New Umi Ramen Brings Japanese-Style Bowls to Waipahu

Find tonkotsu, spicy miso, tan tan and shabu beef ramen next to Seafood City.


After Ton Ton Ramen in the Waipahu Town Center closed, choices for traditional Japanese-style ramen in Leeward O‘ahu looked grim. That’s no longer the case since Umi Ramen opened next to Seafood City in early May.


Umi is co-owned by Tommy Lee, who spent 26 years making ramen at shops including Baikohken in Waikīkī’s Stix Asia food hall, Ramen Ya and Ezogiku. Lee’s broths start with pork bones that are simmered for eight hours. This process pulls out the fat and collagen, creating a rich base that is used for all the broths. Noodles are from Sun Noodle: thin, softer and more aborbent strands to pair with the tonkotsu and other milder broths; and firmer, wavy noodles that get coated in and pick up bits of bolder broths.


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Aside from the house tonkotsu ramen, other bowls on offer are spicy tonkotsu, black garlic tonkotsu, shoyu, miso, shio and tantan ramen, plus a shabu beef ramen and Umi seafood ramen in the style of Nagasaki champon, in a thickened broth with seafood and vegetables. There’s also fried rice and rice bowls topped with karaage chicken, char siu, unagi and sukiyaki beef.


Umi Ramen Tonkotsu Pc Eric Barandajpg

Photo: Eric Baranda


I go with the Tonkotsu Original King Ramen ($14.99) so I can compare it against other tonkotsu broths I’ve enjoyed around town. This one turns out to be creamy, savory and light with a velvet texture—everything I appreciate in a good tonkotsu broth. The thin noodles are chewy and absorbent, although my preference would be for a firmer texture. Toppings consist of thinly sliced char siu, a shoyu-marinated ajitama soft-boiled egg, nori, onions and bamboo shoots (I decline the bamboo shoots since I prefer my ramen without). Tonkotsu Original King is a solid bowl that I will order again.


Umi Ramen Mini Shoyu Ramen And Karaage Rice Pc Eric Baranda

Photo: Eric Baranda


My wife goes for a Kid’s Meal to share between herself and our toddler. She chooses the Mini Shoyu Ramen and Karaage Rice Bowl ($9.55), an amazing value: The mini bowl is only slightly smaller than my regular-sized ramen. After tasting the shoyu broth, I’m tempted to ask my wife to switch bowls with me. It has a rich umami flavor that lingers, a light saltiness with a hint of sweetness. The noodles are firm and wavy. However, I’m not a fan of corn as a topping, so I don’t press her to switch. I plan to order it in the future though, minus the corn. The karaage is drizzled in Japanese mayo and sprinkled with sesame seeds. The batter is crispy without being oily, with tender and juicy meat. The Kid’s Meal is also something we’ll order again.


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


Umi Ramen Shabu Beef Ramen Pc Ericc Baranda

Photo: Eric Baranda


On a subsequent visit, we decide to try something different: shabu beef ramen ($13.95). The broth, consisting of the tonkotsu base fortified with chile oil, has a zesty flavor that lingers on your taste buds. Yellow noodles provide a firm texture. Sprouts and green onions add a bit of crunch. As with many shabu shabu meats, the beef alone is light on flavor, so better to drench it in the spicy broth. A half soft-boiled egg completes the dish.


For people who on the Leeward side of O‘ahu, it’s often a trek to find traditional Japanese-style ramen. Umi Ramen is a welcome addition.


Open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., 94-050 Farrington Hwy, (808) 677-8887,, @umiramenhawaii