhance my “religious experience” in attempting to absorb and envelop every sense of spirit from this bowl of ramen. Could this be that “Zen moment”? The awakening? The enlightenment? “The bowl”?
Let’s now find out. Hai, itadakimasu.
First, let’s taste the broth…
According to one of my servers, the broth is chicken-based, with no pork at all, yet she didn’t know (or wouldn’t divulge) much else about it beyond that. Had I not known it was chicken, like Menchanko-Tei’s Kokuzu Shoyu Ramen, I would say Gomaichi’s Shoyu Ramen broth simply tastes “meaty”, as if it could have been made a combination of chicken, pork and beef.
Yet what struck me most about the broth’s flavor profile is that it didn’t taste “Japanese”, but more Americanized. Like a really, really, really good example of Nissin® Cup Noodle®, for lack of a better way to put it. lol. Seriously, that’s how it came across to me! It had a good balance of saltiness, while thankfully not having any sweet undertones, which I always appreciate. The globules of fat slicking the surface added silkiness, yet overall, the depth and complexity factor wasn’t there. Don’t get me wrong, it tasted good, but not “Japanese good”. More just “soup good”. Ya’ know?
With that, their offpsring competitor, Goma Tei, still has the best Shoyu Ramen broth I’ve had yet in recent time here on Oahu, whereas I give Gomaichi’s take on it 2 SPAM Musubi.
Now let’s sample the noodles…
The noodles’ profile is slightly thinner than usual, while it also had a pronounced more “eggy” flavor it, which brought the dish back to being “Japanese” again, and I’d say somewhat of a redemption. Yet that was slightly negated by the fact that they were cooked a little beyond al dente in the Japanese sense of being on the firm side; these were a little soft. It didn’t take on much of the broth’s flavor either, which is probably more attributable to the broth than the noodles itself. Overall flavor in and of itself? Great. Texture? Good. 3 SPAM Musubi for the noodles.
Now on to the Char Siu (notice the spelling)….
Notice how the center part of this Char Siu slice is missing, which simply explained, it fell out while I held it up. It’s THAT tender. In fact, right after I snapped this photo, the rest of it fell apart and back into the bowl. It’s rolled-up pork belly just like at Goma Tei, except Gomaichi’s Char Siu is considerably thinner-sliced. Like about 1/8″ to be exact, compared to Goma Tei’s which is sliced about 5/8″. Over half an inch!
I was somewhat disappointed with the quanity, slice-wise, where being so thin, they could have included more than just three! I mean, this IS Char Siu Ramen, isn’t it? If you ask me, this looked more like Shoyu Ramen, where I almost was going to confirm with my server whether this was indeed “Charsiu Shoyu Ramen”, but didn’t bother and just went with it.
Being rolled-up pork belly, the fat-to-meat factor is right on point. Yet seasoning wise, it was about middle-ground and needed more of the shoyu/mirin/sake/ginger penetration than it had. Overall though, I really enjoyed it. Rubbing it in again, while Goma Tei’s Char Siu gets 5 SPAM Musubi, Gomaichi’s Char Siu gets 2, where it would have been 3 based on flavor and succulent tenderness, but got deducted a point for portion. Only 3 thin slices? Pu-leeez.
What else is left? Nothing! No menma! Ack!!!!!! What the? According to my server, Menma is included in the Tantanmen and Sunghonmen, but not the Shoyu Ramen. What?!!!!!! Remember I mentioned that the broth didn’t taste “Japanese”? Well, that’s a big reason for that, as the menma is a key flavor component in that regard.
Which has me thinking, from now on, I’m going to make it a point to ASK before ordering whether my ramen will have menma in it. If it doesn’t, I’m ordering one that does. If they don’t have it, I’m walking out, because as far as I’m concerned, Japanese Ramen is NOT Japanese without MENMA IN IT!
OK, rant over.
Well all there really is left is the green onion, which I have to ask: why can’t ramen shops here in Hawaii embrace using thin slivers of only the white stalk of the larger Japanese green onion? That’s how it’s served in Japan, so what’s so hard about doing it here?! And don’t tell me cost, because you can buy Japanese Negi at KCC Farmer’s Market at a very reasonable price.
OK, rant round two over. lol
Other than that, we have the remaining broth and remnants of noodles and char siu…
One reader suggested that I include my hand in the photos to give scale of the foods’ service size. Well, I must also note, the bowl size at Gomaichi is on the small size, if this is any indication…
My hand spans 8-1/4″ from thumb-tip to pinky-tip, where you can see it dwarfing the bowl’s diameter. Still, regardless of bowl diameter, it was still more than enough, where I didn’t even need Gyoza on the side to fill me up, nor was I in the mood for Gyoza, which is why I didn’t order any on this visit. At $4.78 for five pieces, it’s not exactly a bargain either. I’d get it to share with someone, but since I was on another solo mission, no need.
Speaking of prices, like several other ramen shops I’ve reviewed recently, Gomaichi is CASH ONLY. No checks, debit or credit cards accepted.
Aside of it’s lack of “Japanese-nis”, I thoroughly enjoyed my Shoyu Ramen at Gomaichi “Japanese Noodle Restaurant”. Enough so that I “polished” it…
Cup Noodle® certainly ain’t got nothin’ on it.
Being super-slow (I was one of 3 other guests in the entire joint), service was of course very attentive and friendly, while my order came out within minutes of being ordered, only taking as long as it would to boil the noodles. I like that.
I’ll certainly return again to try that Zasai Sunghonmen. Spicy, sour and menma in it? Sound very interesting.
Gomaichi Japanese Noodle Restaurant
631 Keeoumoku Street (across Walmart, nextdoor to Green Papaya Cafe)
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
Tel. (808) 951-6666
The Tasty Island rating:
(2) Good. I’m glad I tried it.