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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Noodle Tuesday: New Agu Ramen

Spicy tonkotsu ramen at Agu

With all the ramen shops opening around Honolulu, it's not easy to find a new one that surprises.

But Agu Ramen does. First, there's the design itself: Coming across this place on Isenberg is like stumbling onto a Hollywood set at night, with its dramatically lit red and cream exterior, while inside, dark wood and red accents create an intimate dining room. If there were ever a ramen restaurant for date nights, this would be it.

And then there’s the spicy ramen. I've never had anything truly spicy at a Japanese restaurant. But our server tells us for the spicy tonkotsu ramen, available in five varying spice levels, that most people can only handle the mild. The "mild," doused in chili oil and garnished with fresh jalapeños, makes us sweat.

Agu offers thin noodles (thinner than most other ramen places) in pork and chicken based broths.

From heaviest to lightest:

Kotteri Tonkotsu
Those who love the thick, almost gravylike kotteri broth at Tenkaippin, will like Agu’s version, which tastes cleaner, is less grainy and is showered with garlic chips.

Shoyu Tonkotsu
This is unlike other tonkotsu bowls in Honolulu. A bonito-infused tare (a concentrated ramen broth seasoning) and black sesame paste gives the pork-based broth new complexity. All the ramen bowls have a slew of garnishes, including crunchy bamboo shoots, cloud ear mushrooms and half a soft-boiled egg.

Shoyu Jidori

This is my favorite at Agu. Agu makes its chicken-based broths from Jidori chickens (the Kobe beef of chicken, naming confusions included). Lighter and more delicate than the tonkotsu broth for sure, but not quite as clear and subtle as Kiwami's.

Agu Ramen at St. Louis Alumni Association, 925 Isenberg St., 492-1637.

Posted on Tuesday, November 19, 2013 in Permalink

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About This Column

From five-star restaurants to hidden holes-in-the-wall, Biting Commentary will let you know what’s hot and what’s not. Find out the latest restaurant news—who’s opening, who’s closing, which chef is moving on, where the great special dinners are. Discover the best menu items, fabulous wines, stunning cocktails, hand-crafted beers. Be the first to hear about upcoming food events and festivals.

Food editor Martha Cheng graduated from Wellesley College with degrees in Computer Science and English. She's a former line cook, food truck owner, Peace Corps volunteer and Google techie. Follow her on Twitter @marthacheng.


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