5 Ramen Shops in Honolulu to Cure Your Vegan Ramen Cravings
These satisfying, plant-based bowls are packed with rich flavor and healthy toppings.
There are so many ramen options on O‘ahu, but as I’ve shifted to a more plant-based diet, I find myself craving vegan and vegetarian alternatives. Luckily, many restaurants include meat-free ramen bowls that are often jam-packed with nutritious plant-based ingredients and fresh veggies, making them lower in saturated fats due to the absence of animal products.
Whether you’re a full-time vegan, gave up meat for Lent, participate in meatless Mondays or simply want to reduce your carbon footprint, Honolulu has no shortage of vegan ramen eateries available to give you a tasty and animal-friendly dining experience. Here are five of them to get you started.
Noods Ramen Bar
I have to preface this endorsement by mentioning that I’ve known the owner of Noods Ramen Bar for many years, so I may be a bit biased… but seeing as the restaurant won a Gold for Best Japanese Noodles in HONOLULU Magazine’s 2022 Hale ‘Aina Awards, their reputation for quality stands on its own.
Noods Ramen introduced me to vegan ramen, and is my go-to for a wide variety of healthy meals. Their menu lists 13 unique vegan ramen bowls—my favorites being the Vegan Creamy Garlic Shoyu ($14) and Vegan Spicy Thai Curry ($14). Coconut milk lends the Creamy Garlic broth its rich and velvety consistency which does not overpower the garlic flavor. The Spicy Thai Curry is a vegetable-based broth with a yellow coconut curry and just the right amount of robust spice. Not only does Noods have many unique broth choices but the noodles are cooked perfectly every time.
3611 Wai‘alae Ave., noodsramenbar808.com, @noodsramenbar808
Located in the bustling Kapahulu neighborhood, Ono-ya fills up fast—along with its parking lot. You may have to walk a block or two after finding street parking, but following an invariably filling meal, the walk back to your car will be welcome.
Their menu offers five vegan ramen choices. My picks are the Vegan Black ($15) and Vegan Fire ($14.50). Ono-ya’s broths are lighter than most others I’ve tried, with the taste and consistency of a vegetable-based stock. The black garlic oil has a deep charred flavor without tasting burnt, and the chile oil in the Vegan Fire builds as you slurp. Both dishes are topped with kikurage (wood ear mushrooms), corn and garlic chips—but my absolute favorite part of the ramen here is the addition of tofu. The tofu makes the dish more filling than vegetables and noodles alone, while the chewy fried edges add a satisfying texture and depth that I crave in a vegan ramen.
611 Kapahulu Ave., onoyaramen.com, @onoyaramen
SEE ALSO: Slurp’s Up: Ono-ya Ramen Brings New Age Noodles to Kapahulu
Junpuu boasts both outdoor seating and ample parking. The Vegetarian Tantan ($15.50) is one of three vegetarian ramen bowls on their menu that can be prepared vegan. The broth is wonderfully nutty and creamy and seems to have most of the elements of a traditional tantanmen—including sesame, peanut, and chile oil—but without the pork. While the broth has the classic tantan flavor you know and love, their vegan and vegetarian noodles are topped with generous servings of spinach, red bell peppers, green beans, pumpkin and squash—a variety not typically included in tantanmen—or any ramen for that matter. At first, I had some reservations, but to my satisfaction, the veggies complement the broth and are also filling and healthy. For me, this is truly a guilt-free bowl of ramen.
1010 South King St. Suite 108, junpuuramen.com, @junpuu_hawaii
As I sought out vegan ramen, I found that Wagaya’s dishes are the most nostalgic and straightforward, in a refreshing yet comforting way. The miso prominent broth—in combination with the Sun Noodles ramen—delivers the familiar flavors and consistency that attracted me to ramen in the first place. They only have two meatless ramen options; Vegetarian Ramen ($14.75) and a Hiyashi cold broth version ($14.75)—simply ask them to hold the ajitama egg to turn them vegan. While Wagaya’s vegan ramen choices are limited, their menu includes several vegetarian and vegan appetizers, including my favorite corn tempura ($9.25).
2080 South King St., wagayahawaii.com, @wagayahawaii
Tane Vegan Izakaya
It makes sense that a vegan restaurant offers more unique ingredients, and the ramen bowls at Tane Vegan Izakaya certainly don’t disappoint. The Roasted Garlic Miso Ramen ($17) and Spicy Garlic Miso Ramen ($17) have the ideal level of savory saltiness with a distinct earthy quality of mushrooms. The latter bowl adds a light spice to the complexity of flavors. Both come topped with ramen staples like menma bamboo shoots and nori, but they go above and beyond with shiitake tempura, and a house-made smoked bean curd garnish.
Tane’s full menu includes appetizers and an extensive list of nigiri and sushi rolls. To offer a unique vegan dining experience, they get creative with ingredients, so inform your server of any food allergies so they can guide you to the dishes best suited for your tastes and health.
2065 South Beretania St., tanevegan.com, @tanevegan
SEE ALSO: Happy Veganuary: Revisiting Tane Vegan Izakaya in Honolulu