Shirokiya’s Tanto Gyoza & Ramen Bar Reopens in Mō‘ili‘ili

Tanto’s sole location outside of Japan is a buzzy new shop inside Puck’s Alley.


While it’s common to see gyoza ride sidecar to a bowl of ramen, at Tanto Gyoza & Ramen Bar, it’s the other way around. If the name Tanto rings a bell, you might have been one of many who flocked to Shirokiya’s Japan Village Walk (RIP) for their signature Hamamatsu-style one-bite gyoza, often sold in batches of more than 30 pieces. After a three-year absence, as of April 15, Tanto is back as a full-service izakaya in Puck’s Alley with small bites, ramen, and of course, baby gyoza for days.


Tanto Gyoza Credit Thomas Obungen 3

Photo: Thomas Obungen


Start with the shop’s famous dumplings, sold in multiples of 10 ($8). Ten pieces per person is a good start since each crescent is roughly half the size of a normal gyoza. They’re flavorful and visually satisfying in their abundance: Fried on the griddle, the thin wrapper is crisp on its flat side and chewy on the belly. The pork-based filling has loads of chives, ginger, garlic, and cabbage and hits you with a strong vegetal flavor. You won’t find gyoza sauce or vinegar on the table; instead, a trio of flavored salt, spicy sauce, and ponzu come with each order.


Tanto Appetizers Credit Thomas Obungen 1

Photo: Thomas Obungen


Small dishes of karaage chicken ($8.75), beef tsukune ($8.75), and dashimaki tamago ($7.75) bring more assortment to the izakaya side of the menu but offer little substance. They’re fine and relatively affordable, but not standouts. The drinks remind us we’re in a college town, with prices ranging from $5 to $7.50 for draft beer and whisky highballs. The fizzy Jim Beam highball $6 brings me right back to drinks you can get at your average izakaya in any city in Japan.


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Despite riding shotgun, the ramen at Tanto is quite good in the variety of offerings and taste. The Tanto Goma ramen ($15.75) is one of two prominently featured bowls with a unique mix of toppings. A hybrid of tantanmen and paitan ramen, it starts with a rich chicken broth thickened with sesame paste and peanuts. It’s topped with niku miso (ground pork in miso), green onion, spinach and red onion. It can be made spicy for a $1 more, which would bring it a step closer to tantanmen. There’s no question I’m returning for this bowl.


Tanto Ramen Credit Thomas Obungen 4

Photo: Thomas Obungen


The other featured bowl, the Tanto Shoyu ramen ($14.75), is a blend of pork-based tonkotsu and chicken paitan broths fortified with aged shoyu for a deep umami flavor. It’s topped with chashu pork slices, ajitama egg, bamboo shoots, green onion, daikon oroshi, and red onion. Other variations include the Hakata Black Tonkotsu ramen ($15.75), fragrantly infused with black garlic, and the Yokohama Tonkotsu Shoyu ramen ($14.75) that features curly Tokyo-style ramen by Sun Noodle. According to the menu, all ramen bowls can be made spicy for a $1 surcharge, but the spice was lacking.


The Highball at Tanto Gyoza & Ramen Bar

Photo: Thomas Obungen


If you enjoy the steamy facial that comes with eating a hot bowl of ramen, I must warn you that Tanto’s is served relatively tepid. For my cat-tongued friends, you can immediately dive in without waiting for the soup to cool down. This is not an isolated experience, but one that occurred even after requesting the soup to be served extra hot. I realize this might make me sound like one of those entitled diners, but I just expect some heat from a bowl of hot ramen.


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An interior shot of the Tanto Gyoza & Ramen Bar

Photo: Thomas Obungen


The shop has the same hole-in-the-wall feel as its former incarnation as Nook Neighborhood Bistro, so you should expect to put your name down and wait for a table during peak hours. Inside is bright and warmly accented by the iconic chochin lanterns that once lined Tanto’s space in Shirokiya. Outdoors is a different vibe that reminds me of a yatai street food stall in Fukuoka. You can sit bum-to-bum looking out to the open sky above Mō‘ili‘ili amid the quiet hum of the city instead of the chatter inside the restaurant. Despite the frantic service from just two servers, it’s relaxing and something you’d look forward to after a long week.


Open weekdays except Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Puck’s Alley, 1035 University Ave. U105, Mōʻiliʻili,, @tanto_gyoza_and_ramen_bar