The History of Hawai‘i From Our Files: Long Gone Noodle Shops
HONOLULU Magazine emerged from predecessor “Paradise of the Pacific,” which began in 1888, fulfilling a commission by King Kalākaua. That makes this the oldest continuously published magazine west of the Mississippi with an enviable archive worth diving into each month. Here’s a look back at May 1996.
In Hawai‘i, noodles are entwined in our local culinary DNA. Chinese cake noodles, Filipino pancit, Vietnamese pho and Japanese ramen, all symbolize our diverse culture, past and present. In 1996, a HONOLULU article states: “The Italians, who were eating pasta before Marco Polo returned from his journeys, did not steal the idea of noodles from the Chinese. The Japanese did. But even if the Japanese didn’t invent them, they take noodles more serious than anyone else.” No offense to the writer, but over the years there’s been a lot of twistable, slurp-able, unforgettable noodle dishes that have bowled us over—and not all of them were Japanese.
The story, however, gives us a nostalgic look at noodle nooks of the past. The recently shuttered Jimbo was known for noodles that were “good, cheap, fast, slithery and fun.” Goma Ichi, according to the article, was one of the first to introduce goma oil to its soup. “This clouds the broth, but adds a rich nutty sesame flavor, and also the bite of red pepper,” HONOLULU writes. When Goma Ichi closed in 2018, it definitely left a lump in our throat, one that could only be soothed by a char siu tan tan men. The other ’90s hot spots mentioned were Tentekomai—its flavorful ramen came with “wild plants from Japan”—Yamagen and Tsuruya Noodle Shop. Sadly, all have closed their doors.
Luckily, here, when one noodle shop closes, five more open. Last year, HONOLULU editors gave their top picks for comforting noodle soups. Of course, ramen is still queen with the most votes, but soothing spoonfuls of flavor-packed Taiwanese beef noodle soup from Season’s Ice and Eatery, and Lam’s Kitchen beef flank and tendo with mein, had some staff mouths going, “mmm.” Digital dining managing editor Mari Taketa admits she starts salivating at the mere mention of the steamy servings from Piggy Smalls. And managing editor Katrina Valcourt has a huge crush on Onda Pasta—fresh handmade pasta crafted locally by Andrea Onetti.
We’re lucky: Our city is a melting pot of noodle options. And, evidently, we’re soup-er ecstatic about that.
Learn more about the evolution of covers in HONOLULU Magazine and Paradise of the Pacific: 125 Years of Covers, available at shop.honolulumagazine.com.
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